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.
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.