She spent the night and as always we had such fun: making valentines full of glitter, doing puzzles together, talking, laughing, and the time went so fast. Before having to leave she said (to my delight), “I’m sad to go.”
“Well, how about next time I have a craft waiting for us to do?”, I asked.
She smiled and said, “Flowers!”
The very next morning my search came up with two great ideas, hyacinths and peonies.
Tears fall while talking to Shane on the phone, but he knows his mother well. He goes on unperturbed offering kind words in a soft, warm loving way. He understands how much it hurts when Cory visits then leaves.
“Be gentle to yourself,” he said, chuckling because we go through this every time.
There is something about Cory visiting home then leaving which rips a hole inside me. Most mothers miss family members who live far away, but my feelings of loss are exacerbated because of the separation from the ‘origin family’ to keep myself safe and authentic.
Once the self-flogging about every little thing that wasn’t perfect, including me, had worn itself out, and enough tears shed, a tired calm has begun to replace the jittery anxiety. A little wine by the fire helps too.
One so tired out to be able to rest and sleep, but for me the opposite happens, my body moving while th rest of me tries to catch up. On 4 hours of sleep- buzzing around putting toys away downstairs, laundering sheets, remaking beds, putting Thanksgiving stuff away, and zipping around like road runner on speed.
But slowly, ever so slowly, my center will be found. It just takes time.
Samuel added 4 leaves to Grandma’s old oak table. It has been a long time since needing to seat 12 human beings. My hands lovingly rubbed in furniture wax and the golden wood shone with a happy glow as memories churned lovingly.
Our sons were raised with this table, all dinners and homework done on it. Remembering all my childhood Christmas’s with Grandma, Aunt Sarah, and the cousin’s made me smile as my tasks continued.
The punch bowl is out, with a cider ice ring full of cinnamon sticks frozen inside it waiting patiently in the freezer. Orange juice, pineapple juice and sparkling mango orange water will be added to give it zip and tame down the sugars. Punch is a big hit at our house on holidays. The golden yellow-orange will be seasonal, and a red one for Christmas.
Appetizers are simple, cheese, crackers, tortilla chips, bean dip, home-made pepperoni for the meat eaters, guacamole, and the holiday usuals, pickles, and olives both black and green. I always throw in raw carrots and celery but seem to be only person to eat them.
The pies are to come out of the freezer, vegan pumpkin pie, and vegan gluten free apple crisp, all home-made earlier so I can play with the little ones, not cook. Also dairy free ice cream with chocolate syrup for the kids and whip cream- vegan and dairy. Whew!
Yup, vegan, Cory’s family is all vegan and his wife is also very intolerant of gluten. So separate crackers for her, and my friend’s apple crisp recipe was easily converted to gluten free as it is a crumble crust. My attempts at a roll out crust wasn’t my best effort last time around, but this worked great. Two different gravies, and three separate stuffings are also on the menu!
The anticipation of the big day ramps up with Cory arriving tomorrow night, and Shane’s family to join us the day of. Shane will bring gobs of vegan, gluten free mashed potatoes. What could be better? Food and family…
It is a foreign concept to care for myself and my own needs over the guilt my mother instilled. The urge for clan is primal, and after several weeks of calm, the pull erupts again, so much there are dreams about interactions.
My mind plays out scenarios of our ‘family’ being loving, caring, and connected. But each attempt made fails, bringing me backwards to the sister they knew who was malleable and molded into an invisible ghost.
It is like tearing my spirit away, yet in doing so, my spirit freely becomes who I was meant to be, thinking, or believing all along I’d lost her to the unwanted hands upon me as a child.
She is still there. In saying no to others who have pressured me throughout life to do and be who they want, and instead choose more healthy ways of being, this admirable person emerges- me.
Mother’s Day is a good time to thank my sons for being the extraordinary human beings that they are and continue to work at becoming.
How lucky a mother am I!
