Gigi Goes AWAL

Continued from last week’s post:

https://derelictmom.com/2014/07/26/fair-warning/

Chris and I don’t go out much, but when we do we USED TO ask my parents if they were potentially available to take care of Eva. My parents have for a long time had a busier social life than ours and so usually they are too busy, booked in advance.

Eva of course is my child, and my responsibility and I would never think to ask my parent’s to take care of her full time during the work day, although that is an arrangement that some grandchildren have with their grandparents, as good daycare is not only hard to find but expensive. But Chris, Eva and I are blessed to have Auntie Zoe in our lives making it only necessary to find a baby sitter when we have plans in the evening.

My parents did agree to take care of Eva for three whole days and nights while we were all on vacation in New Hampshire last year, and it was going to be Chris and I’s first chance since she was born to reconnect for a long weekend in New York for the occasion of a friend’s wedding. Two nights before we left Eva was struck with the stomach flu. You can see from this picture her “I am about to get the stomach flu” face. This was not the dreamed of scenario for the first time you leave your child and go on holiday but these things can only happen to a derelict mom.

IMG_0417 copy 2

Luckily it was a 24 hour bug and she had recovered before we left but she had given me a parting gift. We arrived in New York with high hopes, but on the morning of the wedding I woke up with Eva’s stomach flu and spent the next two days in bed missing the wedding and happy only that I could throw up in peace and did not have the audience and responsibility of a toddler. Throw up ruins everything.

A few months after this trip, we decided to ask my parents to babysit again, she was two and other than a few hours here, a few hours there, and those three days in New Hampshire they had never really looked after her. This had transpired for several reasons.

  1. She is their grandchild and not their child so they have no moral or ethical obligation to help out.
  2. They are kind of old.
  3. They have an active social life.
  4. They have two other grandchildren to take care of, quite frequently.
  5. Eva is “difficult.”

In January we decided to begin a date night once a month where Chris and I would go out to dinner and my parents would take care of Eva, all they would have to do is feed, bathe and put her to bed at their house. I went to my writing group at 6pm and Chris came straight from work to meet me for dinner at 8:30pm. We ordered a bottle of red wine, browsed the menu and ordered our meal in toddler free peace. At 9pm the phone rang.

“Hello, how is it going, why are you calling.”

“Not well, have you eaten yet?”

“We just ordered, Why?”

“Eva threw up everywhere and she won’t stop crying.”

“Why did she throw up?”

“Your father fed her three Peppa Pig yogurts.”

“Why?”

“She wouldn’t eat anything else, she wouldn’t eat the avocado, or sweet potato.”

“But did you try the beets, and carrots and sausages I brought over?”

“No, why didn’t she eat the avocado and the sweet potato, because Sadie always eats the avocado and sweet potato.”

“Because mom, Eva’s name is Eva not Sadie and she does not like avocado.”

“Why is she crying?”

“She wouldn’t go to sleep so we left her to cry.”

“Did you read her stories in the bedroom for ten minutes before you put her to bed like I suggested.”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Well Sadie goes right to sleep and she doesn’t need any stories.”

“Eva is not Sadie.”

“When are you coming home?”

“As soon as possible:”

We ate the rest of the meal in complete silence and Eva was still awake when we came home. That was our last date night and the last time my parents attempted to babysit for Eva. Fast forward six months, it was June and I decided to ask them to make one more attempt at having a babysitting relationship with their granddaughter.

“Yes we can babysit, what are you doing?” my father said. He always says yes but my mother has the power of veto.

“We are going out to eat with our neighbors. At a restaurant in town so we were within sprinting distance should Eva throw up or refuse to eat avocado. “

Two days pass and my mother sends me an email from France.

“What time do you have to be at dinner on our babysitting night, you see we have accepted an invitation for a cocktail reception from 5-7pm at the U.S. Consulate and its very important that we attend as they have an important visiting American artist.”

“8pm, so you can still babysit.”

Another two days pass and I get another email from my mother from France,

“I am afraid we will now not be able to babysit at all because the Michael’s will be moving into our apartment that night for a few nights and we will need to cook them dinner, so we cannot have Eva.”

I did not reply as we got the message.

Another two days pass and I get another email from my mother, “We will pay for your babysitter the night you go out.”

I did not reply.

Another two days pass, and I get another message, “We have bought Eva some Peppa Pig books in London.”

When they got home from London, they gave her the books and the other spoils from their trip. It turns out my mother is much better at shopping than babysitting but sometimes these past times over lap. Because they don’t babysit they would have no idea that Eva’s favorite book is “Peppa meets the Queen” and so they bought her another copy, but on occasion you do need more than one of the same thing, kind of like grandparents. So when it came to Auntie Zoe’s summer holiday we called in reinforcements and Eva’s other grandparents agreed to take care of Eva all day for the seven days they were in Bermuda before our joint holiday in New Hampshire leaving me with only seven days to cover before they arrived.

Meanwhile my parents informed me that they were taking down Sadie’s crib in their spare room because she no longer needed a crib as she was sleeping in a big girl bed. It never occurred to them that Eva still sleeps in a crib and might in some alternative universe actually spend the night at their house before she was big enough for a king size bed with Egyptian cotton sheets and an ensuite bathroom.

The problem was not just that Eva was persona non grata at my parent’s house it was also that the grandparents were barely ever home. One such weekend a few weekends ago my husband Chris suggested to my dad that we take out the inflatable run around boat that he had said we could use to boat Eva around in the harbor.

Gigi and Hamma had plans for a friend’s birthday and said they would be back at some point in the afternoon so Chris dusted off the boat but thought twice before hauling it out of the shed for fear that they would not be home in the afternoon to give us a lesson in operation. Sure enough as we were feeding Eva her supper, my mother came staggering through our yard with friends.

“Do you think we could get that boat up and running now?” Chris asked.

“Why do you want to do that?” My mother answered.

“Because Dad has been saying since last summer that we could use it if we wanted to and we wanted to take it for a spin.”

“I don’t know why he told you that, he sold it to Cousin Patrick last week.”

It was just as well Chris hadn’t spent too much time readying the craft.

About thirty minutes later my mother returns.

“What does she want now?” Chris asked.

I shrugged my shoulders and appeared on the other side of the chain link fence.

“Can you give my friend a ride home?”

It was a total role reversal and for a moment I felt like I was living the Disney Movie, Freaky Friday when the mother and daughter switch bodies. My mother, a senior citizen just asked me to drive her drunk friend home.

“Sure!” was of course my answer. I got in the car and obliged. When I returned down the drive way, I came around the corner and there was Cousin Patrick with all the kids loading their boating gear into the family van. They all had mystified looks on their faces, which confused me. I drove past them and at the fork in the road as I was going to turn right to return my mother’s car, there she was, in my way, a bit like road kill but more colorful.

GiGi was swaying underneath the Poinciana tree, with flowers behind her ears and holding a tray of cupcakes each with an American Flag flying from a toothpick. She was waving and she might have been singing. I think she may have lost not only her drunk friend but her mind as well or maybe she was having a flashback to when she was a teenager in the 1960s.

I paused and unrolled the window.

“What are you doing?”

“Waiting for you?”

“I made you some cupcakes.”

“In the last five minutes?”

“They were leftovers from July 4th, we made them for Sadie and Trystan.”

“Thanks.”

At that moment I realized there wasn’t much difference between Gigi and the teenage babysitters we hire for Eva. When Hamma and Gigi got off the boat they seemed shocked to see their house guest who my aunt had picked up from the airport earlier in the afternoon. It was clear they had totally forgot she was coming, kind of like they forgot they had a third grandchild, Eva.

With Auntie Zoe’s holiday imminent, a hung over Gigi questioned me the next day on her departure,

“When is Zoe going away?”

“Next week”

“What day next week?”

“Wednesday the 16th of July”

“What flight is she on?”

“The BA flight at 8pm.”

“Is she working a full day that Wednesday?”

“Yes. “

“When are Shelagh and Duncan coming?”

“The following Tuesday.”

“Okay”

“Why so many questions?”

“Oh no reason.”

A few days later Gigi announces that she will be leaving for New Hampshire on the morning of Thursday the 17th of July and returning on Friday the 25th. A coincidence? I don’t think so.

“Gigi has gone AWAL.” Chris announced.

Meanwhile Eva’s other grandparents arrive. They bring Eva a new pair of Peppa Pig pajamas, which she is proudly wearing when Daddy gets home from work.

“Who gave you those Peppa Pig pajamas Eva?” He asked her.

“Hamma and Gigi” she answered.

“Huh?” He looked at me.

I shook my head.

“It’s classical conditioning, like Pavlov’s dogs.”

“What do you mean?”

“Eva is conditioned to think every gift is from Hamma and Gigi”

“Oh, they buy her things.”

“They are better at shopping than babysitting.”

We spent the evening in the garden drinking wine and playing with Eva.

The phone rang, it was Gigi from New Hampshire.

“What is that noise in the background?

“It’s Eva and her Nana playing the cymbals.”

I looked out the window, and Eva was running around in my orange sarong clanging cymbals and Nana was teaching her a new song.

“Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna…” dancing like Hindu fairies.

I wondered if when Gigi got home if Eva would have shaved her hair into a solitary pigtail and also be wearing Birkenstocks.

“What is that dreadful sound?” my mother asked.

“Its Eva and Nana singing Hare Krishna”

There was dead silence on the line. I figured my mother was reconsidering her last minute trip, and wondering how many Peppa books it would take to get Eva to take the orange robe off. I could hear her eyes roll back in her head.

The evening prayer continued outside after I hung up.

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare Hare Rama

Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

Peace, Love, Freedom, Happiness.

When I took Eva to the bathroom, I saw daddy’s electric shaver and seriously considered for a moment that if I turned Eva into a mini Hare Krishna that GiGi would hold a parenting intervention and thereby become a grandparent at last.

In pursuit, Eva, Nana and I have taken up Bhakti yoga on our holiday in Boston. Hare Krishna! Krishna Krishna!

Yogainpark

Tune in next week for “A Hostile Takeover and Gigi Redeems Herself.”

