A few days ago I started to get glimpses of The Calm. I started to let go of trying to plan for the unknown. I started to Just Be.
Realizing I couldn’t make Monday get here any faster. Realizing I couldn’t make the cancer change it’s shape or course. Realizing I couldn’t plan for the unknown. I started noticing my stomach wasn’t in knots. My shoulders weren’t hanging out with my earlobes. My tongue wasn’t trying to bore a hole in the roof of my mouth.
I had taken my hands off the wheel. (Thank you, Peter, for writing those words when I needed to read them most.)
My hands were off the wheel, but I was still turning around to yell at the kids in the back seat. I am the mom, after all.
Instead of exchanging gifts with each other this year, my husband asked if we could do a family portrait before he starts to (in his words) look like an alien. This is the one gift he wants from us. That’s all.
In the Hallmark version of this movie, the kids put on their well-coordinated outfits (lovingly chosen for them by a mother who doesn’t want to appear on Awkward Family Photos) with somber, yet joyful, attitudes as they prepare to give their father this one special gift.
In reality, it required a fucking crowbar to get them to bathe. A cat of nine-tails was required to get them into their respective outfits and shape their hair into something other than a rat’s nest. On the drive to the location, Bug started to chant about how much he hates jeans. Upon arrival, he stood in the parking lot, refusing to open his eyes. Asperger’s and Tourette’s aren’t the best syndromes to be dealing with when you’re trying to do a photo shoot. Even when you’ve prepped.
During the photo shoot, Bug was doing his best impersonation of Marvin the depressed robot from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. His dad and I reminded him this was the one gift his father had requested this year. “Yeah, I know, that’s why I’m trying not to complain constantly.”
In an effort to guarantee my position as Mother-of-the-Year, I whispered into his ear, “When you complain to the person you’re giving the gift to, it’s no longer a gift. This may be the last Christmas gift you get to give your father, so I suggest you pry your head out of your ass and skip the complaining altogether.” Or something along those lines. It may have been kinder, it probably wasn’t. While Bug is overly sensitive about some things, there are other things that require a rubber mallet approach in order to grab his attention. Sometimes, it’s hard to gauge which one you’re dealing with. This felt like a Rubber Mallet situation. Either way, I’d been sitting in the passenger seat of a car going God only knows where (literally) and had reached the end of my rope, so he was getting a Rubber Mallet approach.
God bless him and his teen angst if he didn’t reply, “I know, Mom,” in that droll way they do—one party snotty attitude and one part “fine, I’ll do it if you’ll just get off my case.” Just like I did any time my parents asked me to do ANYTHING when I was between the ages of eleven and nineteen.
So, yeah. I’m expecting my Mother-of-the-Year plaque in the mail any day now. I’ll also be doing a shitload of explaining about how mothers make mistakes and say stupid things—this mother in particular. I have a gold medal in that event—over a decade running now. I’m actually a record-holder in a few events, which is why we call it the Therapy/College Fund.