Thursday, November 16, 2006

Table talk

This family is not fun to be with.

The pilgrims didn't have many chairs, and if there was one, the dad sat in it because he was the head of the house.

We're an abnormal family because you are so involved in your kids' lives.

The pilgrims signed a peace treaty with the Native Americans. That means their team wouldn't fight with the other team.

There are too many people in our family.

The pilgrims were cold and hungry. Half of them died. Half of them didn't.

Can I just live in the basement?

Thus went dinner conversation around the Valentine/Godfrey table for the past couple nights. In less time than it took to prepare the meals, eat them, and clean up afterwards, my kids have pushed me to the brink of insanity with all this talk of pilgrims and teen angst. I can't take any more.

Bella came out of her kindergarten class with a gaggle of other girls, all of them resembling the Flying Nun (remember her?). It took her pathetically slow mother a moment to realize she wasn't wearing one of those nun hats, but a female pilgrim's bonnet. Why didn't I know that? She and Tavi both have obviously been learning about the first Thanksgiving (no turkey served), and they remember every detail of the lesson. Every. single. freakin'. detail. I tuned out when Bella explained that the pilgrims brought over only a little food, some horsetooth (what the????), and some other completely made-up concoction. She lost me at that juncture, and from then on, I heard only bits and pieces. But that was okay, because she REPEATED EVERYTHING at tonight's dinner, for my listening pleasure.

Max cannot stand being around us anymore these days. I figured the day was coming, and I have basically been relegated to the role of cook (his loss), chauffeur, and maid. I don't like this one bit. According to him, I ruined his life by giving him siblings whose sole purpose is to mess with his serenity. What was I thinking? And do I really expect him to take time away from listening to his iPod, playing guitar, and sending text messages to actually talk with me? Didn't he do that long enough...14 years, to be exact? Sigh.

I want to slap him, or at least push him into the wall. I don't do either. And I know as a mom, I'm not supposed to even admit I have thoughts like that. But I do. Fleeting visualizations of minor violence purported against my children don't negate the overwhelming love I have for them. It's just a coping mechanism, and one I've come to rely on when times are, well, challenging.

But for all the frustration I've had lately as a parent, as Thanksgiving approaches and I give serious thought to all that I am thankful for, my kids top the list. They always have; I imagine they always will. In the past almost-11 months, I've made some major strides in my life. I managed to get to a place of comfort and peace regarding the death of my mom and my son. It came when I least expected it, and my life was forever changed. I wrote a 3-volume reference set on American history. It was a major assignment, and one that I was pleased to get, proud to finish. It will be published next month...a major milestone for me. I've written several books, but this was the first with my name on it. I can't wait to hold those books in my hands.

And there were several smaller ah-ha moments for me in 2006. It's been a good year. But when the day is done and I'm lying in bed, reflecting on what the past 24 hours have put in my path, I always return to my family. My kids. They are my motivation, my pride. Sometimes my shame and sadness. They amuse me, confuse me, bring me to my knees in wonder. They are the reason I yell, laugh, cry, worry, celebrate, breathe. They are what makes this life bountiful and breathtaking.

So when Wes and I sit at that chaotic dinner table and wish we were in Mexico, lying on the beach, just the two of us, I feel a glimmer of guilt because I really don't want the kids there in my fantasy. I want an umbrella drink that is so cold it burns my chest when I swallow. Something with an exotic name, that smells like suntan lotion and makes me smile even as the glass freezes itself to the palm of my hand.

But that fantasy is as much a blessing as anything else; it has great value. Maybe one day we'll get back to our beloved Isla Mujeres. In the meantime, we take deep breaths, eat as fast as possible, and try to escape the pilgrims and the angst.

Happy Thanksgiving to you. May you find yourself many ways in which to feel thankful.


vankalen said...

brava miss rebecca!

i swear, sometimes it's like you are inside my head.

"Fleeting visualizations of minor violence purported against my children doesn't negate the overwhelming love I have for them. It's just a coping mechanism"

amen sistah!

Anonymous said...

Good news, Rebecca. Once the teen years and the horrors of high school begin to wind down, something amazing happens to our children. They begin to understand all of our little quirks and our need to mother them and even embarrass them from time to time with our kisses goodbye in front of their friends. They may not always agree with us or our methods. They may even think we are out to ruin their lives, but deep down they do know we do the things we do out of deep love. Once they leave the nest (sometimes sooner) and enter the real world they begin to understand and even begin to use some of the things that once drove them crazy at home. I often sit back and laugh when my daughter gives me the same parenting advice I used on her to use on my son. She is single and has no plans for a family at this time, but it is good to know some of what she once thought she could not live with is now part of her very own belief system. Now, I can just hope my son will one day appreciate my craziness and motherly love and send me a postcard from time to time as I lie on the beach, basking in the sun, drinking foo-foo drinks and listening to the stillness, smiling (and sometimes shedding a tear) as I remember the joys and craziness of being a mother. Happy Thanksgiving!