Xx Derelict Mom

Fair Warning

It is officially the middle of July, its hot, the social calendar is full, it seems I spend most of my free time trying to teach my two year old how to swim so she doesn’t drown if someone leaves the gate open. I gave up exercising when it hit 80 degrees and 99 percent humidity, but some how my day seems more full, and when your days are full the forward planning gets much more complicated. My motto when Eva was a baby, was “wing it” but now that she is two, that plan isn’t really working anymore and I have come to the begrudging realization that I need to be more organized, kind of like my sister who has probably already filled her kids Christmas stockings six months in advance. Part of my disorganization comes from my eternally changing schedule of employment as what I do everyday often changes on a clients whim, an unexpected equipment failure, and other more important people’s schedules which can be tricky with a two year old. Many people are astonished when I say I am not available except between 9 and 5pm, as if there were no such thing as a working mother, or like I grew another head right in front of them.

The phrase “summer holiday” used to bring images to mind of relaxing in a sun lounger reading a stack of books sipping a pina colada, and I know that I did this back when I was a young bronzed teenager before real life hit like a rogue wave in a horizon pool. When I heard the words “summer holiday” for the first time this year back in January it was from Auntie Zoe, Eva’s second mother when she let us know of her plans to take a holiday for two weeks in July, of course I winced dreading Eva’s last day at school but we all need a holiday, especially Zoe. Back in January plans were hatched to go away at the same time on our own summer holiday, therefore minimizing our own work days without daycare for Eva. My plan was elaborate, it was six months in advance and it involved three countries and as many airlines. My plan was to fly Chris’s parents from the UK through Ireland to Boston Massachusetts where they would stay overnight then fly onto Bermuda, after a week in Bermuda, they would fly with us back to Boston, and we would drive up to my parent’s house in New Hampshire for a week. We could enjoy our “summer holiday” with an adult to child ratio of Four to one, which if we couldn’t abandon Eva all together, was the next best thing. The plan was flawless, my mother in law booked their Aer Lingus flights to Boston and I booked our five non refundable sale tickets from Bermuda to Boston and back on delta. I had checked the: plan our summer holiday box in January I was ahead of the game, or so I thought.

About a week later I asked Zoe,

“Zoe I just thought I better double check with you, you are going to be away the first two weeks of August- right?”

“Oh no we changed our plans slightly we are now going away on July 16th and coming back on the first.”

“Oh shit.” I said I booked our tickets to leave on August 1st.

When Chris came home we discussed it.

“Why does it matter you don’t have a job anyway.” At the time a project had fallen through.

“I don’t think I will be unemployed six months from now.” I said ever the optimist.

“Oh really how can you be sure?” Chris said, ever the pessimist.

“Maybe we should see if we can change the plane tickets?”

“Why would we do that and pay more money?” Chris said.

“Because otherwise I will have to take a month off of work between our summer holiday and Zoe’s.”

“You don’t have a job.”

“Okay.” I relented I was not going to win this one.

I started to realize that planning in advance might not only be not my style, it was fraught with its own innate difficulties. There was one innate difficulty that always seemed to crop up in my life, my very own mother. She was especially good at appearing when everything else was going wrong already and deciding that the most important thing at that very moment was that I was in desperate need of a new shower head, or lawn furniture. If I spent $8,000 dollars on a new patio set at Island Trading all my problems would miraculously go away. She also had a knack for ruining plans and she was beginning to rub off on my father.

At some point she decided to bring an important detail to my attention.

“So have you booked your flights for your summer holiday in NH?”

“Yes I told you we booked them a few weeks ago.”

“Did you do it in time for the Delta seat sale I told you about?”

“Yes mom.”

“Are they flexi tickets?”

“No.”

“You might want to call and check or see if you can upgrade them.”

“Why?” I started to get suspicious.

“We just put the house in New Hampshire up for sale, it’s on Sotheby’s Real Estate.”

“What? !!! Mom I just bought five non refundable plane tickets six months from now. What am I going to do?”

“It won’t sell.”

“Why did you put it on the market then?”

“To sell it, eventually.”

“What if it does sell tomorrow?”

“There is usually a period of exchange.”

“Not six months! “

“You will have to make other plans if that happens. It won’t happen.”

“Oh my god, I thought you were going to give us all a year or so warning.”

“This is fair warning.”

As we are about to set off on our holiday next week, my mother was in fact right the house has not yet sold but it could have. It is usually my mother that takes pains to deliberate what might happen, in fact it is one of my mother’s favorite excuses for her least favorite activity, babysitting, which I will explore more fully next week in Part II, GiGi Goes AWAL.

“But Eva might throw up?”

“But Eva might not eat dinner?”

“But Eva might not go to bed.”

“But Eva might not be as good as Sadie and Trystan.”

Xx Derelict Mom

The Witching Hour

wedding day may 31

The word “witch” comes from the Russian word that means, “one who knows,” but all the witches in my family seem to know everything, except when to go home. Therefore having my brother’s wedding at the other end of the island produced many heated discussions about when our taxi was going to be booked to take us home. Eventually the Wicked Witch of the East decided to keep our options open and hire a few staggered through the evening so we could have options. Options were good. Midnight was always a good option for me to call any party to an end, even before I had children, and the hour is thus referred to in modern lore as “the witching hour,” because after the clock strikes twelve witches and evil spirits come out to play and are at their most evil. Midnight was also about the time when my mother had had a few too many vodka flavored potions, and the Wicked Witch of the East would be at her most powerful, but she was under heavy manners to be on her best behavior, after all this was not “her” wedding because of course, the grand affair was being hosted by the other side of the aisle.

When the wedding ceremony ended, the guests filtered out into the garden for cocktail hour, otherwise known as hour from hell for mothers of toddlers. After wedding pictures which always take forever, I spent the rest of the hour trying to dodge conversations while chasing a toddler and trying to stuff her pre packed dinner down her throat. There were highlights of course, like when she threatened to throw her self in the Koi pond because someone said it was a fish pond and she adamantly insisted that toads not fish live in ponds. Of course with two year olds, the word is full of absolutes and not just for toddlers. Meanwhile while my mother was necking absolute vodka and sodas in celebration, Eva, Chris and I started to move toward the wedding tent.

Koi Pond

Finally they rang the bell for the next phase of the evening, the dinner. We found our table number. We were sitting with a bunch of Eastenders including the Gruncles, because if the family is separated for too long we get anxious, so we had all been carefully divided. Chris and I, Gruncle Michael, Gruncle Michael, Oralene and Betty who were practically family because they had worked for the family for so many years (think the witches’ familiars,) and friends Barbara and Bob Lee, and of course Miss Eva. Each table was named after an East End landmark, and ours so fittingly was “The Unfinished Church.” Fitting because we were all unfinished in our way, and some of us were very certainly heathens.

Unfinished Church

Before dinner we saw the Reverend’s bright yellow car screeching out of the narrow driveway, escaping rather than spend another minute with a witch, a witches’ familiar, or a Spurling, and he had probably been seated on the table plan next to my mother. At about the same time, someone at our table popped a champagne bottle. The vicar was gone; the party can begin.

My father was MCing and to begin the evening he introduced the wedding party. As he called each persons name they walked through the party to their seats. After the bridesmaids were seated, they called for “The Flower Boy, Trystan Hocking,” and he walked through the party to his table. I wasn’t sure he would be too happy being called a Flower boy, but never mind.

“And the Flower Girls, Sadie Hocking.”

Sadie ran and somersaulted into the party, which was met with a roar of applause.

“And the smallest flower girl, Eva Worsick.”

And then it happened, the tantrum we were fearing and expecting earlier in the evening began.

Eva started throwing punches and slaps in my direction, then kicks.

“Can you do a somersault like Sadie?”

“No!”

I tried to pick her up but she fought me until Daddy scooped her up and paraded her through the party screaming and kicking in a fitting display of toddlerhood. I was thankful later that she hadn’t taken me up on the suggestion to somersault into the wedding as she wasn’t wearing any underwear, as with her multiple objections to clothing at the beginning of the evening, we had called a truce at underwear and happily forgot she missing a significant part of her apparel. She was only the latest in a long line of women who had “forgotten” to wear underwear. I can remember getting a note sent home from nursery school because I had chosen not to wear any, and then there is my mother who just finds underwear a hassle because getting to the potty is so much quicker without them. I think that might Eva’s thought process as well, they had so much in common.

Girls on the dance floor

After Eva, the smallest flower girl’s uproarious introduction, and the introduction of the now married couple, Mr. and Mrs. Spurling, it was time for the speeches.

My father introduced the Father of the Bride and the Mother of the Bride to start the evening. The Mother of the groom, Wicked Witch of the East actually refrained from giving a speech at the wedding and gave up the spotlight to the Mother of the Bride, otherwise known as the Wicked Witch of the West. The speech drifted from teddy bear picnics to the musical Wicked and at the climax she brought out her brand new broom she had been given, complete with its own parking place outside Danielle and Giles’s Cambridge beaches hotel room. At least my mother had left her broom at home, in Alda’s closet. As the night went on I am sure she contemplated more than once if she should summon Alda to retrieve it.

When it was my brother’s moment to shine he opened with “This is the first time I have been able to speak without being interrupted by my mother, “ a reference which seemed like the same thing- an interruption by my mother. He continued with a tribute to his beautiful bride. During his speech he recounted the first time they met:

“ I first met Danielle at a 4th of July party at Coral Beach Club 13 years ago. I was 18 and she was 15. It was 2001. I was standing at the bar with my mate drinking a black and coke. I said to him, “who’s that girl over there?” he said, that’s Danni Chiappa.” I said “Who? He says,”Danni Chiappa, CHIAPPA, it means butt cheek in Italian.” I said “oh ya, well I like that set of butt cheeks.”

Danielle was going to fit right in with the Spurlings, with a last name like that she probably has a dislike for underwear too.

Lastly the groom introduced his best man, Nick. Everyone looks forward to the best man’s speech as much as every best man dreads it. Nick’s speech was so heavily edited for content that his jokes were about editing the speech with small hints at much more involved stories. He ended with the true and tested quote, “A happy wife means a happy life.” I think my brother has learned more than most in that department after a lifetime of watching my mother and father’s relationship mature.

When my father introduced the cutting of the bride’s cake he asked the Bride and Groom,

“Now who is going to hold the knife? Danni?”

