You Can’t Always Get What You Want

I wrote a really good post yesterday morning, on the slings and arrows of Mother’s Day around here, and then bam! Some gray furry thing stepped on the keyboard and that was that. I was so frustrated I decided to quit blogging forever and didn’t change my mind on that until last evening.

The point of that post was that, oh, dear, it was a great post. I just can’t rehash the whole thing. Whatever. I had been thinking about good mothers and Boppys and from there I got to wondering how Mother’s Day ends up as such a mucked up holiday over here.

I started by saying that I was just going to get my Mother’s Day post up now and be done with it so I could come by on the weekend and hear all about your Mother’s Day. The one where your beautiful and sticky bundles of joy leap upon the bed Sunday morning with homemade waffles drowning in maple syrup. The one where the doting and endlessly grateful father of those treacly tots slips a curved link of diamonds about your sylph like neck and shoos the children off to watch cartoons while you model your jewels.

And I wasn’t writing in jest, either, because I think Mother’s Day is the holiday to end all holidays and forget about Jared’s; only Tiffany’s will do. Christmas? All we had to do was fall from Grace to get presents on that holiday. Ditto Easter. Sin and get forgiveness and Cadbury eggs. But Mother’s Day? This is a day that celebrates the literal blood, sweat and tears of our labors (or c-sections, as the case might be.) Only a Commie would fail to recognize this as the mother of all holidays.

Around here, you might say Mother’s Day sucks. First of all, my mother is dead and that’s still relatively new. Plus, she was not exactly June Cleaver. Frankly, she had little aptitude for motherhood. She didn’t cook, she didn’t sit on the floor and play and she had no truck with Dr. Spock. She failed to see the charm of drool, pee and poop. Plus she believed people when they said babies don’t smile, they just have gas. Amelia Earhart or Margaret Mead were more likely matches for her aspirations. Also, she didn’t have much truck with my father either, since he was a Republican farm boy and she was a liberal Connecticut college girl. After a while they threw in the towel on family life and my mother moved us to a slum and let ME be the mother while she went back to school, wrote poetry and…joined the Communist party (briefly).

After a while, love found a way and Bud came on the scene- along with my baby sister. You have no idea how cranky my mother was to find herself pregnant past the age of 40. Back then, most women were done having babies by the time they were in their mid-twenties. But Bud, being the No Choice kind of opportunist he was, saw his one chance for a child and so sweet Laurel joined the brood. And I became a teenage mother in earnest. A clear memory from this period was my mother blowing up at me because I had signed up to take the SATs on a morning when she needed me to watch Laurel. Soon, I left home and had little contact with my family for well over a decade.

One fine May, after I had graduate degrees and a professional life under my belt, Daniel was born. He was slated to arrive towards the end of April but Mother’s Day came and went that year and I remained hot and bovine. Always resistant to change, he never would have come of his own accord; after some thirty hours of labor I went under the knife and came home with a 10 # healthy brown eyed boy and an insane case of postpartum depression. How crazy with despair was I? I called my mother for help.

She came, bearing a handmade quilt with sailboats and puppies and a little school house, all of the squares designed by her and “made with love, from Grandma” stitched on the back. As though she had been lurking in the wings for a few years, just waiting for her entrance. But still, she seemed uncomfortable when it came time to snuggle the baby or do diapers; instead, she cooked and did laundry and tidied up and left me to find my way with him. She only once suggested that he must be crying all the time because he wasn’t getting enough breast milk but she frequently suggested that my mood would improve- she knew from her own experience. One day, the cloud layer lifted a bit and I looked at my mother and we agreed it was time for her to go home.

A short decade later I was happily thriving as a busy mother of two when their father announced he didn’t really want to be married any more. I’m sure he had his reasons for wanting out, but I will never know why he chose Mother’s Day to break the news. You don’t read here tales of resentment and self-pity related to that divorce; now we both look at our lives and say, wow, if not that then we wouldn’t have this and it’s all fine. We both enjoy close and loving relationships with the children. But he certainly did put the icing on the fucked up Mother’s Day cake.

Because young children need a father to aid and assist with the celebration of Mother’s Day, we didn’t much celebrate the day during those early difficult and tiring years of single motherhood. One Mother’s Day, when Daniel was in that dark and sullen middle school phase, he gave me a tee shirt that reads, “It’s Mrs. Bitch to you.” That smart aleck attempt at humor still makes me smile every time I open the dresser drawer and see it.

