I wrote an essay two years ago. I’m publishing it here today because Buttercup told me with sad eyes and pouty lips that she missed her Guelo that died when she was a baby and went to stay with Jesus in heaven with the angels. She asked me when I can take her to visit him because it’s probably really pretty up there. And I really wasn’t sure what to say.

***

 

I never referred to them as Grandma and Grandpa. I didn’t even remember them.

Using those words would have made me feel like I was faking affection for my mother’s parents when all I had was a few grainy photos and a grave site for reference.

I knew the story. They had been on the way home from a trip to visit family in Mexico when a trucker fell asleep at the wheel and ran into their vehicle, head on. My mother, who had just turned 20, lost her parents that day. She was supposed to have been on that trip, she tells me, but she just couldn’t bear to leave her 10-month-old daughter for that amount of time.

I know it’s a sad story. But because I have no memory of them I also never allowed myself to feel anything on our yearly treks to the cemetery for birthdays and holidays so my mother could pay her respects.

“Time to go to the cemetery for your parents again?” I’d ask when I’d hear my mom on the phone making arrangements for floral blankets and grave site tags and all that other business that fell into the category of Stuff I Couldn’t Relate To.

“Yep,” she’d reply. “Can you take me this weekend?”

So we’d get in the car and drive the 30-minutes to Detroit and I’d spend just the right amount of time standing beside my mother as she paid her respects before shuffling off to listen to the car radio or paint my nails and wait for them to dry while Mom lingered. She knew I wasn’t going to rush her. I may not have understood, but I wasn’t heartless, either.  So I’d add a second coat of polish if she was taking longer than usual.

I might have wished I was somewhere else. I may have sighed. A lot. But I never rushed her. And I’d talk myself out of feeling guilty for not giving a damn by reminding myself that I couldn’t really be upset about strangers being dead. Because really, that’s what they were, right? Right.

End of discussion.

But now, almost three years after the untimely death of my own father, I wonder if my toddler will be rolling her eyes at me every time I want to make a special trip to the cemetery to pay my respects. We won’t be able to go very often, mind you. He’s buried in Detroit, in the plot right next to my mother’s parents, and a far cry from our home in Arizona.

But there’ll be trips to see family. There’s a moment, each year on his birthday and on the day he passed that we all get melancholy because he’s not here to make us laugh. Or piss us off just so he can make us laugh again.

I wonder if she’ll think I’m crazy for not being able to throw away the last two cans of Miller Lite I found in our recycle bin because I knew they were his. Or if she’ll ever ask me about him and what he was like.

I wonder if she’ll even care.

She won’t remember him, after all. She was only six months old when he died. I was 29.

She won’t know his face. She won’t know his voice. She won’t know the devilish twinkle in his eye or how his ears would turn red when he was trying to pull one over on someone. She won’t know that he didn’t say he loved you. Or that you knew he did, anyway.

I can tell her all of these stories, of course. And she’ll be a good daughter and try to understand. Maybe even empathize. But she won’t really know.

I know this because it wasn’t until the moment my father was pronounced dead, just six months into his 50th year and on my mother’s 49th birthday that I finally understood what my mother had been dealing with all those years that I was pretending to care.

And it wasn’t until that first trip to the cemetery to visit my father’s grave, right next to that of my grandparents, that I knew what it was to stand on the very earth that had swallowed my heart.

But then I have moments where I think maybe Mom was on to something. Maybe I’ll follow her lead and just let my daughter be. There’s no need to force memories upon her that aren’t really hers, after all.

I can’t expect her to feel something for someone she never knew. Or understand the constant ache that’s always there, just under the surface. Or the guilt that comes with living when you know that you just left flowers for someone who’s supposed to still be alive, too.

And because I have my own driver’s license, there’s really no need to force her to tag along when I’m in town and can make a stop at the cemetery with my mother, who’s smarter and stronger than I ever gave her credit for. Because she knew that I didn’t understand and was glad for it. And she was so very devastated when I finally did.

I don’t want my daughter to know what that feels like. So I won’t say anything when she refers to her grandfather as “your dad.”

 

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It’s astounding how similar Santa’s handwriting and tendency for typos are so similar to my own.

 

@aspiringmama cleaning puke out of every nook & cranny of a car seat (after taking the damned thing apart) has got to be one of hell’s circles. #motherhood


Maybe it’s the writer in me. Or maybe I don’t have enough people over three feet tall who call me mama to talk to. In either case, I find it totally normal to have my kid puke up lunch and dinner all over themselves and their car seat in a glorious waterfall of nastiness and while cleaning up the chunks, find myself thinking: “Why yes! This would make for a perfect blog post!”