The crowd peeled in laughter. I wondered how many of them were remembering when my mother and father were newlyweds and having their first argument in their first apartment. My father turned his head for one moment, and one of their brand new butcher knives, gifted from a kind relative or member of the wedding party, sailed through the air past his face landing upright sticking up in the linoleum floor. My mother had not been trained in knife wielding, therefore she missed, and now neither of them can recall the argument but they can both recall the knife sticking up from the floor. Knowing my mother she probably threw the knife when she realized the floor was linoleum and not real marble. It is scary to contemplate that the three of us came within a knife’s breath of being born and Danielle would have been a Chiappa forever.

My father’s next one liner summed up his experience of marriage perfectly,

“I was a fool when I married you, I was a fool I didn’t notice.”

And

“She thinks she’s perfect but I don’t always agree.” That was my mother inside and out she was oft heard saying to my father, “There must be some mistake I can’t be wrong.”

I am sure my mother was tutting at her table but I couldn’t see her from where I was sitting because the Gruncle Michael’s hand kept obscuring my view while he kept ordering fresh bottles of wine for our table.

Chris had missed most of the speeches chasing Eva around until two thirteen year old neighbor’s daughters appeared like out of a dream and offered (put up to by their parents) to babysit for Trystan, Sadie and Eva.

“Yes please” was our enthusiastic answer. Chris was able to return to the adult table and enjoy some of the evening until he decided it was Eva’s witching hour.

When Daddy finally collected Eva from our opportune babysitters, she was watching Finding Nemo with one eye propped open, looking like the Bride of Chuckie, with dark circles drooping down over the apple of her cheeks, and drool dripping down her chin whilst maintain a fixated stare at the TV screen. She protested when we collected her, but soon passed out, dress and all on Daddy’s lap, and Betty and Oralene who shared the taxi ride home did not seem to mind if Eva drooled in their respective laps as long as Chris continued to listen to them complain about how they weren’t allowed to make the wedding cake.

What remained of the “Unfinished Church” table continued partying until someone decided the taxi had waited long enough past midnight and that if our coach wasn’t going to turn into a pumpkin or run out of petrol from idling in the parking lot for so long, it was time to leave.

We gathered all the wayward family members and walked through the dark night, but not before Gruncle Michael went back for a roadie bottle of red wine. We did have an hour’s drive and there are traditions to uphold. When we got to the taxis we counted family members and we were missing my father so I was dispatched via hitching a ride in a van to find the missing Patriarch.

Roadie

After locating him, and forcing him to end the party, my brother, the groom, made one last attempt to remain a child forever.

“ You are going home, can I come with you?

“No I don’t think you can come with your parents on your wedding night, Gee.”

“But Danielle doesn’t want to leave, I just want you to drop me off at my hotel.”

“No Giles, you have to wait, not every night but tonight you do.”

So I left, Dad in tow, and Giles became for the first time a West End boy, and ever so much closer to becoming an adult, but as many of us know that only really happens when you have a child of your own.

The next morning there were more weary reprisals of the night before, phone calls made, post mortems had over eggs and bacon and that was only within the gates of Speakers Drive, then we all mustered enough energy to go to the post wedding brunch, the last party in a series of parties that was the wedding to end all weddings. Codfish and bananas and a side of coffee roll topped with bacon bits, you can’t beat a Bermudian spread. On the way home I snoozed in the back of my parents car, meanwhile my sister’s husband had driven home from the brunch and when he made it back to the East end he found that both his wife and two kids had fallen asleep, so rather than disturb them, he left the engine running and fell asleep, himself in the drivers seat with the radio blaring.

An hour and half later when he woke up, the entire neighborhood had tried to get through the shared driveway and had to accomplish forty point turns to negotiate their vehicles past the sleeping family, making them all inevitably wonder if they really were asleep or if they had witnessed the murder suicide of entire family by carbon monoxide poisoning, but no they were members of the Spurling family, they were just hung over from the wedding the night before.

And just because two parties is never enough my mother woke up two days after the wedding and started planning wedding number three in the east end of course. Why you ask? Who is getting married now? No one. She is planning another wedding party to invite all the people they couldn’t fit on the guest list at wedding one and wedding two. It is an eternal cycle, as long as there was still a party to be thrown, she would still have my brother wrapped around the handle of her broom.

Perhaps now that her three children are married, she might feel it is the appropriate occasion to stir the cauldron one last time and pass the broom on to a new Wicked Witch of the East. I am nominating Gruncle Michael, after he ate all the crucifix cookies my sister brought home from a Christening bake sale. But I highly doubt that my mother will allow any one else, certainly not me to determine her witching hour.

Xx Derelict Mom

Michael eating Cross cookie Holy Sacrament

Two Weddings and a Funeral: Wedding Two

Check out the preceding post Wedding One: https://derelictmom.com/2014/07/03/two-weddings-a…-2-wedding-one/

Friday felt like the night after a party rather than the night before a party but the one thing we had to do that day was attend the actual rehearsal at 5pm. I picked Eva and Sadie up early from school and met my sister and we drove up together in caravan. When I got about a quarter of the way to the other end of the island, a little voice came from the back seat.

“Mommy, the wedding is way too far away.” Little did she know we were only a quarter of the way there.

“Yes it is Eva, but we have to go to practice for your Big Flower Girl day.”

“Okay”

Crap I thought, we are only in Devonshire.

A few more miles down the road, the same voice.

“Mommy I need my juice.”

So I pulled over got out of the car for a water break before resuming the journey.

Another mile down the road the same little voice came from the back of the car

“Mommy I feel sick”

“Oh boy.” I thought… and flicked my indicator on.

I pulled into a hotel parking lot, my sister followed me in her car.

“Now what?” Anna Laura asked.

“Eva feels sick”

So we got the girls out of the car to walk around for a bit, when it was time to resume our journey, Sadie hopped in her mother’s car and instead of saying anything at all, Eva just turned around and climbed into Aunty Laura’s car. It was like getting flipped the bird as a mother, my daughter had abandoned me and my fifteen year old car for my sister’s jazzed up new Hyundai.

”She will be fine, “ Anna Laura assured, “I have the fun car”

Sure enough she made it the other half of the way without throwing up or complaining.

An hour plus after our journey began I was reunited with my about to be car sick daughter. Eva ran around the property, trying to find the closest and quickest path to the water. Toddlers have an acute sense of danger and seem to be drawn to it, which is why as a mother it is best not to be tired, or hung-over and we might have been both.

The rehearsal went on for some time, and without the pomp and ceremony of the actual event Eva and Sadie did not ever successfully make it down the garden aisle amid empty chairs. I had high doubts that when they were filled that they would have the courage to make it down without an adult holding their hands, and me walking down the aisle in a hot pink and orange dress would not only ruin the colour theme but also the whole point. Eva was going to have to make it down the aisle under her own steam. I thought of all the possible scenarios..

What if she has a tantrum?

What if she gets scared and runs backwards down the aisle?

What if she won’t leave me and clings to my leg?

I realized at that moment that there were times in a mother’s life when chocolate was your best friend and not just during PMS. I was going to resort to chocolate bribery, it had to be done, on the wedding day I would be armed with a Cadbury’s twirl.

As most mother’s know a twenty minute window of time can either make your day or the lack of it can break your day, so the hour plus to travel to the wedding was a recipe for disaster, as well as the fact that I had to pack for every two year old eventuality and there were so many, the mind boggled. I brought a full dinner and extra in case she pukes. I brought an extra dress and pajamas in case she puked, I brought wipes, a stroller for her sleep in, a blanket, her bunny, books, a hair brush, five juice boxes, milk etc etc. I bathed her before her nap, and stuffed her, Daddy and my suitcase of supplies in the back of a taxi.

“Wait, “ I said as the taxi started to roll out of the driveway. “I forgot something,” I ran inside for my iphone and a fresh set of clothes- for me, in case Eva threw up. I hung her bridesmaid’s dress on the hanging rack in the back of the taxi- no way would she be wearing that until we got to the other end of the island.

“Why do you have so much stuff?” Chris asked with the air of inneccessity.

“In case Eva, Throws up!” I yell back at him rolling my eyes, wondering what he would do if she puked all over him because I had not brought him an extra suit, but men had a more laissez faire attitude to eventualities, that is until they eventually happen.

“Wait,” I yell again.. and run back in the house and grab my concealer.

“What is that for?” Chris asks.

“Have you seen your daughter?” I say pointing at Eva.

“She went down for her nap and woke up with a spot above her lip. We will need to cover it up.”

As I dabbed my finger in the makeup and Eva fought back as I came near her with my finger. I suppose at two, the point of makeup is not subtlety or concealment it is drama.

“What is that?” Chris asked going in for a better look at the blistering spot above her lip.

“I fear that it is the tropical disease otherwise known by its clinical name: impetigo.”

There was a gasp from the back seat.

“An impetigo beauty spot .” I said, thinking we could just get away with it. I figured it was too good to be true to imagine that my daughter might actually be healthy on the day of her uncle’s wedding.

My own uncles, and my parents had taken “child free” taxis to the wedding, while we had to pile in three kids, four adults, two strollers and masses of supplies into our “child taxi.” By the time we pulled out of my sister’s driveway with everyone and everything stowed away for the hour journey, I was pretty sure the only thing I had actually forgotten was to shave my legs.

A few minutes in Jake, my sister’s husband decided we actually had forgotten something and so we pulled into the Collector’s Hill gas station and he emerged with a six pack of beer and a four pack of Barefoot white wine minis, which is the housewife version of pulling over for a forty. I think he thought we needed to lighten up the reality of being trapped in a cube minivan taxi with three children for over an hour and there was the Spurling family tradition of the roadie, that had to be honoured on long trips away from the east end homestead.

By the time we arrived at the wedding there were two white wine mini’s left over so we hid them in the bottom of my sister’s stroller, which Anna Laura pushed, rattling with the unmistakable clink of wine bottle against wine bottle usually only noticeable on recycling day on Speaker’s drive. Anna Laura pushed the stroller, like a Trojan horse inside Danielle’s father’s house where the wedding party was dressing. Anna Laura looked innocent but that belied a far more conniving personality and I was sure that two white wine minis weren’t the only contraband she had ever smuggled in her stroller.

Eva did not adjust well to being out of the safety and comfort of her parish so she ran around the grounds in her pajamas screaming, hitting her mother, and being tamed only by the strong arm of her father while refusing point blank to ever wear her flower girl dress, the same dress which she had been begging to wear for the last month while it hung on the back of her door.