From Abigail I have my other all time favorite Mother’s Day gift, a fat little handmade book of crayoned coupons that bestows the oddest gifts:

“This coupon is good for cleaning one poop out of the litter box.”

“This coupon is good for the mirdur of six slugs.”

“This coupon is good for folding two towels.”

And so forth. She’s always had a mind for numbers.

This year is one of the “special Mother’s Day years” when Daniel’s birthday falls on Sunday. He will be in Europe with his cellist sweetheart. Abigail will be winging her way to the Dark Continent, land of endless starry nights and plagues. Because they are not yet parents, they can’t really appreciate how a mother feels about her children and her role in their life, on this day of days. They are busy living life.

So there you have it, a brief history of Mother’s Day in my world.

What will I be doing, come Sunday? Maybe I’ll wander up to the zoo and see all the new babies and their mums. Spend a little time puttering in the courtyard. I’ll definitely be counting my blessings. They include a mother who left me a legacy of open and fair minded thinking, good stewardship to Mother Earth and the understanding that children can grow up and love and appreciate mothers who might not fit the usual jello mold. When we were growing up she let us have any animal we wanted as pets and before she died she saw thousands of acres of pristine Lake Superior shoreline protected and preserved, thanks to her efforts. In the end, those things count for almost everything. I miss her mightily.

I’ll consider my grandmother and feel gratitude. Gratitude that when my mother was overwhelmed by her children, she had the good sense to turn us over to the care of her mother, who nursed me through eye surgeries, hard measles, chicken pox and taught me to garden. She also told me that if you are lucky you will always have people who love you in your life but you must still learn to be okay all alone.

Then, armed with some kleenex and a glass of good bubbly I’ve been saving, I’ll consider those two nearly perfect children and give myself a pat on the back. Through my efforts and their father’s and the wonders of our peculiar DNA, I am blessed with a finely tuned and gifted musician son and a smart and sunny daughter who has every chance of becoming a current day Amelia Earhart or Margaret Mead.

Finally, I’ll think about the twists and turns and good fortune that brought me to here, to Rich and his two lovely daughters. All four of these children will definitely call, from long distances, with good wishes and love.

So, you might say Mother’s Day sucks around here, but it doesn’t really. I just have to think outside the box a bit- and go buy myself a present. And I’m NOT cooking dinner. Happy Mother’s Day, one and all!

(today’s pictures come from the Lincoln Park Zoo page; these are of the baby Takin born late this past winter. We are expecting another any moment- maybe for Mother’s Day?)

“You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you just might find
You get what you need…”

29 responses to “You Can’t Always Get What You Want

  1. You have takin my heart to new heights today. The way you share your healthy takin things edifies us all. If your amazing children had not already takin their place of honor and nurturance, I would ask you to be my mum.

    May I share the yoga love and inquire as to whether you’ve takin Halasana – Plow Pose yet today? As you move into Sarvangasana – Shoulder Stand (MOTHER OF ALL YOGA POSES!!) remember that, just as a mother attempts to keep her family happy and in harmony, this pose works to harmonize the body, mind, and spirit. Contraction of the stomach rejuvenates the abdominal organs. Forward bending of the spine relieves back ache and tight shoulders. Interlocking of the fingers relieves cramping of the hands. Fresh blood and oxygen nourishes the brain.

    Geraniums are red;
    Delphiniums are blue.
    Whilst takin Sarvangasana
    I think of you!


    P. S. Your verb choice for Mother’s Day would bring a smile to my Julia just now. ;~)

  2. Ok, so, I’m a commie. 😀 I had a really long comment to this, but when I read it back I realized, it’s just about me. So, I deleted it!

    Your post is lovely and well written–Happy Mother’s Day. I hope all those phone calls are transcendent and you find yourself feeling very much present with the child on the other line. 😀

  3. “I’ll definitely be counting my blessings, which include a mother who left me a legacy of open and fair minded thinking, good stewardship to Mother Earth and the understanding that children can grow up and love and appreciate mothers who might not fit the usual mold. When we were growing up she let us have any animal we wanted as pets and before she died she saw thousands of acres of pristine Lake Superior shoreline protected and preserved, thanks to her efforts. I miss her mightily.”

