Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Rose By Any Other Name is The Big R

Who knew that all I had to do was ask. Be direct. Say something as simple as "Look at that sign, an hour massage for $49.99. I've never had a massage. That would be a wonderful Mother's Day gift." And poof! I get a certificate for a massage for the Natural Health Clinic and Day Spa.

I like this being direct business. It's a shame it's taken me this long to figure it out.

But that's not really what I wanted to write about this morning. I wanted to first express gratitude to the guy who made me a mother, the children to whom I am a mother and to anyone who's ever thought about me "what a mother........" Thank you.

Last night the house filled up with a smart set of talented, gorgeous and witty teens who'd come together to celebrate The Dancer's birthday. As I've mentioned before, this is a group of young adults who are more likely to overindulge in Lipton's Green Tea with Citrus than Jack Daniels. Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll? Um, no. This crowd is is more likely to break out into bouts of competitive tap dancing and show tunes.

Nevertheless, I hung around the house as the "adult" supervision while MathMan took Garbo to see the Hannah Montana movie. Occasionally one of the party-goers would come in and talk to me. One of them asked me if I was torn up about The Dancer going away to school. The honest answer is no. I mean, I'm going to miss her and it's going to be strange to not have her come home in the evenings to sit on the floor of the office and recount the highlights and lowlights of her day, but torn up? Nope. Kids are supposed to grow up and away from us. Or at least that's been the tradition in my family.

I once asked my mother why it bothered her that one set of inlaws in the family were so close-knit. There was a long-standing, but friendly, rivalry between my parents and this other set of parents - especially regarding grandchildren.

The Big R explained that she thought it odd that this inlaw's parents raised their kids to remain dependent on them, cloaking it in a sunny attitude of being "close-knit." Back then I sort of got what The Big R was saying, but I also wondered if there might be a happy medium?

It's that happy medium that I hope we've created for our children. MathMan and I try to be available for them physically and emotionally while making it clear that they are not us and we are not them. I tell my kids when I've had enough of them. Their ability to ignore me tells me the same.

Being part of a family means that much of your interaction consists of boring exchanges of necessary information and, as such, often fall into the category of someone asking something of you. Do this, give me that, hand me a, I need, will you please, don't forget, when will you, and on and on and on.........

It's clear to me, though, that I have used a modified version of The Big R's parenting philosphy in raising my own kids. Where she wasn't excessively warm and demonstrative, I have been. I hug and kiss my kids alot. I tell them I love you and offer words of praise when warranted. That was not The Big R's style, but that's okay. I don't feel like her style really harmed me in any way. I do think, though, that it made me want to be more demonstrative with my own kids so if they benefit from it, maybe that's in the score column after all.

I am never going to be the kind of mama who tells you her life revolves around her kids. I will tell you that they are a pain in my ass, a nuisance and totally inconvenient. I figure I had a life before I became a mother and I'm going to have a life after my kids have moved on to their own lives, so why not have a life of my own now, too? I'd hate to get out of practice.

Don't take that to mean that I don't love them. I'm crazy about them. But I cannot tolerate kid-centric home for very long before I need to erect Les Nessman walls, go off duty or hide in the Quiet Room.

It's a kid's job to put the monkey on someone else's back before trying to do something on their own, you know. Well, unless we're talking about vidoe games, flame-throwers and joy rides on the riding lawnmower. Then they are McGuyver.

Thinking of The Big R, though, I'm reminded that one must be careful what you wish for. She wanted us to independent, right? Back when she forced me to go away to college against my will, the Big R must not have anticipated that I might never move back to my hometown. Years later, after I'd married a guy from Chicago, moved to the city and started my own life, she started to fuss at me for being so far away. Then we moved to a tiny village in Georgia. This was the ultimate insult. "If you want to live in a small town, why don't you move back home?" The Big R asked, half-jokingly I assumed.

I mumbled something about loving the weather in the Deep South and dropped the subject. Someday I may find that I have to travel great distances to see my own kids and that will be just what I deserve, right? My only hope in that regard is that they have adequate space for me and MathMan to come visit and that they have the smarts to live in interesting places. France would be nice. I like Washington, DC. I'm not opposed to summers in Chicago........

Anyway, I owe a thank you to my mother for setting a good example. She may not have been a hugger, but she did show us that a mother can also be an elected official, a volunteer, a 4-H leader, a councilwoman and a myriad of other things that I understand better now as an adult and a mother myself. Mostly she juggled like the rest of us and she did a pretty good job at it. I better tell her so.

Which reminds me. I'd better call The Big R while she's still speaking to me. I understand that my brother The Chief of Police is having lunch with her and Dad. Now that I'm friends with both my siblings on Facebook and I know The Chief of Police has been reading this blog, who knows how mad The Big R will be at me.

Because there's one thing I know for sure about my family, the dynamic doesn't change no matter how old we are. If there's an opportunity to rat out a sibling - Darling Sis and/or The Chief of Police are going to take it.

Me? I just blog about it........

Happy Mothers Day to all of you who have mothered.


  1. Happy Mother's day Lisa. I am glad that you like your gift. I love you. Douglas

  2. Yes, Happy Mother's Day to you too and may I add to all who have been mothered? It's never been an easy job for anyone and even the worst deserve a little love and forgiveness on this day.