While my mother stabbed the groomsmen with boutonnières, the guests began to flood in and Eva was still in her pajamas. Eventually Chris, who had been designated an usher and was neglecting his duties, whipped her Hello Kitty pajamas off and her white tulle dress on and handed her to me in a screaming writhing ball and disappeared at my request to usher people to their seats, while my two year old prima donna tried her best to hold up the wedding. Soon after Daddy disappeared Eva seemed to flip a switch and agreed to have her hair done in pigtails, agreed to wear her wedding shoes and even smiled for the camera. It was then I realized the bullet we had dodged, for the forty five minutes we had been there she had been suffering not only from the onset of impetigo but recovering from car sickness. If we had driven to Dockyard we could have all been covered in vomit. There was much to celebrate.

The Reverend came over to Anna Laura and I to say hello to the little girls and make small talk before the wedding started. I yawned and my sister asked me winking in front of the Reverend,

“Would you like a glass of water?”

“Yes please, I am parched” I winked back.

She reached into the back of her stroller and as if hunting around for a clean diaper, wipe or snack bar she carefully unscrewed a white wine mini and poured us each a glass in a plastic cup.

“Thank you” I said, receiving the offering as if it was Dom Perignon in an overrated Miami nightclub.

We were finally ready for the main event.

Where there was wine for grownups there was chocolate for toddlers, so before the wedding started I slipped Hamma a piece of Cadbury’s twirl and he waited with it in his top pocket just below the boutonnière, encouraging Eva down the aisle with its sweet temptation but with toddlers there is no guarantee.

When it was their cue, my sister and I lead Trystan, Anna Laura’s six year old son, Sadie and Eva to the back of the aisle. Trystan took the little girls’ hands, and Eva tried to swat me with her flower girl basket and whined in protest,

“I want my mommy to hold my hand.” I might have celebrated that on a normal day but it was the beginning of disaster until Anna Laura stepped in, grabbed Eva’s hand and told me to go, as I backed up she did as Aunty Laura said and grabbed Trystan’s hand and marched down the aisle with thoughts of the Cadbury twirl waiting for her at the end. Anna Laura and I ran around the back of the house, and missed the whole thing but evidently they made it down the aisle, pigtails intact. I doubt adults are too different from Kids, and I wondered if it wasn’t chocolate and an older man that tempted Danielle down the aisle with my brother.

Xx Derelict Mom

Stay tuned for next week to find out what happened at the reception:  The Witching Hour.

She made it down the aisle

She made it down the aisle

Two Weddings and a Funeral: Part 2: Wedding One

When the week of the family wedding arrived there was a sense of anticipation palpable in everyone except the two year olds who had no idea that they were expected to preform in the wedding by walking down the aisle, pretending to be the cute well behaved children they were not, throwing flower petals instead of tantrums and smiling on cue. What Eva and her cousin Sadie had planned for the day was unknown. Their parents knew that the success of the entire week of events would somehow depend on a precise series of events being adhered to, and if any of them went wrong, it could spell a total and mounting disaster, late bedtimes, missed meals, and then there is always throw up. Throw up ruins everything.

The wedding events began with a party at my mother’s house, of course. Proper Etiquette requires the Groom’s parents to throw the rehearsal dinner, but for my mother there was no such thing as a rehearsal it was HER wedding. She had already had several rehearsals (daughter number 1 and daughter number 2: and daughter number 2’s wedding 1 and wedding 2, to the same man- just to clarify.) So just in case you are counting: with child number 3, it was going to be wedding number 4 and she was going to out due herself, or me as it would turn out.

There were weeks of ruminations over the menu and the guest list, my mother enlisted all of our opinions and could still not make a decision. My opinion was void when I suggested a gluten free/ dairy free menu. What no fried chicken? My mother had passed her love of fried chicken- I think there is a gene- to my brother, but somehow they compromised on fish and chips. It was close but slightly more sophisticated. My mother liked to pretend she was sophisticated, my brother, sister and I went along with it, rolling our eyes behind her back. Once when she invited the Governor over for “luncheon” she introduced her housekeeper Alda, who on the day she made dress in a white top and black pants, and said she had been in her employ for twenty one years. My mother was bragging, and Alda still doesn’t speak English so their relationship works out quite well. But then on another day she cut out an employment ad placed by an older couple in her circle of friends, and was laughing that they were advertising for a driver and butler who would be in charge of “Marketing” which meant she told me, going to the grocery store, not marketing as in my sister’s career; my mother rolled her eyes. I suppose sophistication is relative.

Speaking of relatives, I rue the day I ever spent weeks in past less busy decades crafting slideshows for relative’s birthdays, weddings and anniversaries. After giving birth to Eva, I decided I would retire from this pastime and would no longer be available. And then my brother had to go and get engaged. I agreed to come out of retirement for this special event, as long as everyone in the family would keep it a secret so in the event that I did not have a chance to complete it no one particularly my brother, would be left disappointed. You have to keep your cards close to your chest when you are a parent because time seems to evaporate in increments of bedtime stories, swimming lessons and the aforementioned tantrums. As much as I try and plan ahead it never works out, inevitably I ask my parents to babysit and my sister has beat me to it from now through 2016. So in November, in a rare moment of peace I decided to start collecting pictures, and over the next several months I was able to sort, select, meet with and scan about 500 pictures from Danielle’s family and my family to aggregate a collection of childhood through adulthood pictures of both Danni and Gee and begin figuring out what themes would appear in the slideshow. I was careful not to give away what I had planned in case I would not be able to deliver, but my mother would take care of any kind of dalliance, doubt in my ability, or scheduling conflict by at some point around Christmas spilling the beans to my brother that I was creating one of my slideshows. I sighed and knew there was no way out. You would have thought being under employed for several months would have given me ample opportunity, instead I was applying for jobs, launching a fundraising campaign etc etc. in order to be able to pay for the necessities of life as you do and the slideshow got a sideline.

In the blink of an eye, and what seemed like only a few diaper trash empties later, it was May 1st, four weeks before the wedding. If I didn’t start now I would never finish. So I started by putting 500 photos in chronological order, that Xd a day off the calendar. As the days continued I was struck with the most obvious inspiration, I would craft the slideshow interspaced with clips from one the best films of all time, The Wizard of Oz. My husband constantly quotes from the film, and it is in our DVD library and evidently every kid growing up in the UK watched it every Christmas Day. Oh the Brit’s are so inspired. Now it was my turn.

I used this apt clip in my slideshow from the Wizard of Oz

The similarities were just too funny to not include. The raven haired Danielle is a fan of Cairn terriers, and she grew up with her parents at the West end of the island and her husband to be, my brother Giles grew up on the East End of the island, and of course there is a historic rivalry between the East end crew and the West End crew, which they were defying with their marriage. But really the 20 mile spread between homesteads just made their dating life inconvenient in the beginning and the wedding events difficult in the end. Therefore my mother decided to throw the rehearsal dinner on the Thursday night before a Saturday night wedding, to let all the weary travelers have a rest day in between events. She also wanted to make sure her party didn’t suffer from anyone deciding to save themselves and their energies for the wedding night and that none of the guests on her side of the family would miss the five o’clock wedding because of a hangover.

I was still editing the slideshow when the men came with the tent, but luckily I was exporting it by the time they left. My husband had vetted it the night before and by the time I burned the DVD the caterers were arriving to set up the food stations, but the censorship authority was still open with Judge GiGi presiding. So she took out thirty minutes of her dressing time to watch the slideshow. At the end she was a good sport and her only comment was “It sounds like Derelict Mom.” “Who Me?” I said. I was a bit nervous about the reception at the actual event because although my mother had grown to accept and expect that I was going to call her “The Wicked Witch of the East,” I wasn’t sure my brother’s mother in law would be okay with her new nickname, “Wicked Witch of the West.” But I couldn’t resist and if I was going to spend three weeks crafting a thirty minute slideshow it was going to be funny.

After an extended cocktail hour, the guests watched the slideshow and laughed and enjoyed the pictorial walk down memory lane and no one seemed to hold it against me. Relief hit with a wave of fish and chips and red wine. As I was eating my dinner the speeches began, now it was everyone’s chance for a tribute. Maybe I had taken all the jokes, but there were more tears than there was laughter. My mother although not allotted a speech, took to the microphone anyway.

“Good Evening Ladies and Gentleman” She began.

My dad yelled from the crowd “Do you want your pitch fork or your axe?”

“I want everyone to know that I posed for those pictures in the slideshow.”

“There is a saying,” she continued, “that goes your son is your son until he marries his wife, but your daughter is your daughter for the rest of your life.”

“I know this to be true as I have two daughters, and have yet been able to get rid of them, but we are happy to have Danni in our family and we have grown to love her as our own daughter already over the years.”

This was my mothers attempt to be soppy.

And then just because my mother cannot help her self from indulging in an inappropriate confession, she added

“When Danielle first met Giles she couldn’t have been more than 15 and she got off of the boat one day after hanging out with Giles and some friends, and it was late and she insisted she had to return to her home in Somerset, but I insisted that she stay the night….. but of course I didn’t mean in Giles’s room. But I wasn’t trying to match make or anything.”

At this point, I was thinking I should have set up Danielle as Little Red Riding hood in my slideshow and my mother as the Big Bad Wolf.

She was always trying to be the “cool” mom by the time my brother was a teenager, she always said what she got up to when she was young was far worse than anything we could imagine. I never believed her until recently- but that’s a story for another blog.

And then, not to be outdone, my sister gave a speech comparing her experience of running the NY marathon with my brother to the marathon of marriage. A few minutes before she asked me into mom’s computer room and asked me to vet her speech which she said she had just typed up that very instant, but when she read it, it felt like perfectly timed advertising copy. She was in the business.

“Marriage is like a marathon.”

“I am only at mile five, but I know that there are uphills and downhills, struggle, and balance, compromise, sacrifice, joy and camaraderie.”

Then her husband yelled, “and smelly feet.”

Instead of mile five, I thought, child number 2, was probably a more fitting marker to marriage and the uphill climbs, but it wasn’t my speech.

“It is not the finish line, it is the journey,” she continued striking the perfect balance between tears and composure.

“The people here around you are your water stops and your medical tents.”

At that point her husband looked like he was downing his entire glass of wine, just to get through her speech.

Afterwards, she wiped away her tears and hugged the bride and groom.

