Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Vanilla Yogurt

I've written here before about how supportive my mother has been during the past year and a half. Surprisingly supportive. And how much I appreciate this, given that my husband's parents have really fumbled the ball.

And so I find myself this week in a bit of a conundrum: all the old, parental baggage that I despise so incredibly, nauseatingly (Is that a word? Mind if I use it anyway?) much, is rising up in my gut, and I'm trying my best to reconcile the clumps of our relationship that I can't stand with the stuff I cherish.

You see, my mother is a wonderful, smart, articulate, well-read, politically astute, food-savvy, culturally literate woman whom I love to chat with until the wee hours. On the phone. While she's in another state. Because when she starts inching closer, suddenly the ol' martyrdom, passive-aggressive, travel-incompetence rears it's ugly head.

Not only are my parents coming to visit, but we're then traveling with them. To the Outer Banks. To spend some time with my uncle (my Dad's brother) and his family, which includes my favorite cousin and her son who is Bella's age.

So, there is "Yay! Beach for a week with peers and cocktail hour! Woot!" And then there is this:

Are there stores there?

I can't believe I'm leaving the dessert to go to the beach for a week.

What will we need to bring? Will your dad be able to get his yogurt?

I was just telling my co-worker how insane it is that it's 112 here, and I'm going to the beach for my vacation.

No, he needs Danon, vanilla. Do you think they sell Danon? Can we find out?

Will we need to bring dishtowels?

Do you know how hot it will be?

What about eggs? We eat a lot of eggs, now.

I'm going to send you a list of food we normally eat to see what you think we need to shop for in advance and what we might be able to get there.*

I hate traveling with books. Do you think you have anything I could borrow?

Damn, it's going to be hot, isn't it. What do they eat there?

Could you pick up a book for me?

Huh. Well. I wouldn't know about Orzo salad. We don't do pasta anymore. Do you think they eat cucumbers? Do you think they sell cucumbers there?

So I don't need a hoodie or anything, right? It's going to be hot? It was 110 today. 110.

I think you can see where this is going. To sum up quickly: Mom doesn't want to go to the beach. I think in part because, quite frankly, she doesn't want to go to the beach, but I also detect an undercurrent of "We're going to spend an entire week with your Dad's family and I'm PISSED as hell about it." Also? Getting fussy in the waning years of mid-life. (Seriously, must it be DANON? For a fucking WEEK he couldn't eat another brand?) I'm slightly amused, I must say, by the thought that she equates the Outer Banks with Mars when it comes to conveniences (and in her defense, we go pretty far south of the golf-courses and Vera Bradly handbags), and that my family eats tv dinners slathered with cheez-whiz, drowned with sanka avec non-dairy powdered creamer. (Does she remember who I am?)

Also? I'm going to go out of my mind once they arrive Wednesday trying to prepare my family to go by 5 a.m. Saturday morning. I already detect multiple trips to the grocery store, passive-aggressive dietary criticism on my choice of side-dish preparations (for a fucking vacation! Can South Beach take a hike for a night? Because I'm having a Smore. So there.), getting extremely sidetracked while discussing, ad nauseum, that yes, I have ordered linens to be there waiting for us so we do NOT need to pack EXTRA washcloths. Thank you.

So you'd think my mom would maybe want to spend time with her family while back East, but apparently not so much. I'm sparing you (well, no I'm not, here it is:) an interesting sub-story, which is that my mother's sister, my aunt, who lives west of us in the country, is the primary caretaker of their ailing parents, my grandparents. My aunt drives them to appointments, invites them to 98% of all gatherings at her house, makes phone calls for them, helps them with day-to-day jazz. But sometimes, you know, my aunt gets tired. Sometimes, like on the 4th of July, my aunt decided that she really didn't want to be responsible for shuttling parents back to their homes after dark, before fireworks, and instead, wanted to get ripped on frozen Mojitos. So she didn't invite them. And my mom, from a million miles away, called this "immature."

Now, as it turns out, my 91 year old grandfather is having a small cancerous tumor removed (one they discovered, incidentally, a decade ago, that they thought would outlive him) the night before we go to the shore, and his doctors have expressed that even though this is "outpatient," he should have someone stay the night with him at his house (my grandparents are divorced). My aunt apparently has plans that night, even though she's driving him to and from his surgery. And so my mother, who will be on her "vacation" (I always get around this by calling it "going East/West" because usually the trip to see family in either direction hardly resembles what one might call a "vacation") is going to stay this night at his house. But not without a WHOLE helluva lot of interjections.

I guess I have to do it. (Heavy sigh.) [Aunt] says she's busy.

I guess we'll stay. We'll leave for the shore Saturday or early Sunday.

I don't know who else can stay with him. He needs someone there. [Aunt]'s just gonna drop him off, like she always does.

Could you get us a map?

Did I tell you we decided to stay with [Grandpa] that night? [Aunt] claims she has plans, or something.

Not a fuck of a lot of sympathy coming from me. One night? 12 hours? In the grand scheme of his care? Your turn, honey.