Their traits, though differing in likes, tastes, past-times, and interests, are so similar in the ways that matter; deeply compassionate, a strong sense of self, hard-working, perseverant, morals of high character, loving, generous, broad minded, tolerant, and possessing great depth.
I could go on as they exemplify all that a mother could want in a son. Thank you, dear sons, for being the men that you are…
Though Cory asked us to stay longer, I could not. This past year has brought more troubled sleep than ever, which also comes with using Xanax more than ever used since prescribed by Raymond back in 1995. Yup, using it sparingly since seeing Raymond, a psychiatrist who lived on a little farmette with goats, chickens, and a horse. He even sold eggs.
It was under his tutelage that I dared return to college to earn my degree in nursing, but the anxiety of entering a world where my belief that everyone would hurt me skyrocketed. Yet even then my use of Xanax was sparse, not touching the height of my anxiety.
So, at Cory’s my use ratchetted to daily from every other day, both bothering me exponentially as using it all used to come much less often.
But sleeping, even if feeling drugged the next day, is better than not sleeping. Thoughts have been dismal, and the wise, gentle voice hasn’t been heard or felt much at all, abandoning me. Why?
The problem must be the combining of cannabis oil and Xanax, backfiring causing more problems, worse problems. So, the oil has been stopped. Several days later there are improvement along with coming home early.
It isn’t easy accepting my limitations, always wanting to take change with as much ease as others, like Samuel, snoring away besides me peacefully in a bed other than ours, moving from one state to another, with a new set of people and places as if he hadn’t a care in the world. Thank god for Samuel. There is one of us to keep us afloat with his calm and natural centeredness. Mine has been shredded.
Usually, it is when Cory comes home to visit then leaves- tears come, prodding that old empty nest loneliness. And when we visit elsewhere, at his house, camping, or a vacation retreat, then we all leave heading home to our respective places, no tears.
Back at home yesterday the questioning and self-hammering beat me senseless, and Samuel covered his ears. My doubts were vocalized as if on repeat even after he said to stop it, seeming to cause more to erupt.
“Why didn’t we stay?” I kept asking, over and over.
“Too late now,” he’d reply.
That is what I do, or used to, second guessing, wishing for perfect order, and a body that performs like others with a mind and emotions to match. But all of me has been shattered in childhood. It takes a life, or many to heal if possible at all.
Finally, one kind thought settled in deeply. Remember? Remember how hard it was? How hard I tried each day to soak in every moment with the 5, 2-year-old, and 4-month baby, the very first time holding her?
Remember just how much medication was used? And then a softness inside, a letting go, kicking out the critic who has raised its monstrous head this past year making me miserable.
A combination of medications can do that. In trying to relieve problems, it can backfire. Pot oil hasn’t been studied much, or enough. What we put on bodies affects each of us differently. In listening to my body, it will speak, and so will my soul.
The tears and self-pounding ended with self-compassion. Kitty purrs on my lap as we are once again united with peace, love and contentment, and loving Cory must continue from afar.
And so it begins, a week of traveling, trepidation, warmth, love and laughter on a trip to Cory’s in the neighboring state to see the new baby and other two young grandchildren.
Before even getting to the main highway, Samuel plays chicken (of sorts) with another car passing on the right, a no no, but no big deal as there are two lanes for a short way due to a turn off.
But for me, anxious to be vulnerable in a car, already foreseeing ungodly car wreaks with me in them, the sudden pedal to the medal spurred me from a reverie of working to slow breathing and calm down to a sudden surge in heart rate with accompanying terror, the gassing and immediate rush of speed making my body spurt out cortisol, or whatever it does when feeling threatened.
“What are you doing?” I asked fearfully, “What are you doing?”
Looking up to see the other car, I realized Samuel became angry because someone dared to pass on the right and retaliated by using our car.
“Just let the assholes be assholes,” I said, and for the next 5 hours he received one word answers to his questions, except for the two word sentence to one of his grunts of complaint (SHUT UP, my longest speech). After my anger which squashes the real feelings which are hurt, tears came hanging head as they fell giving in to them.
