Monday, July 28, 2014

My Sanity Is Not Safe With My Mother ... And My Mother's Sanity Is Not Safe With Me

This was us on my 32nd birthday at her house a few weeks ago.
I love my mom.  I do, she is absolutely my best friend. We can tell each other anything and we get along really well. Sometimes we are simply too alike. I do not write about her on here because she is super paranoid about people reading what I write and it getting back to her, but I suppose I will have to disappoint her this time. It is sort of an ode to our relationship.

We made plans this past weekend to visit my family up in Finksburg, Maryland.  The plans were made over a month ago.  I wrote it on all my calendars and it has been in the back of my mind as the very highlight of my summer. I turned down plans with people because I was like, "My grand-pop is in town NO SATURDAY PLANS GRAND-POP IS IN TOWN; GO AWAY." For some reason though, my mom was paranoid that not only would I cancel the plans to go, but that I was dead because I had not called her. Normal mom stuff.  Daughters don't call?  She's in a ditch somewhere.  Call your mother!

The week before this past Saturday was the busiest week I have had socially in a long time. Friday before I had a pizza date with my spouse. Thursday before I had coffee with my coworker until almost 8 pm. Wednesday before I had dinner with friends from out of town and did not get home until 11:30 pm. Tuesday I had a doctor's appointment that ran late, Monday was Monday, Sunday I spent sleeping after a Saturday from 3 pm-1 am party that included a live DJ, tree swings, amazing burgers, horror movies, a fire pit, and endless conversations with people.

By the time this past Saturday rolled around my phone was dead from using the navigation on it and not charging it, my laptop was off, I had not gone walking in more than a week, every square inch of my carpet had opened mail, shopping bags, or dirty laundry on it, and my hair had not been washed in almost a week. I smelled of failure. I hopped in the shower and stayed in there until the failure stench was covered in St. Ives.

In the meantime my mother called me on Google Hangouts at 10:17 am and 11:21 am to make sure I was still going. Obviously I was not logged in. Then she wrote: 

jenny, are you there?
it is 1123; let me know if you are still going

Then she tried again on Google Hangouts at 11:48 am as well as 12:07 pm.  She called my husband but his phone was off. She also called my phone at 12:06 pm, 12:06 pm, 12:58 pm, 1:05 pm, and then 1:31 pm twice while honking just so I'd know she was there.

I would take this to mean that she was in a hurry to get there, being that we were late from Bay Bridge traffic.

Apparently not.  

We still needed to pick up a card and candles for my grand-pop. 

We popped into Rite Aid and she snapped at me for rushing her many, many times. 

First we picked out the card.  At first we could not find a card for his 80th year, so I was running all down the isles looking for a decent one.  But there it was, finally, smack dab in the middle of all the other milestone cards. Happy 80th Birthday!

Of course my mother has to go and read the card, which is three pages of sappy shit nobody cares about. (I am not a fan of greeting cards. They are always full of meaningless schmaltz that seems insincere.) 

So we found a card, but we can't hurry up and buy it. It isn't enough that it is a birthday greeting card to put money in, and that it is for an 80 year old instead of a 100 year old where we cross out 100 and put 80, but my mom has to get her glasses out and take forever to read the whole thing, swirly font and all, out loud. 

We still had to find the candles, which were not in an aisle they should have been in, and honestly I thought this woman was in a hurry and was trying to help and apparently I was being a monster with PMS.  Every ten minutes a sigh and a lecture about how I cannot pull this stuff with her family, that I need to be on my best behavior, that I needed to be classy, that I will not be seen as good enough, that she will not be seen as good enough.

I want to say my heart ached for her, but I was just angry. My mother is this fabulous woman who has overcome so much. She is generous and intelligent. She has taken in stray dogs. She has fed homeless people and stray cats. She loves murder mysteries and true crime. She used to teach second grade in Baltimore City Schools. She was the cool mom, not because she let people get away with things (she did not) but because she listened to children and loved them wholeheartedly. She taught me to drive, get my finances in order, and has stayed in my life much longer than most parents do. When I was in the hospital she advocated for my care even as I was screaming at her from a padded cell in a straight jacket. She raised me up after I hit some tough times and she still does not see that she is a miracle. She has run a successful household, has had a successful government career, raised a successful daughter, and everyone loves her. Seriously, everyone absolutely loves my mother. I cannot imagine someone not loving my mother just for being who she is, but she does not see that she is wonderful and sometimes I worry she does not remember that both of us are wonderful.  That neither of us are our past selves.

The joy came when we ran down that green grassy hill and embraced our family.  And then it was picture time.

How is this beautiful man eighty years old???

When we were done and everyone left and it was time to go, my mother cried. It was hard for her to leave. There is so much love in her, so much beauty, so much sentimentality when she sees the possibilities of how easy it all is, how loved she is by others and how much it is that she loves.

It turns out the card we picked out?  It was the same exact card his sister picked out!  I suppose we were good enough after all!


I have to say that getting to spend an entire afternoon with my grandfather's sweet family was a treat. Picking out the same card was not the only coincidence, I learned.  It turns out that my great-grandfather Earl, who passed away right after I was born, also sang. They used to call him Bing Crosby and he would sing around the house and anywhere else he could. Everyone referred to him as Bing. We finally know where all my singing comes from, because nobody in my family really does that. My father plays instruments and my mother sings sometimes to stay awake, but I have a passion for singing. In the office people sometimes tell me that they wish they had my voice. My therapist tells me I have a lovely voice and should pursue finding a local music group to practice.  In addition I have always wanted to take singing lessons to practice my breathing so I can sound prettier.

I had this friend years ago who was marrying my other friend and at her bachelorette party she told her friends that they'd taken me to karaoke and my singing alone won them free drinks. This was very much not true, and I didn't catch on at the time but I think she was trying to convince her friends to do karaoke and they would not. I have never won any drinks singing, but I desperately want that to be the case some day. One day, I will take those two crazy kids out to karaoke and I will win them all the trendy craft beers in mason jars. And then I will turn into a frog and I will be a karaoke frog that only sings in front of them and never at bars so I will never have to be famous or rich and will still have a reason to blog. LOVE ME. ADORE ME.


  1. This is lovely and I adore you. :)

    I LOVE the sweet.

    1. I wish I had taken more but it was hot hot hot!