December 13, 2004 - 8:52 amSEVERE COLLAPSERATION
I’ve been feeling a little out of sorts lately.
I’m doing a lot better now though, since, as proof of his metro-sexuality, Erik took me to get a pedicure by some hot Vietnamese chicks (complete with leg massage and paraffin wax treatment) and then to Trader Vic’s for a really large bowl of something I feel certain was highly flammable. That theory would seem to be supported by the fact that the drink came with two-foot-long straws so you didn't have to get your face anywhere near the fumes rising from the petals of the rapidly wilting lily floating inside. The drink menus were huge and colorful and had pictures of topless Polynesian women on them. By contrast, the food menu was tiny and plain.
Why would Erik do this for me, you ask? He claimed it was just a belated birthday present, and I'd like to tell you that Erik knows me well enough to know that was exactly what I needed. But since he already took me to see Ozomatli the week before my actual birthday, I suspect he really just wanted company while he got a pedicure himself before taking off for his great aunt's place in lower Manhattan to go clothes shopping for the week. Did I already use the word metro-sexual? Yeah, I think I did.
I also went for a nine mile run, baked four dozen cookies, and hired a maid, and these are things that make me feel good.
But, just in case you found yourself asking, “What the hell is her problem?” after reading my last entry, I guess I'll tell you. It happens around this time of year, most likely due to my way-too-high expectations that Christmas should be as sweet and perfect as it was when I was a kid.
My mom always made everything so fabulous for us with the most mundane stuff it was like magic. Give this woman a bit of twine, a few scraps of burlap, and some pine cones, and she could construct a Christmas castle the sugar plum fairies would covet. She painted our wooden ornaments just so; she put cinnamon oil on rings around the lamps to scent the house. One year she sewed a hooded wool cape for herself, a kilt for my grandfather, and countless things for my sister and me, labeling them all “Love, Santa.” Our house was warm and welcoming all year, but Christmas was especially so. She was Martha Stewart driven by love instead of money. But more than this, she was beautiful, kind, patient, and positively radiant with a love of life. Everyone who knew her loved her. I’m just sorry my kids never got that chance.
Even more unfortunate is that because she died long before I had children, I wasn’t able to fully appreciate my mom’s way with kids or to coax her best secrets out of her. In fact, my biggest regret is that I was not at a point in my life when she died to understand how well a mother knows her own children. Looking back now, as a mother myself, her wisdom is painfully apparent. She had a long talk with both my sister and me just before she died in what I imagine to be a vain attempt to impart a lifetime’s worth of mothering into the short time she knew she had left on this earth with us. But I was so self-absorbed and in such denial about what was going on that I proceeded to ignore everything she said for a really long time.
And then it all came back to me when I had my own children. Not just her last words, but her whole way of being. I miss her more now than I ever have.
My dad, bless his heart, is a great guy and has inspired me in ways only a dad can – like instilling in me an appreciation of how things are constructed, tickling and wrestling with me as a kid, revealing the undeniable truth of math, and teaching me the importance of being true to yourself and accepting the consequences. But when it comes to recalling memories of our childhood, his expression goes as blank as George Bush’s head when his advisors bring up China. Dad has no idea what our first words were, when we first walked, or even what we were really like at all as young children. He just smiles and says, “You sure were cute little things!”
So I’m trying hard to commit to memory, in detail, small moments of my own children’s lives so I can always recall their unique qualities for them and assure them that I was there and I was paying attention, just as my mom did for me all of her short life.
My kids remind me of how special my mom was and inspire me to strive toward being even half the mother she was. They also happen to be the best cheerer-uppers around, so although most of these precious moments are just between us, I’ll share a few pictures and some examples of great things they’ve said for anyone else out there with holiday woes of Grinch proportions.
Here, have a laugh, and enjoy the Christmas season as if you were a kid again. It’s what your mother would want for you.
The Girl (age 3, when the band-aid on her finger was too tight): My finger is beeping.
The Boy (age 3, when his hand fell asleep): My hand feels spicy.
The Girl (age 3): When I eat a lemon my lips go away.
The Boy (age 4): Black rules the World of Crayons.
John (early one morning): Good morning! Come give me a hug!
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