The Stones really nailed today for me with this one, what a perfect song for this day.
Last week my son wore shorts one day, it was so warm, and we blew bubbles and drew with sidewalk chalk on the patio. Today, it was really cold. Then it rained. Then there was a thunderstorm. Then a hailstorm. Now, a big snowstorm. I thought this one might miss us, though I know it’s hitting all around us, and though I know this is not unusual for Cleveland in April. I still remember the year my family made the snow bunny for Easter back at the house where I grew up. My sister and Mom made it, as I had gone off to college. They sent me pictures in the mail. That was the year she sold the house and moved to Cleveland, where, believe it or not, the winters are milder. The coldest spot in Ohio is often a spot in my hometown. This isn’t so bad, and it won’t last.
I’ve been going to bed so early for the past week or so. I think my body is just tired. Tired of winter, tired of stress, tired of so much. I have been working out more and that’s also made me more tired. It’s amazing to me now to think how I used to come home from work, go to the gym and work out for an hour or two, get changed and go out clubbing until the wee hours several nights a week, and still go to work and function the next day. Of course, functioning was a lot easier at those lower-level jobs. I remember sleeping in my car at lunch, or in the lunch/break room a couple of times, so burning my bell, book and candle was taking a toll even when I was young, but I bounced back more quickly. Today I sat on the floor for two Monopoly Jr. games with my kid and it took me a half hour until I could walk right again, my back hurt so much from it. Fucking middle age. And I know it only gets worse.
Trying hard to find the balance with the kid is a continued challenge. Fed, yes. Played with, yes. Homework and reading (him to me, and vice versa), check. But not too much. I think he needs to be told no, too, to find his own stuff to do while I clean up the kitchen, so he can see cleaning up is important, or while I change the sheets on the beds (he took his off, one of his small chores – he also vacuumed the bathroom with the hand vac, one of his other chores). And dancing and watching a funny video and some cartoons and ok donuts and even pizza the night before and staying up late because it’s the weekend, but that balance, all the time I’m working it in. No, I have played enough ball, that’s enough dancing, you’ve had enough to eat. I work hard to not make things indulgent, but it is a lot more than what I grew up with, which was probably not enough, so I don’t know if my meter is right or not.
My Mom and I talk on the phone daily. Even though she only lives a few miles away, she doesn’t like going out that much anymore, and isn’t really prepared for visitors much either, spending a lot of the day in her robe and watching TV, but we do talk on the phone. She often asks me what I’ve been doing with D on the weeks that I have him, and tells me what a good Mom I am. Sometimes I’m just filling her in and don’t mean anything by it, but accidentally expose something that she really didn’t do, and she finds herself apologizing for not having done this or that, and I backpedal and find ways to tell her what she did was great, and more than enough, or that what I’m doing is probably too much. I just don’t want her to feel bad. We were talking about how people talk about idyllic childhoods in the 70s, where neighborhood parents would give you a snack or make sure you got home ok or whatever, and how that wasn’t my experience at all. She reminded me there was a brief time I brought one or two playmates home with me from the nearby pool in my pool rat days and we’d have snacks, and after it happened a few times she finally had to tell me to tell them they couldn’t come over anymore because she actually couldn’t afford to feed them. They were eating the little bit of food that was meant for our family and we literally could not afford to buy more. I didn’t remember having to tell my friends about that until she mentioned it, and then I felt bad that she still felt shitty about that all these years later, and that somehow I made her think of it. Gah. Motherhood guilt has no expiration date, I guess. All we can do is hope we’re getting it as right as we can and doing the best we can with what we have.
I told her I was taking my son to see a children’s theater play, and invited her to join us, even though I knew she wouldn’t go. She said she felt bad for never exposing us to anything like that, not that there was a whole lot of culture in the small town where I grew up. But what there was, we couldn’t afford to go see/do, and what was free and available, we didn’t pursue. My family just didn’t do kid-oriented stuff at all, ever. It was all adult stuff, all the time, unless it was your birthday or summer vacation or something. Playing with strange kids at HAM radio fests and flea markets and auctions was about it. I pointed out to her that she did take me to the movies downtown sometimes, and made me sit down more times than I could recall to watch a lot of black and whites that I never would have seen but for her influence. That was what she had to teach. White Heat. My Dear Secretary. Singing in the Rain, which we saw downtown in the big, grand old theater. The big epic dramas – Cleopatra, Ben-Hur, the majesty of the annual religious epics like the Robe and the Ten Commandments, which were actually the foundation for a lot of my basic knowledge about religion since we didn’t go to church. The annual viewings of Wizard of Oz and Willy Wonka, and Snoopy Come Home, which left me in such tears when they said “No Dogs Allowed” that they had to shut it off a couple of times when I was really little, I was crying so hard. I knew who Victor Mature and Tyrone Power and Kim Novak were in middle school. I had a favorite Hitchcock film, knew Robert Mitchum from Night of the Hunter and only knew Andy Griffith from A Face in the Crowd, not from his hokey TV show. That was what she gave me, which sparked my obsessive love with the entertainment industry, and which continues to this day. I try hard to explain that to her so she doesn’t feel bad that what she did wasn’t enough.
I expect my son will be doing the same for me one day. I hope I’m giving him enough material to be convincing.