Sunday, July 30, 2006

Yet Another Reason Why I'm Nothing Like My Mother

There are some things my mother is very good at. Her grammar is impeccable and she'll happily correct your French whether you want her to or not. She's very good at telling you that you've gained weight or that your hair color is not right or that your outfit makes you look like a whore. She's also very good at keeping her house museum clean.

One thing my mother is not good at is handling bad news. In her strive for perfection, nothing can ever go wrong. This is why I still have a mild anxiety attack every time my phone rings. Because I still worry, at almost 31, that it's my mother calling to ream me out because she's finally found out I got a B in math in grade 7.

When I got laid off around 9/11, the last person to find out in the entire world was my mother. And the only reason she found out is my father, who rarely calls me, happened to call my direct line the day after my ego destruction at the agency, and he was greeted by a voice, which wasn't mine, telling him that I sucked ass and had been chosen as the latest person to be kicked off the island. My father then called me on my cell phone to find out if I was ok, as any parent should do. When he was properly reassured that I was indeed ok, the next words out of his mouth were "you do realize you're going to have to tell your mother, don't you?"

Because he knew that my mother would smell the stench of my defeat on my him and would explode if she knew he found out before her. And so, to save my father from having his spinal cord ripped out through his nose, I was forced to call my mother and break the bad news to her.

When you've been laid off for the first time, and for years your biggest fear was to lose your job, all you want to hear is "that freaking sucks, those dumb asses, don't worry you will totally land on your feet and everything will be ok."

My mother's reaction was "Oh my God! How could you let this happen? Your life is OVER.

None of these made me feel any better about the situation.

On Wednesday morning, Baby Boy was down for his nap when my mother called. When I answered, she was clearly distraught and couldn't even speak because of her level of distraughtness. My first thought was that her father, my grandfather, who is now 85.5 years old had passed away. My heart stopped. But she finally got out my sister's name, my sister who is 8 and a half months pregnant and who has been suffering terribly during the past two months because she's so uncomfortable because her baby is sitting right on some big nerve. When my mother spoke my sister's name, my heart once again stopped. My first thought was that my sister had died somehow, inexplicably. Then my mother finally spoke my sister's baby's name, leading me to think that she was the one who died.

Two minutes after answering the phone and having every horrible situation flash through my head, my mother finally got out that my sister just had another sonogram and they discovered that the baby is missing her left hand.

And because of my mother's inability to cope with bad news, I was actually relieved and almost cried that the baby would be alright.

I spent the next hour convincing my mother that the baby's life was not over and that there were so many worse things that could happen. The entire time, I just wante to run upstairs, wake Baby Boy up and hold him and kiss him and thank God that somehow, miraculously, despite my falling three freaking times during my pregnancy, he's gorgeous and perfect and I don't deserve a single one of the days I've gotten to spend with him.

My sister called me when she got home from the hospital. She was obviously devastated, as every single parent's first reaction to a sonogram or at their baby's birth is to make sure all the fingers and toes are there. She cried and apologized for calling me like this. I told her that as her older sister and a young mom, I couldn't think of anyone else she SHOULD call. We talked for a while and she told me the biggest mistake she made was calling our mother. I asked her how the conversation went and we both ended up laughing hysterically, a clear sign that life would go on and that this was just a blip on the radar of life.

When my sister broke the news to my mom, the remainder of the conversation was my mother repeating over and over again "Oh! How horrible!"

Not exactly the reassuring words a young mother wants to hear.

My sister is probably one of the strongest people I know. A lot of people don't like her, because she's like a cross between a chihuahua and a pittbull. She can run just about anybody over, but she's got a freaking heart of gold. Towards the end of our conversation, she told me that she wasn't going to tell most people about this. The way she saw it, her baby's missing hand didn't define her anymore than the color of her eyes or the size of her nose.

When she said this, I can't think of a moment I've ever been prouder to be her sister. I've been a mother for 20 months now, when you include my pregnancy time, and yet, already, I feel I haven't accomplished one tenth of what my sister has. She freaking rocks and her baby will rock just by association.




Emma in Canada said...

I have spent every pregnancy worrying about the little and big things that could go wrong. Missing a hand, while initally devastating, would I suppose be one of the little things in the grand scheme of things. I do think I would react more like your mum then you or your sister though. It took me a long time to get used to Saoirse's funny little toenails. I admire your sister's attitude alot.

susan said...

In a weird, twisted way - your mother made it so you could react better to your sis's news when you spoke to her. Though - sorry- your mom sucks. I might go to hell for saying so, but when my mom was alive - she sucked too. That is why we are such amazing, splendoriffic moms to spite them! ;) I hope your sis is doing well, I'm thinking happy fluffy bunny thoughts for all of you and especially her sweet baby.