    Here’s to those Moms, the Moms dancing to a different drummer. Mine was like that, too. I had to learn “mothering” from my cat; from Mom, I learned about curiosity, fair-mindedness, perseverance, acceptance of people as they are, and just plain guts.

    Would that this world had more of these Moms!

  4. We are blessed that even though your post was eaten by the cat, you decided to come back to us and write one that is perhaps better than the one that was lost. Happy Mother’s Day to you Ms. Vicki.

    That Dakin has a mama with a face only a new baby could love.

  5. Wow! What a post. My mother was far from June Cleaver herself. I look at it this way – I do things the opposite way and my son benefits! Happy Mother’s Day!

  6. Mother’s Day does suck, but your perspective on it doesn’t. You have expressed what it’s supposed to be all about–growing into our relationships and life, one crisis/disappointment/joy at a time.

  7. I take it you dug deep and recreated that first post.

    Love ya, Vicki.

  8. Your family is VERY lucky to have you. My mother’s day will not be treacly but it will be nice. Filled with love, I’m sure. I really don’t want the diamonds anyway. I hope something special comes on your Mother’s Day! I loved hearing more about your story — through the perspective of motherhood.

  9. I’m so glad you reconstructed your post. Happy Mother’s Day to you.

  10. I’m so glad you reconstructed your post. Happy Mother’s Day to you.

  11. Happy Mother’s Day, Vick, and I hope that it is a good one. I’ll be thinking of you and your wonderful post.

  12. Thanks…I needed that. ^j^

  13. Well said. It is not always a happy day. I think the card shops set the standard way to high. My kids and hubbie could never meet my expectations until I learned to set them low and be surprised! It is the little things that count. I hope you have a wonderful day with many phone calls.

  14. I understand completely that lack of celebrating Mother’s Day as a single parent. Oh, yes, always the call from the ex blasting you for not doing something for his mom, but nothing that he helps with for you. Mother’s Day and birthdays…

    Nyssa sent me an e-mail… without an attached paper to proofread… that in itself is a gift. She is up to her armpits in resistors, capacitors, wave motions and other such Physics nonsense that goes with a final exam upcoming. She did add in a “happy PRE- mother’s day”. No capital letters… her English major is flagging… never punctuates unless it is a…. “No, he is so EMO!!! I don’t want to talk to him again!” (she had a college crush… apparently it didn’t work out)

    I hope for a quiet day. Not likely.

    My brother has charged me with the task of finding him a home to purchase. He is particular. Big kitchen. Open spaces. Porch that can be screened in. Sunroom. Downstairs master for the parents. 4000+ square feet. Did I mention gourmet kitchen? Hardwood floors. Brick. Pool or at least room for one. So… I am going to open houses, open models, even a realtor to look and the problem is that I fall in love with each one. And then each one has one or two things I don’t think he will like. Also, he wants mom and dad to be comfortable so dad likes rooms more enclosed, mom likes them wide open and free (how did these two stay married 56 years)… and my problem is… I don’t have much “druthers”. My attempt at a dream home came up short and has since gone away. The Mississippi house was as close as I will ever get…. there is no hidden Picasso painting in the walls to discover, no lost stocks to be suddenly found… it is his dream home and I am along for the ride. So I visited three yesterday, three models today, two last week and drove around many, many subdivisions looking for that perfect combination of house and lot that doesn’t completely break the bank, although what he says is his range breaks the bank for me. Hey, I was the one who had three days to find a place to live when we moved to MS and a daycare. I planned to rent but saw so many homes the first day and then there it was… went back three times in the two days… made an offer on the second day… owners on vacation found and accepted and the third day, Sunday, the bank opened the doors before church and took the loan application as I flew back to Oklahoma City at 6AM the following morning. I bought a house on impulse…. I AM NOT SOMEONE WHO IS TRUSTWORTHY TO FIND THE RIGHT HOUSE FOR ANOTHER PERSON!!!

    The houses are running together in my head although I take copious pictures and make sure to have the house front first so as to identify and take multiple notes in that obsessive compulsive med student way. I cannot speak intelligently about them… I am confused… my head hurts… I need sleep…. sigh.