The Husband thinks I share too much online. But then again, he hasn’t read my book yet, so I’m sure that will be more motivation for my Muse to gossip on the blog whenever that happens. (Wait…what were we talking about again? Me sharing too much? Right…)

The day started with me thinking I wouldn’t have gotten out of bed if I had actually been in the position to make that choice. Being that I don’t, I did. And wished with every passing second that I could hire a babysitter to come hang out just so I could trod back upstairs, bra-less and unkempt, on the way to making my dream come true.

First we had the birthday party I really didn’t want to go to. Mainly because it was an hour away, but also because it meant talking to real live people. In person. And using much more than 140 characters at a time. But I went so Buttercup could socialize and left as soon as dinner was served so we could grab some gluten-free grub on the way home at a steak house.

While we ate, I ended up praying that the blue-cheese ranch dressing Buttercup dipped her tomato into before I could stop her wouldn’t reappear before we got home. I am guessing I didn’t pray hard enough. Or that God is a bit pissed off that I only show up on Easter because I have an excuse to buy a new dress and primp for the event. Because on a mountain on the way back to the desert, exactly half-way between the party and home, Buttercup lost the contents of her belly.

This sucked for a variety of reasons, of course. The main factors being that:

*it took me 30 minutes on a horror-flick worthy stretch of secluded road with no cell-phone service to clean up what I could with

*the five baby wipes I happened to have in a coupon-provided sample pack which in fact

*didn’t really clean up a damned thing because

*there was more puke than cleaning supplies readily available and the majority of it was sitting in a little pool on her carseat and

*I finally said fuck it, kissed my kid, made the sign of the cross, and buckled her up in the backseat like a Big Girl, and drove home 15 miles under the limit, pissing off every driver in line behind me.

After arriving home and tucking her in (with no bath  because she was already asleep on her feet), I had to trudge back out to wrestle the seat out of the van, strip it, and get a toothbrush to de-nastify it.

Did I mention I was making a sandwich and packing The Husband’s lunch cooler while I attended to said nasty?

Ok, so I did.

To you.

I may or may not have forgotten to mention this to The Husband.

Who says I share too much online.

Go figure.

 

Dear New Balance Marketing People,

We need to talk.

It’s about your commercial, my shoes, and that little complex you just gave me. Not sure what I’m talking about? Let me refresh your memory.

Exhibit A: (Your ad—a.k.a My New Complex)

Before I get into the specifics on where you can send the new shoes to replace Those That I Shall Never Wear Again and I’m a size 9, thank you, let me first congratulate you on a job well done. I am not easily swayed by advertising. Usually. Okay fine. There was that little Barbie phase I went through when I was eight, but I got over that really fast when I realized that playing Barbie at home was a total downer compared to what they made it look like in the ads. I have grown up since then. Mostly. I have a mind of my own and am proud of that. No one tells me what to do or what to like. (And by the way, Swiffer? It’s really time to hire a new marketing team. But you knew that already, didn’t you?)

Then I saw your ad. While I was wearing, well…we won’t talk about my choice in footwear. We can talk about The Husband’s smirk as he saw my face fall. Or his outright laughter when I threw out an “Oh HELL no!” Or the fact that I promptly went upstairs to my closet, threw the complexes I once called shoes into a corner, and dug out my old sneakers for my walk. There’s also The Husband laughing at me when I came back downstairs. And of course, we can talk about me telling The Husband that you and your savvy and saucy little marketing team owes me a pair of shoes.

Because really? You totally do.

Sincerely,

Pauline

 

I almost did it. Really, I did.

I almost bought a pair of Big Girl Panties. But all I could think was that I would feel like I was doing a half-assed blogging job if I left the visual out and am I really going to take photos of my panties? Even just set out prettily on the bed, that would really only serve as a reminder that I am not Kate Gosselin and do not have the means to buy the nip-tucked rockin’ mom bod she’s flashing for the world (and her ex) to see now. What? Me? Jealous? Bitter? What? pfft! I mean, I only had ONE kid and got royally jacked up. But who’s keeping score?

The bottom line is that I’m still deciding on what to actually do to commemorate the actual rejections. But for now, Mama got herself a new pair of Pandora earrings for finishing the book. How’s that for a consolation prize?

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, The Husband already knows…so no need to pretend you have no idea what I am talking about.

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