I come from a long line of head strong, persistent, unbending, determined, unshakable and even sometimes stubborn, vain and obstinate women. These traits are as cultivated and propagated in Southern women as energetically as our “famous” manners. We grow up being taught that saying pretty please, thank you and I’ll pray for you is of the same importance as lip gloss and mascara.
We are coached early in our little lives how and when we pray for the neighbors, when saying bless their hearts is appropriate (nicely or not so nicely), you don’t leave the house without makeup and most importantly when and where to wear waterproof mascara. There isn’t southern woman alive that doesn’t have the “special” tube of mascara for funerals and maybe a wedding. You can bet your bottom dollar if you see a Southern woman crying that wasn’t prepared with waterproof mascara someone has messed up really bad and there will be HELL to pay. I would suggest to run…..
Southern women are reared knowing there are only a few acceptable reasons to show weakness and cry and even then you best not be sobbing in public. That’s reserved solely for those closest to you who can’t run away. This is typically our poor husbands who is completely screwed regardless of what direction he chooses. This poor testosterone filled man who typically is married to the Rock of Gibraltar now finds himself in an non win situation. He really has no good options. If he tries to fix it he is condescending and if he comforts he is babying (and you DON’T baby tenacious) The smart ones just quietly help around the house, hug us tight and send us to the friends for a good cry until it’s out of system.
We need a good cry as much as the next girl – we just DON’T like it!! Somehow we think it’s disrespectful to all those strong women who we come from to fall apart. It’s like we’re disappointing them or we will make them roll over in their graves. The most scary option is they’ll come haunt me. I can’t have that – if my granny came visiting and saw how messy my house is she wouldn’t just role over in her grave she would do somersaults and never leave. I already hear my momma in my head all day- I really don’t know if I could take her too…….
So after telling you all this – you can imagine my surprise the other day as I was driving alone to pick up a parasite (children for those nicer than me) when I found black mascara tears rolling down my cheeks. I have always prided myself on being a “tough ole broad” I don’t cry often and hate it sincerely. If I cry it’s usually a built up explode. Either my feeling are really hurt or I’m mad and trying NOT to kill you, but this was different.
These tears didn’t come from anger or my feelings being hurt, they came from a different place. My first thought was “damn menopause hormones”, but the honest truth is I think they came from a different place. These tears were coming from the sadness of the “light at the end of the tunnel”
I remember when I had three parasites, all in diapers, and I would speak to people who had teenagers and be jealous. I felt like my life was crazy and I saw no end in site. It was a constant life of “diapers, dinners, momma and honey” I remember saying “you have light at then end of tunnel and I’m not so sure I’ll survive til I get there” I never understood their looks of longing at my jealously.
As I sit here today with that light getting so bright in my eyes I need sunglasses I understand. I look up at all my parasites (they’re all taller than me now) and realize I have so little time with them left. I keep thinking it went too fast! Did I do a good enough job? Will they be a good citizen? Will they be good to their fellow humans? Will they be good parents some day? Did they hear me and will they pass on at least a little of what I taught them?
What I realized is the tears came from the realization that my “job” as a parent is almost over. It’s the understanding that this is the most significant job and role I’ll ever play and the only one that may have an impact in 100 years. The tears were rolling down my cheeks because they’re typical teenagers and sometimes I’m so proud my chest may bust and sometimes I’m so scared I can’t breathe. (if you haven’t ever had the experience of teaching a teenager to drive or gotten the call “mom I had a wreck” yet- my advice is your best bet is to keep them in diapers)
The tears were rolling because I’m at the point where I can only maneuver the people I’ve helped develop – good or bad. The heavy lifting of right and wrong and good and evil are past. Their basic emotional and ethic makeup is set. Now I can only pray they heard and choose to live the lessons I tried to teach.
The black mascara tears rolling down my cheeks, which were against every thing I had ever been taught, came from that blinding light or maybe it was only the menopausal hormones . Yep- I think my southern stubborn and unshakable self is going with menopause so the parasites don’t have hell to pay or need to run away any faster than they already are……………..: 😦
Shhhh- come here- no come closer- I have a very disturbing secret to tell you. This is going to be extremely shocking to some of you, but I’m not perfect. Nope I’m not perfect and never have been. As a matter of fact- it seems most of my most severe defects came from birth. My parents tried to give me a warning label, but the Department of Family and Children Services said it was just too cruel. When I met my future husband they did their best to warn him. They spent the year before the marriage making sure he knew every defect before he said “I do”. I think they were petrified he would say “I do” and feel duped and try to bring me back. In Southern society you truly are never considered a “REAL” adult til you get married and someone else has to take responsibility and go get you when you break down on the side of the road. It had taken them 30 years to get someone to take me off their hands and pick me up and they certainly didn’t want me back- especially with little ones in tow. Luckily he was and is stubborn and has a quirky sense of humor so we survive.
