Snarkeling

Just beneath the surface of normal


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Mommyversary

This is the post about Corinne turning 18 that I’ve been trying to write for an entire year. Technically she doesn’t turn 19 for another eleven hours, so I made it. Barely. It took this long to come to to terms with the transition to being the parent of an adult. The past year saw her graduate from high school, be responsible for translating Mexico for me and vice-versa (“Mom. Stop trying to speak Spanish. Just stop.”), move into dorms, make the Dean’s List, get a driving permit, and plan a trip to Spain this summer. She’s had a remarkable year, and I’m so proud of her.

It’s SO hard, though. Nothing prepares you for the Age of Majority. One day their entire life is your responsibility, and the next they can do whatever they want and in order to access to their confidential information, they have to sign a document giving you explicit permission. Having a relationship with you becomes fully their choice, and it’s remarkably sudden.

When she was born, I used to say that the upside of having a baby at 22 is that I would be “free” at 40 and it would be awesome because I’d get to have my twenties when I had the sense and money to properly enjoy them. I used to think that freedom was something I wanted, because I wasn’t prepared to be a mother when I found myself becoming one. But somewhere along the way she became my dear friend and I stopped being in such a hurry for my friend to go out into the world and make it hers. Now I jump at every chance for even 5 minutes to be helpful, because motherhood is a habit, and it’s almost impossible to kick.

One of the things about being among the first in your social circles to breed is that you end up being the voice of experience, even if that experience is barely a step ahead of theirs and you’re basically making it up as you go along because you had no siblings & rarely even babysat. Still, the one thing I’ve always been clear about advising is that parenting is one long letting go, pretty much from the moment they depart your body. First you’re kind of happy about it – you can eat a full meal without your stomach getting kicked from the inside, then they sleep through the night, they wean, they play by themselves, they play with other children, they have overnights, they have sports, and you have little moments where you get to rediscover yourself as something other than a mom, and you long for more. Then sometime around adolescence they start filtering themselves, and develop entire lives that you may or may not know much about depending on how acceptable you make it for them to be fully themselves, and they don’t want to connect with you as much and you long for more. Then suddenly you’re packing up their stuff, and it feels like someone else is taking custody of your left leg and you realize that you never want to stop being a mom, and in fact it’s really hard to figure out what to do with yourself now that you’re not momming most of the time. Even if you’ve spent their whole lives preparing for it, one letting go at a time, the longing is still there.

So I’ve had a year to grieve, and to adjust. I sometimes forget how much I miss her, until we drive 75 minutes to her campus just to have dinner, and for a couple of hours I feel right again. She just left from being here for Spring Break, and it was particularly hard because I knew that I wasn’t going to see her on her birthday for the first time ever. It’s hard to explain the simultaneous sadness and joy of having an adult child (and can I just say that I hate that term? But not as much as kid-ult, so until I find a better word, it’s going to have to suffice) to anyone who hasn’t experienced it. Just like it’s sort of impossible to explain what it’s like to have boobs no matter how hard we might try.

I guess as tropey as it is, what I’m saying is that they really do grow up unbelievably quickly. Please know that in what ever way your kid is driving you nuts right now, you will miss it terribly one day. It always feels in the moment like you’re going to suffer like this forever, but things change before you can blink. It feels like yesterday that I sat in the park on her first day of Kindergarten, crying because my baby wasn’t a baby any more – which seems sort of silly now because five is pretty damn little, but at the time I wasn’t ready for her to already be on to school age and I was sort of amazed that my toddler had vanished in the night and been replaced by an honest-to-goodness little girl. Now she’s an honest-to-goodness woman, about to go spend two months on another continent.

The good news is that you never stop enjoying watching them grow and change. And she will always be the only person who once knew my body as the whole universe.

 

 

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My Sheepish Re-Return to Blogging. Again.

I know. I know. It’s been months.