    But the parents seem to be getting into it… this is good… and this is bad. Good because Stephen worried about them adjusting… it has now been over 25 years since they moved. Bad because they want to go see them and they move slow and it is hard to climb steps and they give out after three houses. (There were 10 models open today) Dad stands in a house and starts thinking up things for him to fix. It is a brand new house. He worries about a hurricane and being too close to the ocean…. the last hurricane that really took a bead and hit head on was 70 years ago and the western part of the state actually gets flooded more than here. She worries about her glassware and keeps talking about a walk in tub when she never takes a tub bath but a shower. She worries about an intercom though she can’t hear what I say two feet away and often doesn’t hear the phone ring. I just want to go look and say “scratch this one” or “keep on list”…. this is not as easy as depicted on House Hunters.

    I did remind Stephen of Mother’s Day…. he will probably call. Nyssa seems to remember it, perhaps she will call her grandmothers. Oh, yes… I have a red carnation to wear to church and that is all the blessing I need.

    Cheers to you…. May your day be blessed.
    Oh, I saw a Canadian goose couple with six babies yesterday….. so cute!

  15. Yes, it’s a beautiful post and one that only you could have written, but I’m having a little trouble getting past this one part: your ex broke his big news to you ON MOTHER’S DAY??!!?

    I am sputtering very indignantly.

    Happy Mother’s Day to you, Vicki. I’m so glad you recreated this post for us.

  16. I hope your day will be everything you wished for. Enjoy it!!

  17. What a beautiful post, vicki. You’ve looked at Mother’s Day from every angle, like shining a light through the prism of your heart. Happy Mother’s Day.

  18. “It’s Mrs. Bitch to you.” Hahahaha!

    Wonderful, wonderful writing, Vicki. I can’t even begin to imagine that your thwarted first attempt at a Mother’s Day post could come close to outshining this one. Happy Mother’s Day from a non-Mom.

  19. Vicki, I’ve been thinking of you a lot lately. Things have gotten out of hand and I can’t keep up with blog friends. Your writing is so inspiring and I lurk when I can… But today I wanted to visit and wish you a Happy Mother’s Day, from someone who understands everything you say. My God, you have a great life, wonderful husband, and children who won’t disappoint you. You are a lucky lady. I think we learn a lot from the mothering we had as children.

  20. wow, your ex had an attack of Major DickHead to say adios on Mother’s Day! But lucky you found a good mate after the practice round. And 2 more children in your life! Lucky, Lucky you.
    Happy Mother’s Day, Vicki. Zoo and saved-for-this champagne sound pretty great to me.

  21. Your blogs help us all to understand you well…although, I guess from the responses, I am unusual…both my wife and I had wonderful, caring, mothers, who became wonderful granmothers to our children….no complaining….always pleasant to their last breath…just sad that they are no longer with us…the term Bitch would never fit them, or my wife….so…. my shirt to my mom when I was in middle school would have been…more like…”You’re always there…no matter what”…I can see why we have wars all over the world…it all starts with mom and dad. and kids…if we can’t make it in that setting…how do we expect Putin and Bush to get along?

  22. What a beautiful post, Vicki. I’m so glad that Sophie’s keyboard visitation didn’t drive you to quit blogging. Happy Mother’s Day. Hope you’re enjoying your bubbly.

  23. I think it’s neat how you turned your Mom into such a good person before she died.

    Now then, about Rich: How did you get him to be your son? When I suggested I would do something nice for Scamp, she said, “I’m not your mother.” Indeed.

    Mother’s Day is almost over here, and no calls from the kids. But they did say they would take her to lunch….sometime. Pretty lackadaisical here….

  24. Thanks, Vicki, I should have known that you woul dbe familiar with fish too! Hope you had a great Mother’s Day!

  25. Great post! Happy Mother’s Day. 🙂

  26. Well, you’ve gotta be a glass half-full kinda person to keep your head above water in this day’s world. Sounds like you know that as well as anybody. You turned out successfully, your children are following in your footsteps . . . sounds like the glass is more than half full to me.

  27. Beautiful post. I came over via Miz S, and I’m glad I picked today to do it!

  28. I’m back again. This time I hung on every word. My Mom was a misfit Mom – not a June Cleaver either. Quirky. Left me alone to become independent as I am. Sometimes I was jealous of all of the Moms who rescued and helped out their daughters and sons through adulthood. But she did the right thing, her way, and although I roll my eyes at her mothering techniques, she was a blessing.

  29. This is an incredible post. I loved it.

    Hey, my ex broke the *girlfriend and I’m leaving* news on our anniversary!

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