That was the start of many challenges that couldn’t be met successfully because it was just too dam hard being elsewhere besides home.
Yet on this last day the memories cherished, the baby smiling up at me in my arms, the other two little ones nestled in my lap, hearing them call my name on the front porch when going out to join them as they played with the bubble makers we gave them, “Hi Nana!” each exclaimed, and the laughter between my son and his wife, all these memories I take home in my heart to weave in and out over and over with warmth and love as long as my lungs still breathe.
Yes, there are challenges, but also great abiding love.
It isn’t earth shattering, what I do. Waking after a restful sleep with deep gratitude for that simple bodily need fulfilled, there it is. What do I do?
A puzzle, a craft readying for the kids to visit over the weekend, or what? Movies play almost non-stop, as if that is my safe way to interact with people. While listening to the voices known by heart because they play so much, household chores are accomplished, or the next meal is prepared- which means a lot of time over the sink.
That is such a pleasure when the morning sun splashes on my face warming my upper body. So, it isn’t earth shattering, what I do.
Yet being in my body, and in my life, following that inner voice that often is ignored or detached from, can cause a reversal of negativity in my closest relationships opening them to growth and better lives for all.
Not just in my life but also in those I touch. Since childhood that voice was ignored. How could it not be when divided from it at age eight? That voice calls in the night preventing sleep till listened to. That or the PTSD devil, haven’t decided which.
It is an upheaval of deep angst and unhealth, but when re-connecting and following through…that IS earth shattering! Asking for what I need takes an extraordinary amount of energy and is exhausting. Others have become accustomed to my placidity and apologetic tendencies. When persevering for what feels right repeatedly and doggedly until the desired outcome, well, that must be surprising and difficult to ignore.
It is the little things that shatter the old ways creating new and wonderous ones…
Looking at my hand, it’s not my mother’s it reminds me of, but my grandmother Pearl’s. She instilled about the only feelings of safety to be had as a child. Being home, meant being preyed upon, never knowing when the next attack would occur.
Unfortunately, Chet followed me to grandma’s house for overnight’s and attacked me there too. But mostly it was my younger brother and me who stayed the night, so most memories are of her loving presence, and a stable routine that was not found in the chaos at home right down the same road;
the quarter she gave each week for school to put into the banking account, watching it grow as the years passed.
checking homework every night and helping me to understand my mistakes.
the warm air blowing under the table from the wall heater as we ate our breakfast after choosing which little box of cereal to eat. The fond memories are endless…
My gold wedding band, just like hers that she wore on thin gnarled hands clasped across each other on her lap telling me stories of the olden days out west when traveling on horseback was the norm. Even today at her homestead there still are iron rings drilled into the tall pines where carriages were hooked up, though she traveled from this world long ago.
I cannot help wondering what my life would have been without her, one place where love, safety, and security flowed. My grandmother had a hard life, losing her husband during the flu pandemic when her two children were just toddlers. But she had peace inside her despite the hardships and struggles, because, well, because she didn’t stray from true values and lived by her core rules. My mother? My mother died never finding her peace, or maybe, hopefully, in the moments just before death?
She popped out babies one after another too drunk for either one of them to go that dresser drawer and put on the rubbers I once found, filling them up with water thinking they were balloons. But then the babies grew, dad died so young, and she was left with 8 of us. Her mantra, all 8 kids, as if such an albatross around her neck. She had said many times how she couldn’t wait for them all to leave. No wonder we are so fucked up.
There was a book I read years earlier, ‘Cheaper by the Dozen.’ That family lost their father too. But they didn’t disintegrate after his death. They came closer together in love and support. I so longed for that while reading, wondering why our family couldn’t do that too.
My mother could not find her peace. She couldn’t forgive herself? There was too much to forgive? That she didn’t completely grow from bitterness to acceptance? I don’t know which, or perhaps all. Isn’t there grace for everyone? “Amazing grace! how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch; like me!”