Thursday, May 19, 2011

On Being A Mom

I wrote this a few months ago and didn't post it because I didn't have anywhere to post it. And now I do! See what happens when you do something even though you have nowhere to do it! Nothing really, but still, it seemed like this could have been an opportunity for some sort of lesson to myself. I still think it could be. Sort of. Like, maybe all that Desperate Housewives watching I've been doing will come in handy one day when I'm on Jeopardy and there's a category labeled "Easy and Bree-zy" and I'll be able to question every single answer about Bree Van de Kamp, will get double Jeopardy, will be the all time winner, and will buy all my friends and family vacation homes in the south of France!

It could happen!


While I'm figuring out how to get to meet Alex, here's the post from a few months ago:

Sometimes I'm really Jewish. I mean, not really-really Jewish, my mom is Catholic which makes my brother, sister and I not Jewish at all according to Jewish law (because apparently fathers have nothing to do with the gene pool?) (Oh my god if that were true I wouldn't have this nose, or this bangs issue. My mom has beautiful wavy blonde hair and I got my dad's crazy curly Jew-fro. On the upside I also got his tendency to feel tragic on a whim, which is helpful when you're in art school.) And we were baptized and went to Catholic Sunday school for a bit, I've probably only been in a synagogue like a dozen times, so despite the last name, technically we're only half Jewish.

Buuuuuuuuuut . . . my Bauba always said being a Jew doesn't mean you have to have had a batmitzvah, it means you inflict guilt upon your children and are stingy with money.

Just kidding she didn't say that.

But she was super worried and anxious all the time. Like, ALL THE TIME. She wouldn't use the VCR because she was afraid it was going to suck her in. She wouldn't sit upright in a car, she would lay down in the back because was too afraid the cars were going to come careening into her. Anytime my sister or I took a vacation without our parents, she would call them three times a day to ask if they'd heard from us, and if they hadn't she'd start crying because she was certain it meant we had been robbed, stabbed, and were lying in a distant gutter somewhere mumbling through gurgled blood, "Ba-u-ba. . . heeeeelp."

I could go on and on, but basically she was a worrier. I'm told this is a traditional Jewish Grandma trait, and that not only was I going to be one, but from the time I was about four years old I've been told I already was one.

I worry.

Most of the time needlessly, but try convincing me of that at the time.

Once at a friend's fifth birthday party I gathered all the balloons that the other kids had been holding, and all of the ones out for decoration and held them captive in the corner of the room, while I sobbed, clutching the balloon strings for dear life, because I was afraid if anyone else got near them they would pop and I would be scared.

I was such a joy in my parents life!

I'm sure it's awful for my friends who patiently sit by while I wring a subject to absolute death because my mind is spinning and my stomach is twisted into a knot. They are saints and I don't thank them enough. My mom and my sister have lived with it for thirty years so they are less inclined to be patient. Most of the time Becky just says, "Oh my god you're fine. Stop being crazy and go get me a Dr. Pepper." Because she's tender.

And as I get older I find ways to calm myself. I've found how to be more in control of myself, even though I didn't know I wasn't. I'm able to stop obsessing and worrying before it gets out of control, which is huge progress from my fifteen year old self. I've grown up I guess. A little. Enough that I recognize when I'm being crazy. "No, Amy. Just because you were talking about Mrs. Blah-Blah doesn't mean she magically got connected to your phone call and heard every word you said about her, so stop worrying!"

(I also stopped talking about people. Unless it's really good gossip. Then I let the flood gates open! Because I don't care what you say - yes, I agree it's not good for you to talk about people, but also that's how people communicate, so sometimes when it's necessary you should talk, just don't be mean-spirited. Mean-spirited is bad for you. Sound good? Ok, moving on.)

I'm sounding like I have some crippling anxiety disease. I don't really. I've never needed meds or court ordered therapy or any of that. I can leave my house and I shower everyday, I just mean that I worry more than the average person. Like maybe, five percent more. Not enough that it shows on the outside, but just enough that it gives me the occasional year or two of insomnia. No big deal. Wine helped me through that.

But something recently has happened in my life that has made me simultaneously overjoyed and gut-wrenchingly worried. I'm more than grateful to have the worry though. That's the difference. That's how I'm coping. The happiness outweighs the anxiety (most days) and I've taken hundreds of deep breaths and repeated that to myself over and over again. The worry is nothing. The worry is worth it. The worry won't actually help anything you know that. DON'T worry.

And it's working.

Because I'm a thousand times more happy than I am worried, and that is new. And shocking. And great. And wonderful.

When I can keep it up.

A few days ago my mom found me in a state of un-calm, and tried to talk me through it. When she realized that wasn't going to work she came up and sat in the chair opposite of me, took my hands in her and said, deep from her motherly tie to me, penetrating my insides only the way she can, "Amy. You. Are. Ok. And this - everything is going to be ok." And then she squeezed my hands tighter, tight as she could until she squeezed the tears to a dead halt. And she said, "Now, this is something I know to be true. Repeat after me. . . "

And she made me repeat that something until I believed it. Until I could say it to myself with each inhale and exhale. And she told me to repeat it everyday until I didn't need to repeat it anymore, because it was just what was true.

I'm not going to tell you what it was she said because it was between her and me. It was hers, and then she made it mine. But it was something comforting, and loving, and from my mom, and something probably every mother has ever said in one way or another to their daughter - and it filled my heart to the absolute brim until I couldn't breathe because suddenly I was crying again. But not because I was worried anymore. Because I wasn't. Because my mom was there.

It sounds silly, but my god is it true. I don't ever give my mom enough credit for her ability to solve . . . everything. But she does.

At least to me it seems like she does. And that's enough, you know? Sometimes even if something just seems like it's something, it's enough.

For now.

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