  3. Hey Doug!
    I would have done that massage for only $19.99 and you could have watched!
    All kidding aside, you two seem to have created three likable children, which these days is a miracle in iteslf.
    I am a little concerned about The Dancer's birthday party though...teens doing show tunes and tap dancing, trust me on this--is totally gay.
    Oh well. If she's gay you won't have to worry about teen pregnancy. Lesbians don't usually drag out the turkey basters until we are in our mid-to-late 30s.

  4. Happy Mother's to you, Lisa!

    I hope you have a lovely one.

  5. this is just the post I would have like to have written for today. My mom and The Big R sound like they went to mom school together. But you're right: the up-side is that maybe (hopefully) we've hit a middle-ground with this generation.

    Congratulations on a job well done... so far! and I'm very happy to hear about the massage. See if you can't figure out a way for it to be more than a once-a-year deal, won't you? They're ever so good for you!!!

    Happy Day, Mother Lisa!

  6. KZ - I paused for a moment to consider the offer and me thinks that you would not have even charged $19.99.

  7. Happy Mother's day darling one. May your shoulders stay lose and your puss... Never mind. Imagine I was talking about the pussies for peace.

    Great hint taking Mathman.

  8. Happy mother's day to you. You are one of my favorite mothers on this planet.

  9. Very sweet post. We were discussing Mothers' Day in the teachers' lounge the other day. I commented that I have always taken the passive-aggressive approach (learned from my own mother): When they ask you what you would like for Mothers' Day you say something like, "It's just a Hallmark holiday. You don't have to get me anything ..." and then when they take you at your word, you get all hurt and grumpy. That's when my friend Rosy looked at me and asked, "So how's that been workin' out for you, Suzy?"

    Happy Mothers' Day, Lisa!

  10. My mom rocked me to sleep until I was 10 years old. I'm doing my best to pass that along to my 8 year old, who loves to "noozie" (thus the nickname). Sadly, my 8 y-o is 4'3"; I am 5'4". I'm not sure how much longer it will last.

    I plan to enjoy it as long as possible, though.

    I relish in telling both my husband and my daughter, "I love you and all, but someone REALLY needs to go away right now. And no, I don't care where."

  11. Happy Mother's Day Lisa. I agree with you, I was many things before I was a mom, and while it is a role I love, it is not who I am.......all the time.
    I hope you enjoy that massage!

  12. I think there's no right way or wrong way for families to be. As long as everybody knows they're loved, it's all cool!

  13. ...and what a wondeful job you have done, as Mom. this is a lovely post and I would imagine the Big R will still talk to you...she is of course Big R!!! Happy Mother's Day as it winds down for you and the family.

  14. Happy Mom's Day Lisa, Beautiful roses and lovely pictures. I hope you also had a wonderful day.

  15. Happy Mother's Day to you and to "The Big R" too! Lovely post.

  16. My mom didn't get that "they're supposed to grow up and be independent" memo. She petitioned the feds to declare a national day of mourning when my brother and I left for college.

    I've tried to be a little more balanced than that. But... that was my role model.

    Happy Mother's Day Lisa!

  17. Hi Lisa,

    Thanks for the kind words over at Susan's phantsy place. That was a great post, funny and honest and warm. Glad to meet you, and happy mother's day!


  18. Happy Mother's Day, Lisa. Enjoy the massage.

  19. Happy Mother's Day, Lisa! :)

    And enjoy that massage!! :)

  20. Oh my gosh, I just realized that I said almost the same exact thing as the commenter before me--crap! I can't be that unoriginal. So how about this?

    I hope you had a motherf*****g fantastic Mother's Day!! :)

  21. Happy Mothers Day to you! Somehow I think mothers of three or more deserve more happiness (or more to drink - or maybe that's both) on a day like today.

  22. Happy Mother's Day Lisa.. Hope you had a great day.. Love the massage idea.. hope you enjoy it. Sounds like a wonderful idea to me... Sorry I am so late getting around today, was busy with my mom and daughter today .. worked in the yard with mom.. made for a long day but worth it.

    Thanks for stopping in and the good wishes.

  23. So many things to respond to this post. I keep starting sentences and erasing them.

    I like how you are learning to ask for what you need. Your thoughts about family/parenting styles really intrigue me. It's a conversation I've had many times with my own mom. (I'm searching for the happy medium, too.)

    And finally, some family dynamics never change!

  24. Exactly!

    Hope yours was terrific!

  25. Congrats on the massage, and happy Mother's Day.

  26. Happy Mother's Day. When I grow up, I want to be

  27. What a super post - Happy Mother's Day to you. And may I please just say a hearty "AMEN" to the bit about having a life of your own, not being kid-centric?

    I have a few acquaintances who cause me to frequently raise my eyebrows - they cannot possibly go see a movie/have a drink/shop/sit still and formulate a coherent and possibly naughty grown-up thought because their kids need their attention.

    I, too, love my children dearly but I want them to grow up knowing themselves and being comfortable in their own skin - that requires my absence now & again, physically and mentally. Thank you for supporting this point of view.

    You rock.


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