It’s been a rough winter. I mean, it was disturbingly mild as winters go, but it was definitely a long slow bloody-handed crawl through the dark times anyway. I slept a lot. I got sick a lot. I started writing a blog post about feeling crappy, and then realized that I do that every single February and all I’d really be doing is inventing new metaphors for the same Seasonal Affective Shit-Show I go through every year.

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I thought about weighing in on politics, but frankly I’ve had my fill already and I have nothing to say that people with bigger platforms haven’t already (bless you, Samantha Bee). And suddenly BAM! – it’s been a quarter of a year since I posted.

I’m a terrible blog mom.

One of my birthday resolutions (yes, those are a thing, unlike those frivolous New Year’s resolutions that I refuse to participate in) was that I need to commit to writing every single week, even when I have nothing to write about. And then I got in trouble for Internet-ing at work, and I haven’t been able to find a good time to jump in. But it’s spring break now, so I can’t even fall back on “I’m a student and calculus is hard” (which it actually kind of isn’t, to my utter surprise, but I’m still keeping it on my excuse list).

So, to get you more or less up to date:

1.       Fuck winter. I think we covered that, but it bears repeating. If not winter, then fuck the society that insists that I get up in the dark and come home in the dark and in between spend the day in a soulless job in exchange for dubious societal benefits and marginal insurance coverage that is only good by our hideous national standards. It is stunning the degree to which working in a bureaucracy grinds you down.

2.       Having your adult kid come home to visit is weird because she’s sort of Schrodinger’s Guest. Not in the dead/not-dead way, but in the guest/not-a-guest way. It’s a whole new relationship to negotiate, and I understand my parents better as a result. PSA: your parents miss you like they’ve lost an appendage. They probably express it horribly and come across as needy, or overcompensate to the point of strained aloofness. The intention behind it is love. Connect whenever you can. It’s worth it, and the more time you spend on it, the easier it becomes.

3.       Invisible knapsacks are like Tardises – they’re bigger on the inside and they go every-damn-where. Being white means I get to be weird and vaguely inappropriate, and get away with things my colleagues of color would be criticized for. That’s so unfair. I don’t want that and there’s nothing I can do about it. It makes me sad beyond measure that authenticity is a privilege.

4.       Everywhere I go now, people are artlessly littering their sentences with “fuckin’” the way we peppered our speech with “like” in the 90s. Suddenly “fuck” has lost its luster, which makes me sad because it actually used to mean something. Now I find myself editing it out of my writing, which makes it sort of overly serious. I’m currently taking auditions for other casually aggressive but intimate emphatic words. In other news:

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So. This is 41.

5.       Somehow I thought it would be a good idea to team up with my social psychologist friend to lead a roundtable discussion on Benevolent Sexism next Friday, which means I’m in crash-course mode about the topic.  Benevolent Sexism is sort of the friendly pigeon-holing of women that we receive as a compliment and so unwittingly reinforce unequal gender/power expectations. Chivalry is one example: holding doors, carrying heavy things, placing women on pedestals – generally treating us like idealized children. But so is the idea that women are better nurturers, better empathizers, and can juggle job and family where men don’t have to. So is wearing makeup, shaving our legs, and doing other things to adhere to society’s beauty standards, which value us only if we adhere to them, but not too zealously or we’re stupid and vacuous. I was introduced to the term “self-objectification,” which is where we become overly concerned with how our appearance is being judged. I’m trying to learn this stuff without becoming humorless or militant, which are apparently unacceptable things for a woman to be. Where is the line between being nice and being paternalistic? I’m not sure, but it probably has something to do with the power to choose whether to accept the “niceness” being wholly mine with no strings attached.

 

There’s probably a hundred other things that have happened, but I don’t want to inundate you all at once. Which is good, because I have a backlog now, meaning that I might be able to commit to posting once a week like I want to.

 

Sometimes I might even say something worthwhile.

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Yay, self-deprecating Mad-libs! (continuous verb) existing