Then it was Christine’s turn, the mother of the bride. She kept it short,

“I think I am having a good time, I have been called a witch, the only problem I have so far is there wasn’t a sign to tell me where to park my broom.”

Then one of the bridesmaid’s got up, and started to cry before she could speak. She made one very salient point though, about marriage, which bears repeating,

“There is a saying that the most important things in any marriage, is one, a sense of humor and two a short memory.”

I would also add that these two qualities also come in handy within a family, especially when a family member has a blog called Derelict Mom.

After dinner the core group of hangers on, that would be myself, my husband, my sister and her husband, my brother’s groomsman and his wife who live on an island in the harbor and my parents settled in on the porch for a night cap and for some a cigar. It had been a successful evening therefore everyone had to celebrate until 1:30am on a school night. Luckily I disappeared in the vanishing act of an early bedtime (by Spurling standards) by midnight. For the rest of them, the only thing that vanished was groomsman Jeremy’s pack of cigarettes because my mother and sister chain smoked them all. At least my mother had given up bumming weed off my brother’s friends after he turned 21. The next morning it wasn’t the toddlers who looked like they were going to be sick, but the adults when they counted the cigarette butts and empty wine bottles. That Friday felt like the night after a party rather than the night before a party but there was one responsibility we had to adhere to that day, and that was to attend the actual rehearsal at 5pm, at the other end of the island.

 

Tune in next week for Two Weddings and a Funeral: Part III: Wedding Two

Two Weddings and a Funeral: Part 1: The funeral.

The auspicious arrival of wedding fever was set to kick off at a preparty at my brother’s god mother’s house for lunch on May 25th a week before the wedding. In the Spurling family there was always a pre-party but in this case it turned out to be more of a wake. Sudden death, like overtime in a football match, is certainly something derelict mom thinks is an apt description for the last week of a single man’s life, but on this day it was as tragic as it was symbolic.

The Saturday morning started off like most of the others, up with Eva, breakfast and a pint of coffee for mommy dearest. When Chris stirred I went in to see if he had had a pleasant morning.

“How was your sleep in?”

“I have been counting, Babe has barked 56 times.”

“Babe is a morning person, we are not.”

“Fifty – Seven” was Chris’s only reply as he pulled the pillow over his head.

Eva and I wandered next door to see Hamma and Gigi. We played with Babe so she wouldn’t bark, and then Anna Laura and Sadie showed up to go swimming. I declined an invitation to join in because I had already decided to bake a paleo dairy free gluten free apple pie. I am a baking geek I know and so when they all descended on our little beach I retreated to the kitchen to whip up my dessert. Chris took Eva to join in on the fun, and soon most of the family was in the water, it was in fact a Bermudian tradition as the beginning of summer is celebrated on May 24th Bermuda day. Out came the noodles, the floaties, out came the rubber rafts, out came the kayaks and the swimming implements got bigger and bigger as each kid tried to out do a grandparent, while Anna Laura and Chris tried to make sure no one drowned, a kid or a grandparent. And then Piccolo my little dachshund got in the mix, barking and running his little roly poly body up and down the stairs, dreadfully worried about all his humans and their dangerous obsession with bathing in the sea.

“I am worried about his heart,” my mom said watching Piccolo run up and down keeping up with Babe, the Doberman who had a bit of an advantage.

“Whose heart?” Said Chris

“Piccolo, he shouldn’t be doing so much vigorous exercise with all that excess weight.”

“The vet said he should exercise.”

‘The Doctor said I should too.”

“Time to abandon the floatie.” Chris pointed to the teddy bear floatie mom had appropriated off of Eva who was crying.

“She should really have water wings.”

“Maybe, if you can convince her to wear them, she goes everywhere naked.”

My mother decided it was time to show off, so she broke out all of Babe’s water toys, which just drove Piccolo even more crazy. Meanwhile to appease my mother, Chris put Sadie and Eva in a kayak and was floating them around like twin Queens of Sheba.

My mother threw a Frisbee, it narrowly missed Chris’s head but I am sure if it had hit him she would have said it was an accident.

Babe bounded after it, effortlessly and with much enthusiasm. Babe and my mother’s game of water fetch was her favourite thing to do in the world, and here we were finally the first day of summer and Babe was loving it.

At some point Chris made the parental judgment that Eva was waterlogged, when her knees began to look like raisins and he brought the kayak back into the beach, wrapped her in a towel and told her it was time for lunch and left about ten minutes after Sadie and Anna Laura had left to shower and change next door for the party.

When Chris came into the kitchen, I looked at him and asked,

“What’s all that barking, why is Piccolo barking like that?”

I said unfamiliar with the regularly occurring summer cacophonies as I tried desperately to hang on to the vestiges of our mild winters, hence the baking of an apple pie.

“Oh your mom is throwing toys for Babe.”

“Oh, of course.” I answered and resumed the finishing touches on my culinary masterpiece.

“Where is dad?”

“He went out for a kayak.” Chris replied.

Chris rinsed Eva off and was watching a cartoon with her when about ten minutes later I brought her some lunch. I could still hear Piccolo barking.

“That’s weird,” I said to Chris.

“What?” Chris answered.

“Piccolo is still barking.”

“There is nothing weird about that, I assure you.”

“Yes there is, I said.”

“Look”

I pointed to the clock.

“My mother can’t possibly be still on the beach, she needs at least thirty minutes to put her face on.”

“Her face?”

“You know, her makeup.”

“Oh.”

“And listen..” I said.

“He has probably gotten stuck trying to climb a palm tree again. Let me go out and see.”

Meanwhile I had no idea what had been transpiring on the beach because I was elbow deep in almond flour egg batter and coconut stewed apples. As I wandered out of the garden toward the beach I dodged, chewed Frisbees, dog toys, sticks, and children’s floaties, discarded swimsuits and partially deflated water wings missing their pair. As I rounded the stairs I located Piccolo barking on top of a kayak at Babe who lay in the sand, understandably exhausted from all her running about.

“Mom?”

“Dad?”

I figured Mom had left to get dressed as she often will leave Babe on the beach, who eventually gets bored and comes home. And I figured Dad had done the same, and left his kayak pulled up on the beach.

I took another look at Babe from the top of the stairs.

“Babe, Babe!”

No answer.

Piccolo kept right on barking.

“Oh god, Oh no.”

I noticed she wasn’t looking at me, and then I surveyed the scene, instantaneously remembering my CPR training from age 14. It was at that moment I observed a large bowel movement next to her in the sand.

I ran down the stairs and put my hand on Babe, and tried to move her head. I stroked her fur, and all that came to me was “Oh Babe.” And I patted her again.

I stood up, picked up Piccolo and told him.

“Babe is dead, she had a heart attack on the beach.”

Piccolo was very upset. I ran up the stairs with him in my arms and brought him inside to Chris and whispered so Eva would not hear.

“Babe had a heart attack on the beach and she is dead, look after Piccolo and I will find my parents.”

He nodded, and I locked Piccolo in the living room with Eva and Chris and sprinted next door.

Babe was really my mother’s dog, she was home the most, fed, bathed and walked her, and they had a mother daughter bond, that she didn’t really have with her biological children. So naturally, I ran yelling to my parent’s house looking for my mother,

“Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom where are you! “

Out of breath I checked the shower, she wasn’t there, finally she emerged from the back with Anna Laura, Sadie and a pair of scissors, they had been half way through cutting Sadie’s hair.

Out of breath and high on adrenalin, I started half yelling half breathing.

“Mom, you have to sit down right now, I have bad news to tell you.”

She looked terrified and sat down, my sister then came rushing out.

“Oh good, you are still here, you sit down too, I said to them.”

They looked ashen.

“On the beach,” I said, “Piccolo was panic barking on the kayak. I ran out to see what had happened and…”

“Oh my god “ my mother said, swooning with her hand over her eyes.

“Babe is dead, she had a heart attack on the beach.”

“Oh, is that it?” Mom looked relieved.

“What!!! Babe Died” I said.

“Oh Phew” my sister said.

“What do you mean, phew?” I said about to pass out from the sprint I had made in record time.

“Babe is dead.” I said again.

“We thought you were going to say your father.” Anna Laura said.

“Does anyone know where your father is?” mom asked

“No, I said- I came yelling and I didn’t see him anywhere.”

“He went out on a kayak.” Anna Laura said.

“The kayak is on the beach, he must be back somewhere?”

“Let’s go see Babe,” My mother finally mustered.

“What shall we do with her?” I said pointing to Sadie who looked like she was about to burst into tears.

“We should bring her so that she learns.” Anna Laura said.

“Okay, I will get Eva too but we all need to remain calm.” I said even though I had unintentionally let everyone believe that Dad had had a heart attack on the beach by accident.

We reconvened on the beach around Babe’s body. Myself, Eva, Chris, Anna Laura and Sadie.

Mom bent over and tried to feel for a pulse.

“Mom, I already did that, she is gone.”

“Shall we do CPR?” Mom said

“No mom, she has been gone about ten minutes, there is no point, it was a massive coronary.”

Just then we noticed something on the horizon. My father, paddling back to shore.

Like all dreadful moments, when you can see something has happened but you can’t tell what, Dad thought something had happened to one of the kids but upon counting heads, he realized he was only missing a fury one.

“We can’t just leave her here.” Mom said.

Chris volunteered to get a wheelbarrow while we filled my dad in on what had transpired.

“How many valiums did you give her last night in the thunder storm?” I asked.

“Three.” Mom said. “And she had her pee pill this morning and her eye drops.”

“Too many medications.” I said

“She only has half as many as me” Mom replied.

“Did you give her your pee pill by accident, that would probably kill a horse” I said.

She ignored me and instinctively, like you do after you put your child to sleep, started collecting Babe’s toys which lay scattered on the beach, a testament to her last happy moments doing what she loved. She took the Frisbee and fired it in the air trying to make the garden but it got my dad right in the face.

“Jane!!!!’ Somehow the trauma of the moment had made my mother a perfect shot.

The drama of the moment had everyone else scurrying about.

“Jane, we need an old sheet or something to lift the body in.”

My mother left and returned a few minutes later with my father’s limited edition St. David’s landmarks, hand-woven furniture throw, a collectors edition item from the American Indian descendants of the Pequot tribe.

“You can’t use that to wrap her body in” My father yelled.