So I will be at the shore, drink most likely in hand, awaiting my parents' arrival late Saturday/Early Sunday, most likely late, presumably lost along the way, complaining about our car they'll be borrowing, hoping on all that's holy that the week will get better once we're actually there.

So where's this store? Can we go tonight?

God, it's hot.

* And I quote: "Hanson's Sugar Free Ginger Ale, Non-fat cottage cheese, Dannon Lo-fat vanilla yogurt, Granola (I usually eat x, but anything you use is fine), Half and Half AND fat-free Half and Half, eggs, cheese, bread, olive oil, cucumbers, lemon, feta, Dill, melon, fruit, tea, veggies for roasting.

109 Today."


Not to give mom the last word: This marks my 100th post. I am not quite as prolific as some of you (I started blogging last September), but like many, have found this to be most therapeutic, supportive, and helpful. I thank you for obliging. And abiding. Enjoy your weeks.


Which Box said...

Oh lord, you had my laughing in sympathy and empathy with you. Learned helplessness? Passive aggressive bullshit? Whatever it is, I want no part.

I've been thinking a lot about my mom's visit when my daughter was born. I didn't empty the dishwasher because I didn't know here you wanted things. I didn't make you a sandwich because I didn't know how you wanted it cut. Yes, cut. I didn't do laundry because I don't know how you like it done.

You're 65 years old, lady. You know ho to do laundry. For pete's sake.

Whew. OK. Have fun on your vacation, very, very jealous. Drink lots. Am extraordinarily jealous of that part.

niobe said...

I'm beginning to wonder why they ever agreed to come in the first place....

janis said...

Tash, you need to drink a lot. You know, not water, but the other type of drinks... deep hydrated. stay half-drunk. It'll be ok. You can do it, or you can come and spew and swear here. My ears are so open.

Oh, and in case I come visit you, I don't do low-fat, no-fat or no-sugar. Goodness. I eat real butter, full fat cream. I dunno what's with the non-fat obsession in this country. It is sick. ok, I am pushing my own agenda here... now you go pack and breathe a lot. Thinking of you and sending you strength. xoxo

Aurelia said...


Crying with laughter---

Have fun and book a second vacation now, so you can actually have fun.

Natalie said...

OMG, poor you. LOL! I can just picture it. I like the idea of staying half-drunk. That should work wonders for you.

We do require more stories, though.

loribeth said...

LOL... are we related?? Your mother sounds like my mother. I love her to bits but she also has the power to drive me nuts -- especially when we travel together. It's a major production to get a hotel room that suits her (non-smoking, non-scent sprayed, not near the central air conditioning unit, the pop machine or the elevator).

Enjoy (??) your vacation!

G said...

I agree with Natalie, we need more stories like this. It's your therapy, we are here for you (nevermind that I am wiping tears away from laughter).

Lordy lordy lordy, I often wonder when our parents became so needy. Isn't that our job, as kids?

Mrs. Spit said...

Thanks Tash. That really made me smile. Just let us know where we need to send the darn yoghurt. And possibly the valium.

congrats on your 100th post, it's always a pleasure to read your writing.

Julia said...

Happy (?!) 100th.

Staying half-drunk sounds good. Her shopping list sounds like she lives by a Trader Joe's. Except, possibly, for the dannon part.

My own mother has some food issues herself, but they are mostly expressed in the form of bringing or cooking too much. And, occasionally, asking me whether I need X, getting a no, and bringing it anyway because she already had it and it was going to go bad, see? So whydidyaaskmethen, ha? But all things being even, I think I might prefer my mom's food issues to your mom's food issues. Sorry 'bout that. :)

Enjoy the beach and the drinks. Have extra drinks, for me. K?

debbie said...

Every year my family treks to Bethany Beach for a family vacation/nightmare. My sister is incredibly obnoxious and controlling and the trip pretty much sucks, but we go every year spending tons of money to do it, so that we can see my adorable nieces and the rest of my siblings. Based on my somewhat similar experience, I guess I would suggest trying focusing on Bella and see if you can drowned your mom's annoying habits out.

That being said, focusing on my nieces only works to a certain extent w/ my sister, so I try and avoid her for the rest of the time, which of course, doesn't really work. For your own sake, don't feel guilty for taking your family on a long walk on the beach, or going out at night without her. I would also suggest trying not to hold in your feelings or you will just simmer. Email her, tell her ahead of time how you feel, especially the annoying food/south beach compulsiveness, why the hell not? Do it for yourself. Life's too short to always be polite to your own detriment.

If that doesn't work or you just can't bring yourself to do that, thank G-d that the Outerbanks is full of drive-thru liquor stores!!

A BOMB said...

I just stoped by and found it to be much like the lives of us all and thank you for the story.

Kymberli said...

Medium-level inebriation is in call, I think. Thanks for today's laugh.

Congrats to your 100.

Melissia said...

Your mom should travel with my dad. And they can both vacation together. We were at the outer banks last year where Dannon lo fat vanilla yogurt was to be had in both the large and small conatiners at most grocery stores. Ask me how I know, it must be an old people food! Good luck. Haldol now comes in sprinkles, you could put it on her low fat frozen yogurt in the evenings. I thought about it with my dad, and figured it would make for a much nicer vacation without me getting loaded. Just kidding, sort of.

sweetsalty kate said...