Now I have always said that parasites (or children for those of you who are nicer than me) are just God’s way of laughing at you while he shows you all of your own strengths and weakness magnified by a thousand every day. Now that I am through with the diapers, the cherub faced toddlers, and almost through the elementary years I am realizing there is actually light at the end of the tunnel. Now I used to think the light at the end of the tunnel meant I, and they, would survive the teenage years and they would pack their stuff and leave for college with a kiss on the cheek and a swift kick on the backside. Now that I can see the pinprick of light I am actually realizing that the end of the tunnel actually probably means getting them through college and hopefully mated off for life.
This has started me thinking about making their own warning labels. I’ve raised them and since many of their most annoying defects seem to be inherited from me -who better to write them? The list so far sounds a little like this:
1) Unless you install self closing cabinet doors and drawers in your house they will always remain open
2) Yes they see the toilet paper holder, but the cabinet next to the toilet and the back of the toilet are perfectly acceptable places to for it to sit. Hey- it avoids the fight over if it rolls off the top or bottom.
3) Piles of random stuff are an perfectly acceptable organization method
4) King size beds are designed for only a twin sized portion to be slept on
5) You may take a cold shower at some point in your marriage because the gas bill was accidentally forgotten to be paid
6) They will borrow your car because theirs is too dirty for anyone else to see
Now many people consider these traits lazy, but in their defense (mainly mine) they just seem to be trivial when your brain has already wondered off to the next task. My brain wonders off a lot so I’m usually lucky if I ever finish a whole task. I opened the cabinet and got the glass so now my brain has moved on to getting something to drink- the closing of the cabinet just never entered the equation. I got the toilet paper and now I need to use it- putting it on the roll holder just didn’t go in the order of what needed to be done. I have the money to pay it so I can just do it tomorrow. They just get mad and turn it off when you say I’ll do it tomorrow for about 60 days. Who knew it took three days to turn it back on? Everyone else turns them back on the same day so that one only took once. 🙂
I think after raising our parasites most parents start to understand arranged marriages – we have more wisdom and can see the issue’s coming a mile away. Alas- we are doomed to watch them make them same mistakes and pray for the right one to come along. I just pray that after I warn their future mates that they have picked and brought home to mama that they will get a twinkle in their eye, giggle and say “I love closing cabinet doors, putting toilet paper on the roll, organizing piles, snuggling, taking cold showers, and cleaning cars” to which I will lovingly reply “You are the one and keep that sense of humor you may need it. Oh and by the way- you have been warned so no returns accepted!!”
We hear about “the one” a lot in life. “The one” perfect person, soul mate, friend, job, house, outfit and on and on. We spend most of our life waiting or searching for that perfect “The One”. I’m not sure I believe in “the one” in most of those circumstances. I know some do find it early, but I think most of us have many many “One’s” over our life times. These “one’s” fill different spaces and needs as our lives progress through the craziness.
I only started to believe in “The One” after this long insane ride through motherhood. If you have multiple parasites (or those wonderful little creatures who you gave birth too) you will understand my version of “The One”. My version is “That Child”
This “one” hits you right between the eyes- you weren’t waiting, or expecting, or probably even wanting it to come. It’s “that child” who was born with the innate ability to push every button you have until your head starts to spin like the Exorcist, you scream, threaten, and in general look like you should be committed to the asylum at any second. The amazing thing is that this child (who has accomplished this monumental feat of turning you into The Wicked Witch of the West) now stands looking at you confused. He has even said in these volatile moments “Wow mom- Why are you so mad?” I’m not sure if he really is dumb enough to not know or if I he believed somehow in that hollow head that this would help. Needless to say- either way- WRONG!
The first two parasites I birthed did not come out of the womb with this skill. They were pretty good at listening, minding, not arguing and in general not making moms head explode. Maybe that is why I thought having a third seemed like a brilliant idea. Note to self- more children than adults – never a brilliant idea!! The older parasites have their moments, but they are fewer and much farther between. They now sit and watch “the one” with faces of astonishment at – what they call -stupidity.