“Why not?” my mother asked, always ready to throw his historical interests under the bus, or in this case the dead body.

“Because,” my father stammered not wishing to say he didn’t want to part with the throw.

In the meantime, Sadie and Eva stood together looking over the sea wall at all the activity. Listening to them talk to each other helped give the moment some levity and inspired this blog post.

“Babe died.” Sadie said to Eva

“Mommy, why did Babe die?” asked Eva pulling on my pant leg.

I crouched down between them.

“Because she did a poo.” Sadie pointed at the poo.

“No, Babe died because it was time for her to go to heaven and become an angel.” I said.

“Poos go in the potty.” Eva pointed down at Babe’s body.

“We are not going to die, Eva, because we do poos on the potty.” Said Sadie.

Hamma and Gigi and Chris moved Babe into the wheel barrow and wheeled her back to their house, outside the gate to the garden where all the pets are buried and where Chris and I got married.

Hamma laid her body on the grass.

“Now we have to clean the sand off of her.” said Gigi.

“What! “ said Hamma, “Why!”

“Because she is covered in sand and she can’t be buried with a sandy face.”

My father sighed and went to fetch the hose.

“In a situations like this, you just do as you are told.” He said.

I thought by situation he meant “marriage” not “death.” I wondered what he would do if he could go back to his “sudden death” week before he married my mother. I know he attempted to delay proceedings but she insisted that they get married before the end of 1969. He waited until December 27th but now it’s been almost 45 years… forty five years of fetching the hose.

My mother affectionately washed off Babe’s body. I wondered if the next step was taxidermy, but then I realized that that was something only I would consider, and my dogs were small enough to fit into a freezer, Babe was not.

Chris stepped in and decided to dig the hole in the garden.

“We had better do it now before rigor mortis sets in.” He returned with a shovel and got to work.

“I’ll call the Jones’s and tell them we will be late.” We were always late but they deserved a warning that we would be arriving even later and with a large risk of spontaneous crying.

Mom was already crying and so Sadie went around and hugged everyone to make them feel better. Whereas Eva just wanted to know,

“Why is Daddy putting Babe in a hole?”

“Because after she died, she needs to be buried and then she will go to heaven to become an angel.” I replied doing my best. I probably could have done better if we had had more warning.

My sister piped up, “But you said you were a heathen on your blog.”

“I am a heathen but I still believe in heaven and angels… and fairies and ghosts.”

“Mommy what’s a heathen.”

“It’s your mommy’s nickname.”

We decided to go to the party and return afterwards to host a proper funeral. Meanwhile my brother arrived at the party and was told by his godparents the terrible news. He was shocked and devastated, devastated that the sister he lost was the one that didn’t talk back, and the one who couldn’t read or write blogs, and for a moment Babe’s passing took emphasis off the event at hand. The rest of us arrived forty five minutes late, the approximate time needed for Chris to dig a hole and the rest of us to argue about it, shower and dress.

And so my brother’s wedding pre-party became Babe’s wake, as the family, the wedding party and the soon to be “outlaws” toasted to her memory. Who doesn’t love a dog, even one that barks fifty seven times at 8am.

Later at the funeral, even Chris wiped away a tear for Babe, for the dog, who would never bark for the fifty eighth time. I played Taps on my laptop and read a poem by Lord Byron.

Epitaph to a Dog: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epitaph_to_a_Dog

It begins:

Near this Spot
 are deposited the Remains of one 
who possessed Beauty without Vanity,
 Strength without Insolence, 
Courage without Ferocity, 
and all the virtues of Man without his Vices.

It ends:

To mark a friend’s remains these stones arise; 
I never knew but one — and here he lies.

A video of the funeral:

http://youtu.be/sy0tU3KxpcU

A week before my brother’s wedding, my mother had lost more than a friend, she had lost her last daughter, her final child, and when my brother was lost to the institution of matrimony, when he and Danielle exchanged vows she would for the first time, have an empty nest. My father was going to have to take Babe’s place in my mother’s affections, by peeing the bed, being spoon fed, stealing roast beef, and tearing up my mother’s decorative pillows, it wasn’t after all, far from believable. A few days later after Hamma was forced to go on my mother’s regular dog walk at Ferry Reach, I found Hamma hiding Babe’s collars and leashes and he tried to give me one of her dog beds, out of fear that my mother would have his initials embroidered on a new cover by LL Bean.

It was clear after the wedding, my mother would need a new focus.

Stay tuned for Two weddings and a funeral part 2.

Here is a note that came back from Eva and Sadie’s nursery the following day as Auntie Zoe had been informed by both girls of Babe’s untimely demise.

Babe died003

Babe was always part of the fun.

Babe was always part of the fun.

A Flask of Gin ( Meet the Fockers Part III)

Three weeks after our bridal shower the day arrived for Bridal Shower number two, hosted by the Bride’s mother, which was the bridal shower I thought would adhere to proper wedding etiquette as all showers I had been to at that point had been hosted by the Mother of the Bride. This one of course was the first I had attended that had been usurped by the Mother in Law of the Bride. I decided to look it up just to be sure, and where else would I go but to my mother’s idol’s website: www.marthastewartliving.com. As it turns out, I was wrong, but my mother was not right either. To Quote directly “ According to tradition, a shower should not be thrown by the bride’s immediate relatives such as her mother, future mother in law or sister since it would appear that they were asking for gifts. The maid of honor usually hosts. “ Well we all got that one wrong, but the gifts had already been bought and accepted so we were all, already offending common proper practice. To Hell with Rules! Bring on the presents, or parcels as it would turn out.

As anticipation mounted for the big Saturday night festivities, the uninvited male members of the family started to tease those of us who had cast our busy social lives aside, our usual Saturday night rendezvous to attend a teetotal dinner come shower, come Moroccan game night. It was exciting for me, as my Saturday nights usually consisted of putting a toddler to bed, cooking dinner and watching TV, the only difference from any other day of the week was that I didn’t have to pack a lunch for the next day, clean up, set my alarm, and I could enjoy a nice glass or more of red wine. Giving up the red wine and getting a toddler free evening and not having to cook dinner seemed like an even trade for me. But for my mother, alas, she would be missing a party somewhere, an invite turned down out of familial duty, a vodka tonic turned down with pure will power. This was not going to be easy for her. She promised she would be on her best behavior, a voluntary contribution tempered by the fact that she had already outdone the mother of the bride with her over the top lavish bridal shower number 1 three weeks before.

See blog posts Meet the Fockers part 1:

https://derelictmom.com/2014/05/23/meet-the-fockers-part-1/

And Meet the Fockers part 2:

https://derelictmom.com/2014/06/06/meet-the-fockers-part-ii/

She had recovered from her party and had convinced us all she was going to put her most gracious foot forward, it turns out on the gas pedal.

“ I will be the designated driver.” She volunteered while batting her eyes and coyly smiling.

“Mom, it’s a teetotal party, we can’t drink too much lemonade.”

“Think of what could happen if your sister drank too many sugary drinks.”

Visions of the game Nazi flashed through my head.

“I’ll drive.” My mother insisted.

This was mom’s attempt at generosity and grace. Then next week she would say it was someone else’s turn to drive home from the raging party, so she could swig a wine with out fear or inhibition.

On the night of the shower, Mom put her best face forward, got decked out in her Moroccan clothes she had purchased on a reluctant trip there several years ago. My Dad giggled as she sighed, without knowing what the girly night ahead of her had in store. Mom was not much of a girly girl, despite the makeup, the walk in closet and hefty credit card bill, she loved to shop, go to the spa, and entertain but if she was invited to a girly trip or a dinner party without men, she would decline. I don’t think she could think of anything worse than spending a weekend with her two daughters and now she was about to get a third one by marriage. Mom only really preformed for men and so an estrogen filled evening untempered by booze was going to be hard. I figured she would be uncharacteristically quiet the entire time. I wasn’t all wrong.

She pulled her car around to the front of the house and honked the horn. Chris kissed me goodbye.

“Before you go, give this to your mom.” He handed me a flask, which he had filled with gin and three cans of Perrier.

“Tell your mom to have a roadie on me.”

This is a reference to two years ago when I climbed into the passenger seat of their car to attend our Easter brunch, and found a discarded roadie- a plastic cocktail glass with red cocktail straw and slice of lime fermenting on the floor mat from the night before. At the time I was still expressing breast milk for Eva and was struck with both jealousy and amazement. To be nearly 70 and still be drinking roadies, ah that’s the life. And to this day I do not know how she convinces my father to drive home from every single event.

When I climbed in, I offered her a gin and soda. She laughed.

“We aren’t really going to drink it are we?” She asked.

“No of course not! Unless you think they will just think it’s mouthwash?”

“No, we better not.”

I put the flask and Perrier cans on the floor of the car, and laid back to enjoy the thirty minute drive to Paget, without worrying about a toddler or stop signs or traffic, that’s the life for a busy mother, thirty minutes of uninterrupted looking out the window.

Then it started, the continual pestering.

“What do you think they will have for dinner?”

“I don’t know, maybe a Moroccan dish!’

“Oh No, I hate Moroccan food.”

“Why do you have to be obsessed by food.”

“I hate Morocco.”

“What do you think she will be wearing?”

“Who?”

and on and on and on.

We picked up my sister and twenty minutes later we finally arrived. We were the first ones there. Rich, Danielle the bride to be’s step dad directed us around the back to secretly park as the party was supposed to be a surprise, but my mother had already blown that too. Maybe on purpose? Maybe by accident?

“Why did you tell Giles?”

“I felt he needed to know?”

“Why?”

“So that he could bring her a little bit late, in case we were late.”

“Mom, that defeats the purpose.”

“I don’t like surprises, and he is just like me, and anyway Danielle doesn’t know.”

“But you know, and I know that if Giles knows he will give it away.”

“As long as he doesn’t bring her on time then it will be okay.”

“Mom we are early. We are never early.”

“Great, it’s just going to be awkward without anyone else around.”

I open the door to exit the car. Mom yells,

“Wait! “

“What?”

“Aren’t you going to cover up the flask?”

“You didn’t cover up your roadie in 2012. No one is going to see it.”

“You never know! “ Mom said.

So we got back in and put the flask on its side underneath the floor matt.

“There no one will ever know.”

“It’s not like we drank it anyway.”

“Yeah but no one would believe you.”