Oh my god, is J. Lo your mother, or WHAT? That is crazy. That made me want to poke my eyes out with the Danon. Hilarious though, and Janis beat me to it: the cure for all your ills is proactive alcohol.

And Danon.

A.M.S. said...

Hey Tash,

Do me a favor...go to Sam and Omie's in Nag's Head...have a big bowl of Wanchese style clam chowder and a cold beer. Savor it slowly for me. Then, take a walk along the beach in the twilight as the sun sets over the bayside of the island. I haven't gotten to do that in years and at this point, I'll take the vicarious experience. I'm experiencing a serious need for an OBX infusion!

Hope you have a wonderful time.

Megan said...

They've been 100 lovely posts, Tash. I've been reading but quiet lately – just can't think of anything intelligent to say and it seems churlish to complain about how freaked out I am. Baby is still alive. His or her mom would kill for a G&T.
Have a lovely holiday, sweetpea.
(I hear you about the family travel, though. My FIL must have a cup of hot tea at 3 p.m. – even if you happen to be in say, San Antonio, where such a thing is hard to come by. I'm absolutely certain you can buy eggs in Ocracoke – and an alcoholic haze will blur those edges.)

Tash said...

MEGAN!!! YOU'RE HERE!! So thrilled, excited to here you're there and things are, well, worth freaking the fuck out over. Phew. Email me, would ya?

Aunt Becky said...

Oh Tash. Oh, my sweet friend Tash.

My head is exploding for you.

Lisa b said...

Here's hoping they have Dannon.

CLC said...

Oh, I think you will need lots of g&t's. Requests for Danon will surely seem half humorous if you're drunk. Have a great vaca, hope all goes well with the folks, and happy 100th. Thanks for being here giving me and everyone else support!

c. said...

Holy shit, Tash. Now that's some family drama! I would go nuts. Seriously. Alcohol would be the only thing that would get me through my days. I hope it can do the same for you.

Happy 100th post! Who needs prolific when you can give us stuff like this every once in a while ;o)

Anonymous said...

Seriously!!!! I almost peed my pants!!! Thanks for the laugh tonight!!! I hope you survive...

Pbugs Mommy said...

AFB, you are so very funny, and so very right. I agree with commenters before... daiquiris are your friend... or margaritas, or wine, or whatever your cocktail of choice may be.

Are you sure you're not going to the beach with my family? I spent the 4th of July with my immediate family at the beach for 5 days, which was approximately 4 1/2 days too long. I have decided that you shouldn't spend that amount of time in a confined space with that many people you share genes with. I'm still recovering.. Oy.

luna said...

yeah, I love my mom too but with age she can be a pain in my big fat ass.

hope you have a wonderful time away, and I'm sure you'll have lots of g&ts. enjoy!

Alice said...

Well, this just confirms that families are the same everywhere. Yes, I've seen all that sort of behaviour in my family and my husband's. Mind you, you seem all to be on speaking terms. Half my family don't speak at all. Even if you don't like what they say speaking is still an achievement! Enjoy your trip.


Ahuva Batya said...

God Lord, I was laughing through this whole post. In a highly sympathetic way, of course. It's pretty hard to reconcile the beyond-irritating things about our parents sometimes, with the good in them. Coming from someone who just drove 2400 miles in the same car as her in-laws in the span of 6 days for a family reunion (stay tuned for that blog entry), I suggest you start drinking. Heavily. And take your camera.

Just Me. said...

LOL!!! Had me rolling in laughter here!!!

Woo-hoo to your 100th post!

charmedgirl said...

as i go along, raising my three, i constantly think about (WORRY) in what ways will i drive them bat shit crazy? am i going to do the same crap that i hate about my mother?? does that HAVE to happen?? i kinda fancy myself a laid back, open minded, non-annoying individual...maybe that's what they'll bitch about? maybe they'll turn out to be (BLEH BLEH BLEH!!!) conservative tight ass republicans?!?!

anyway, try to have fun...and thanks for the 100 posts!!

kate said...

LOL about your mom. Mine is very similar except she won't leave the house for any vacation whatsoever. I think this absolute obsession with this food or that food etc. is just part of getting older. I hope you can enjoy your vacation at least a little bit!

Bon said...

ah dude, i'm late to this but you had me laughing...like everyone, in great sympathy. i'd swear you'd stolen my mother except i can't actually get mine to GO anywhere...she gets traveller's cheques to travel three hours away. and she only eats yogurt, i swear.

perhaps your mom should visit HERE. with you. :)

Searching said...

Happy 100!

I've been thinking about you and praying you not only make it through this trip, but find some peace and relaxation in some corner of it. Take lots of pics of Bella on the beach.

ps- Maybe your parents can "accidentally" get the wrong directions?

MsPrufrock said...

Happy 100!

Being in the midst of family-time myself, I hear you completely.

I hope you have (had?) fun regardless!

STE said...

"Do they have stores there?"

Oh, Tash, I laughed, I really did, but it was recognition...really...

Hoping it's been an enjoyable vacation despite the family craziness.