Now “the one” also came with a built in survival skill set. I believe God put him all together and looked and said “oh my, she may kill him before he’s grown so we may need to make him funny” Well they may of overdone it, but he IS funny. He uses his humor to convince perfectly normal adults to protect him when he turns me into the raging lunatic. When he was little he could wrap an entire room of adults around his finger in about 30 seconds flat. Now this would be great, but after he accomplished the feat he would walk up to an adult call them a fart knocker and smirk at me. I would get up to punish the child and most adults would hide him while laughing and say “Now Val, he’s just so cute and funny” OK- just cause he’s cute he still can’t call adults fart knockers. (NO I STILL DON’T KNOW WHERE HE EVEN LEARNED FART KNOCKER)
He can be stubborn, argumentative, loud, difficult, manipulative, never gives up, never forgets, funny and is the baby. Basically all of my husbands and my own traits that drive me bat shit nuts all rolled up into one package of my insanity. Basically “The One” is “That Child” that shows you your own strengths and weaknesses magnified by 1000 every day. Remember when your parents cursed you with “I hope you have to pay for your raising” Yep you guessed it – that’s “THE ONE”
I’m going to say something very shocking for those of you who know me- I can be a little irreverent. Well OK maybe a lot! I don’t tend to be the disrespectful kind- I just usually see the humor in things that most people hold dear so some take it as callous. I’m actually too old to care most of time and since I’m getting older I don’t think it’s going to get much better. You know the old saying “F em if they can’t take a joke”- well that pretty much sums up my thought processes of the issue.
I see all of these list of 10 things etc etc going around so I figured why not do my own. I’ll never get it all done today in this blog because as life goes on we learn new things everyday!
Here’s what I’ve got so far:
1) People that are mushy and tooooo nice usually are full of ……!
I don’t think they mean to be, but for gods sake, please do not try to convince me you are that happy and gushy all the time! I have no doubt most of them “think” the same things I do, but don’t have the stones to say them. That’s OK- I have no problem if you are not comfortable saying them- just don’t judge me or think I’m callous because it “accidentally” slipping out of my mouth! You thought it too and if not well “Bless your heart”!!
2) Be proud and own the things you can’t live down anyway!!
I know this is shocking, but I’ve done some down right stupid things in my life! If you have long term friends and family you will be all too aware that they will NEVER let you live those stupid things down anyway so you might as well embrace em!! I accidentally slammed “my own head” in a car door in my 20’s (yes I was sober). I still hear about it at least once a year!! I have learned to bow and take my applause. Sometimes the stupid things we do make us memorable and memorable is always better than forgettable!!
3) Sometimes I know who NOT to vote for by whose yards their campaign signs are in
Everybody knows someone who falls into the category of “those” people. My definition of “those” people is very simple. They are always the people that have extreme views on everything and no tolerance for anything else. If they put a campaign sign in their yard- you can be darn tooting I will not be voting for that candidate! We investigate our candidates -sometimes I think candidates should be able to investigate the craziness of their supporters before they advertise it! 🙂
4) People who have no or very few friends- usually there’s a valid reason
This life lesson took some time and age to really sink into my brain!! I always had this empathetic need to be their friends. I felt like if only they could see that life was fun and enjoyable they would magically change their attitudes and become decent human beings. Guess what??? It NEVER freaking happens!! Miserable people want to be miserable people! Best advice I can give you is get out of their pig pen and let them wallow alone!! My granny always said “if you fly with the crows you get shot with the crows” well I’m changing it to “if you wallow with the miserable- you’ll need Prozac too”
5) Marriage is a wonderful institution for those of us who really need to be institutionalized!!
I hear all of these people saying “marriage is work” “marriage is a journey” etc etc I don’t think marriage is any of those. Marriage is simply a choice you both make everyday to be downright stubborn. Now I’m not saying you’re even gonna agree on the decision to stay married everyday cause trust me- you won’t. In 16 years of marriage we have had some humdinger arguments and we are probably still married only due to my husbands steadfast hard headedness. We are still here and most days I’m happy he can be a stubborn ass and he just knows I need to be institutionalized!! 🙂
I’m working on “Things I’ve learned during motherhood” so if you think I’m irreverent now- you ain’t seen nothing yet!!! 🙂