We are ushered into the house through the back door by Christine, the mother of the bride.

“Hi Jane, thanks for coming” Christine says.

My mother grins and without any hesitation responds,

“Christine, are those eyelashes FAKE?”

Christine blinks several times trying to take in my mother’s version of “Hello, How are you.”

“Yes,” she admits blinking vigorously already defeated.

Mom- 1

Mother in Law -0

Anna Laura and I look at each other too bad we weren’t wearing black and white stripes as we may have some refereeing to do tonight. Thank god my mom hadn’t touched the flask, it could be worse.

Next, Christine said,

“What would you like to drink?”

I ushered my first prayer of the evening. “Please mom, don’t say wine, please don’t say wine.”

“Iced Tea.”

PHEW…

The dog barked and I thought, thank god someone else, and so the other women began to arrive, parking behind us in the backyard. Company at last.

And then finally, DING DONG. The doorbell rang. The Bride and Groom arrived, and we all conspicuously hid in the lounge before jumping out and yelling “SURPRISE!”

Danielle’s mouth dropped she feigned surprise. They were perfectly late, I am sure my brother had let it slip but I could not be sure.

Rich ushered Giles out the door as they were taking him to his own special stag party, an AA meeting, and dinner at Specialty Inn. I am sure my long suffering husband would have given up beer to join in but he was babysitting a toddler and a few Coors Lights at the time.

The men disappeared and Christine put her party hat on.

“Let the games begin!”

“Oh no, I hate games I thought.” I would rather watch my ice cube melt.

I had visions of passing life savers on toothpicks and playing pyramid but I would be spared, THOSE games from my youth.

“QUIZ TIME.”

Oh that’s not so bad I thought. Christine began passing out tests and pencils. She was once a teacher, and somehow that doesn’t surprise me. I had a feeling the family was about to gain another game Nazi.

I could hear my mother sharpening her pencil in the background, she was quiet but it might have just been the Iced Tea, or maybe it was her game plan.

“Our first game this evening is Guess the Bride.”

I flipped through the fifty page document of wedding photos where someone had painstakingly cut the faces out of each bride’s picture, and then photocopied masses of copies. I supposed she needed something to do last Saturday, but maybe cutting out famous brides faces gave her some sort of passive aggressive pleasure, I know it probably would for me. Maybe when Dani and Giles are expecting their first born, I will recreate the game with famous new moms, and cut the faces out of the likes of Kim Kardashian, Gwyneth Paltrow, and the rest of those skinny bitches who spend maternity leave in the gym. Ahhh just the thought gives me passive aggressive satisfaction.

I was always good at fantasying and by some miracle I won the guess the bride game, although I have never picked up an issue of BRIDE in my entire life. Full of pride and surprise I accepted my gift of scented bamboo reed diffusers.

“Thanks, just what I wanted, bamboo sticks.”

Cocky and self assured I started the next game, name the movie, the actress and the year of the bride pictured.

“I am really good at this game.” I said.

I was too big for my britches and came in an underperforming second or third. But then I realized I was not much into bride movies anyway, and Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride had been the stumper for me, not that I am running out to see it now or anytime soon.

“That was fun,” I announced.

“Next” Christine stood up to move on proceedings.

I looked over at my mother, she gave me a smug half smile, I looked down at her test sheets, 2 out of 50 and 10 out of 32. I wasn’t sure if she wasn’t trying or she really didn’t know.

“I am too old for this game.” She said with regality.

“Next,” Christine called the class of women to order.

“Next, we are going to play Pass the Parcel.”

All of the women already gathered in a circle looked around at each other with a pretend excitement.

I whispered to mom, “If you are too old for the quiz, then you must be about to be reincarnated for Pass the Parcel.” And I made a sign of the cross like the good catholic I was not.

Christine launched ITunes on her laptop and started the music, we were to pass the parcel until the music stopped. She admitted freely herself that she was attempting to recreate Danielle’s birthday parties when she was growing up, but I am thankful that she did not go as far as to play nursery rhymes. I had no need to relive my childhood as I was living Eva’s right now.

I wondered if Pass the Parcel was a passive aggressive way of pretending her daughter wasn’t really old enough to get married, or maybe she was just desperate for grandchildren. That would be a good thing, as my mother was not, she already had three and was struggling to come up with creative excuses not to babysit. If this was what Christine wanted to do on a Saturday night, then my mom’s future Saturday nights were going to be free to partake in many roadies to come.

As Pass the Parcel progressed the person it stopped on had to unwrap a layer and then could take the lollipop or present that was on that layer, but they would also have to read the poem and do the dare.

The dare, sounded risqué, but the poems certainly were not. As each parcel unwrapper read off their sentimental poem about mothers and daughters, my mother’s lip curled in distaste.

I could read her mind, “Cheesy” she was thinking.

Her secret hope that my brother might be gay so that she could get another son-in-law to outnumber the women in the family was not going to happen, but as long as there weren’t any more sober bridal showers in her future, she might just make it through the night. My sister and I weren’t sure. My mother was in denial, she was marrying off her son, getting a third daughter and god forbid more grandchildren, and now Pass the Parcel. We were all having flashbacks to 1985 or maybe it was just withdrawal symptoms.

Our side of the family had been neglected by the music wizard, but when it stopped on one of Danielle’s bridesmaids and her dare was “Share your most embarrassing moment.” The three of us looked at each other with a sigh of relief that the parcel had not landed gracefully within our grasp, for fear one of us caught off guard would answer honestly. Of course all of those stories probably contain a roadie or two and Pass the Parcel was not really the venue.

By the end of Pass the Parcel we were all worried that Musical Chairs would be next and my mother would end up with her ample derriere wedged on top of a younger, quicker Christine in a chair but it was not time for more games, it was finally time to eat.

My mother and Christine have one similarity they both are amazing hostesses, and Christine had a spread of Moroccan food that was twice as much as all of us could eat, all of us of course except for my mother.

Never reluctant to grab a dinner plate, my mother uncharacteristically hung back, then gave herself several ungenerous portions while Christine introduced each food group,

“ We have roasted butternut squash with cinnamon, Chicken and prunes, and a kale and chickpea salad.”

My mother looked like she was choking on a digestive enzyme as she chewed on a piece of butternut squash wishing it was a roast potato. And Kale, she never touched super foods unless it was a Smirnoff raspberry martini, and she could have used one of those right about now to make up in calories, what she was loosing in appetite.

The rest of us thought it was delicious. As we were finishing up dinner, the boys arrived back. I could sense my mother’s relief for male company. She began picking on my brother within two minutes.

“Why are you wearing that shirt?”

“You need some new clothes for your honeymoon, which reminds me.”

“What mom?” Giles answered.

“I have forgotten to give you, your Trousseau. Do you know what a Trousseau is?”

“No” he said.

People were milling about getting ready to leave.

I was thinking mom would be the first one out the door if it was going to get her home quicker and closer to that raspberry martini, but now that my brother was back she had threshold paralysis.

“Come on mom I said, every one is getting ready to leave,” as the other girls said their thank yous and goodbyes. I was desperate not to be the last ones here in case my mother tried to touch one of Christine’s falsie eyelashes.

My sister and I gathered her bags, and as I put them at her feet, she asked

“Do you know what a Trousseau is?”

“Isn’t it like some sort of hope chest?” was my answer.

“Wrong” she said. I was actually right.

And then proudly like she had won a game of jeopardy after loosing at pass the parcel, announced. “A trousseau is gift of clothing for the honeymoon.”

“Isn’t that for the bride?” I asked. Right again.

“It doesn’t matter, I can give one to the groom if I want.”

“Of course mom can do what ever you want.”

“A Trousseau is a gift of lingerie for the bride to use on the honeymoon.”

“You bought Giles lingerie for his honeymoon?” I had visions of Giles running around Venice Italy in a Chippendales outfit.

“I bought him clothes for his honeymoon.”

“Then stop calling it a Trousseau.” I said.

By this time the family squabble had distracted my sister and I from our mission to leave. My mother would not stop talking so we ended up outside with step dad Rich who was directing traffic exiting the back yard.

“I think I better back your car out of the yard for you because it’s tight getting out.”

He offered.

“Oh that’s nice of you.” I said.

“Or would you like to do it, I can direct you.”

“Oh no, that’s okay you can move the car if that’s easier,” I said, looking forward to a snooze on the way home and not wanting to volunteer to be the driver as mom had already gracious offered to stay sober.

“Oh we don’t have the keys,” I said looking through moms purse.

“I’ll go and get them from her.” Rich said

He came back dangling mothers keys as mom stood in the entry way still talking about Giles’ Trousseau to his mortification.

Anna Laura and I follow Rich around the house to the backyard, as we walked into the lawn area, I suddenly remembered our drive to the party. My stomached turned and it was not the butternut squash, I had remembered, THE FLASK. My first thought was “Thank God mom put it under the floor matt and on the passenger side.” But it was too late, Rich was steps away. As he was turning the key in the door, I thought about yelling something about a shooting star or a meteorite but it was cloudy and he would have thought I was crazy, so I just watched it happen.

Anna Laura climbed into the back seat and I returned to the passenger seat. As I opened the door treading very lightly on the floor matt while getting in, I was hit with a waft of something so pungent it was unmistakable, GIN.

Rich didn’t seem to blink an eye, he got in and turned the key and began backing us out of the yard. My mind was racing… Mom had laid the flask on its side under the floor matt and it had clearly leaked- proof perhaps that we had not in fact consumed the Gin, but would that matter in this situation? I think not. As Rich backed up the Perrier cans started to rattle around, I slipped my foot out of my shoe and tried to contain them as the little car made tight turns backwards and forwards out of their driveway. Finally brilliance struck,

“Smells like Windex” I said.

“Hmmm” Rich said.

“I think he bought it.” I thought.

Rich put the parking break on outside the front door, there was a slight tinkle of aluminum can on titanium flask but I was betting Rich was going deaf. I rattled my bamboo diffuser reeds hoping to mask the sound.

Mom climbed in and as she was driving home we told her about the flask. I fetched it from underneath the floor matt and sure enough it had leaked. I read the engraving on it.

“Awarded to Chris Worsick for outstanding athletic achievement September 1980.”

“They gave him a flask for athletic achievement?”

“It was England in 1980. It probably hasn’t been used since 1982.” I said.

“Shouldn’t have married an older man.”

“You tell Chris, he could have ruined the wedding!”

“No mom, that’s your job.”

“So what’s really in Giles’s trousseau- did you get him a thong too?”

Meanwhile, Anna Laura looked up Trousseau on her blackberry,

“A trousseau is a wine grape also known as Bastardo, it is also a syndrome- a migratory thrombophlebitis.”

“An over mothering syndrome or under grandmothering syndrome.” I said.

“Migratory Thrombophlebitis sounds bad.” Mom said.

“It is bad, you probably get it from drinking too much Gin.”

“Or from playing Pass the Parcel.”

We topped the night off with a night cap when we got home and celebrated what was just a precursor to the main affair. The wedding was only weeks away…..

Stay tuned for the wedding series of blogs: “Two weddings and a funeral.”

Happy Father’s Day

 

I don’t remember the last time I gave my daughter Eva a bath. I can imagine my mother doubling over in agony at the thought but on most days, Eva is sponged, ears cleaned out, hair washed and conditioned and on occasion brushed too but not by me, by Daddy. Sigh…

Daddy also gets her ready for bed, puts her diaper on, convincing her on some days that its okay to wear a princess diaper when she really wants a Minnie Mouse, then he takes on the protracted battle over pajamas, sometimes successfully convincing her to wear something other than her ladybird pajamas she grew out of six months ago, at this I am truly amazed and thankful.

Of course in these blissful moments of father daughter bonding mommy isn’t exactly kicked back with her feet up watching sports and drinking beer, she is usually cooking dinner, preparing lunch for the next day or cleaning up the mess from the day if not week before.

As it’s Father’s Day it seems like the perfect moment to mention that through the last two and a half years of parenthood, my husband has changed, from the parent to be who spent most of my pregnancy bewildered, and the first six months of her life thinking “what have I done,” not that was he alone in that.

Although he won’t admit it at first he didn’t want to be seen pushing a pram, but he evolved when he realized mommy was much too slow going up hill. Daddy and Eva have always had bonding moments, from their pram walks when she used to nap in the mornings, to bath time, and feeding the fishes. Through all of this, Eva’s daddy has struggled to keep his identity and continue the things he loves the best, which include primarily: Sports. In the last two years I have noticed that he has picked up one decidedly female trait. He has learned to multitask.

Take this picture of Eva and Daddy’s evening routine, and the video I posted below of Daddy in Mommy’s home office, watching sports on the TV, watching real time game feeds on the internet and entertaining Eva all at the same time. Ahhh Fatherhood.

Fathers Day

 

 

Given Daddy’s new multitasking skills, it came as relatively no surprise when Eva said the other day, with the determination and curiosity only a two year old could muster, “I want to grab Daddy’s pee pee.” Then she paused and added “Please.”

“No”

“Why?”

“It’s not appropriate.”

“But I said PLEASE.”

“No it’s not right, Daddy’s Pee Pee is HIS pee pee.”

“I will say THANK YOU.”

“No thank you.”

“PLEASE”

“No the answer is just NO.”

“Daddy, did you both have a shower after swimming lessons?”

“Yes.”

“Multi tasking needs a rethink.”

…..

When Eva was fifteen months, my friend Claudia asked me if Eva had started to prefer Daddy yet. I said No, and she warned me that it would happen and I shouldn’t take it personally.

I was probably days away at that point from what would become a full blown Daddy obsession. Daddy goes to work long before Eva wakes up but when he comes home from work she is usually at the gate to meet him. He barely has time to take his motorbike helmet off or put down his keys and she is in his arms.

“Daddy pushes me higher on the swings,” she says.

“Daddy is more fun,” she says.

“Daddy is bigger,” she says as she swipes at me from his shoulders.

On the weekends Daddy likes to wake her up because he misses out on that during the week. When I come into the room Eva says,

“Nooooo” sticks out her lip and says, ”Don’t sit next to me.” And swipes at me again.

Then sometimes when I pick her up she flat out tries to punch me without realizing that that would probably make me drop her on her head. Sometimes I wonder if she is precocious or if all two year olds are like this with their mothers- I am sure I was. I wish I could say Daddy was immune to her ill treatment but I keep remembering the week he went to work with a blood red eye, which looked like he had joined a fight club, but in reality he had only been swatted with Tinkerbelle’s wand for hiding the TV remote.

It’s hard to feel like you are anywhere near competent when your child is offended by your presence. To make matters worse I had noticed recently that my daughter was speaking with a decidedly British accent in stark contrast to my distinct American diction. Let’s just say she hasn’t inherited the mother tongue. Eva’s father is British as is her nursery teacher Zoe which might have something to do with it- that and the obsession with Peppa Pig.

My two year old bites me as hard as she can on the arm and then says, “Pardon me.”

Our situation reminds me of those women who hire nannies who can’t speak proper English and their kids end up speaking some version of heavily accented pidgin English- just my situation was in reverse.

If Eva ever does let me take her out without her Daddy, people will think I am the nanny and not the young hot variety- the aging spinster. No I will insist, I am not the nanny,

“I’m a derelict mom with a very “proper” child.”

I have noticed that some of the things Eva has been saying lately have a common theme,

“Daddies watch sports and mommies watch the news.”

“Mommy doesn’t climb ladders.”

“Mommies don’t go swimming.”

Hmmm maybe I need to work on being more fun?

But like most parents of two year olds I have learned that I must go with the flow, so the other weekend when I came home from my brother’s post wedding brunch, I didn’t bat an eyelid when I discovered Eva and Daddy eating chocolate and watching JAWS. Maybe, just maybe I had discovered his secret.

So last night when I put her to bed, as I do every night she said,

“Mommy, I love you a little bit.”

“Just a little bit?” I asked

“Yes, but I love Daddy a lot.”

“What about your grandfather, Hamma? Do you love him a little or a lot?”

“I love Hamma a lot.”

“ Are you sure you only love mommy just a little bit.”

“Yes”

“I love …. Bunny a lot.”

“What about poor mommy who loves you?”

Silence

“Eva?”

“Yes?”

“Do you want to go to the playground this weekend and Mommy will push you really high on the big girl swings.”

“Yes!!!”

“Then we can come home and have a chocolate after your lunch.”

“Yipee!”

“And if you are a good girl, you can watch some TV.”

“Yeah!!!!”

“Eva?”

“Yes?”

“Are you sure you only love mommy just a little bit?”

“Okay Mommy, I love you a lot.”

“And Mommy loves you and Daddy a lot.”

I turn the light out but as I was leaving, I just couldn’t help myself.

“But we are not watching JAWS again- that crosses the line.”

“Okay mommy.”

********

Happy Father’s Day Daddy.

Xx Derelict Mom & Eva

Meet the Fockers Part II

Continued from Meet the Fockers Part I:http://wp.me/p4b9qN-3q

In the days leading up to our bridal shower for my brother’s bride to be my mother ordered my father to the liquor store to buy wine then she added more food to the menu right at the last minute just in case there wasn’t enough. Truth there was always too much food and wine. My mother was into abundance not scarcity, even if there were hungry and sober for that matter, children in the third world, that was not going to keep her from going overboard and dancing dangerously toward wasteful and indulgent.

Then mom went to work making her famous Iced Tea, one cannot forget the Iced Tea. All of her preparations and rushing around, picking extra flowers, getting Alda, her long suffering housekeeper to polish the silver again and again. All of this over productive possibly counter productive busyness was distracting her from her chief worry. What was really bothering the hostess but that she was afraid to admit was not that the silver would not sparkle but that about half the people that were coming to the shower were teetotal and not only would they have the clarity to notice the smallest tarnish on the family silver they might just notice that the other half of the family were boozers. There wasn’t much of a middle ground, and to make it worse all of the teetotalers weren’t on one side of the family or the other and neither were the boozers. Parties were complicated but the wedding was going to be worse.

My brother, who suffers from paranoia over his mother’s hypothetical behaviors calls up the day before the shower.

“What ever you do mom, don’t say here is the wine and the wine glasses, then point to a jug of Iced Tea and say, here this, this Iced Tea, This is for YOU and point to the teetotaler.”

“I am not going to do that Giles, I have already made signs to put in front of the Iced T, I am going to call it AA Punch.”

“What.”

“Giles it’s a joke.”

“Mom you know I don’t get jokes.”

My mother has a propensity to be lavish. Right before the shower, she pulled out of her suitcase of lingerie. As she was holding up the skimpy bits of – I am not sure you can call it clothing, she said.

“I think I have over done it again. I have bought too many.”

“Perhaps” I say tilting my head wondering how you would wear anything that is called “floss” as clothing. My mother asked,

“Would you like one of these?” she says holding up a pair of thongs.

“To wear to the shower?” I say confused.

“No to keep.”

I pause, go in for a closer look, shake my head at my mother in disbelief, and looking down at myself, at the thong and then at her, I respond.

“Mom, I wear briefs.” I extend the ample tummy control elastic and let it snap back into position with a loud crack like the sound of a horse crop.

“I don’t think so. “

The day of the shower, looking forward to what the day held, I was overly ambitious and decided to wear a dress that was still too tight despite the singular pound I had lost running around the town over the last month. To rectify the bulges in the wrong places I put a sweater on to hide said bulges and to my surprise when I arrived at the gathering my mother seemed content in my choice of outfit. She really must be worried about the party if she can’t bring herself to criticize my choice of dress, my lack of makeup and messy hair, I thought to myself.

Meanwhile the boozers had a head start but the teetotalers caught up, matching each other drink for drink. The libations were flowing when the games got underway. My sister Anna Laura, aka. game Nazi, took over so my mother could enjoy a refreshing glass of Iced… T… Terre di tufi white wine blend, followed by an Iced Tea chaser.

First we had a How Well Do You Know Danielle quiz. The first question was, What is Danielle’s favorite movie. Instead of guessing wildly or putting down a predictably cheesy title like The Notebook, I scribbled in “Meet the Fockers” obviously subsequently inspiring this post. Although I scored a nort on that question I came out on top of her new family members and won a prize. I think it was a cream egg, my sister’s subtle tactic to tempt me out of my feeble attempt to divorce from chocolate. Such feeble attempts were almost always doomed if attempted around Cadbury mini and cream egg season. Oh well

The questions continued:

What is Dani’s favorite colour.

I wrote “Hot Stripper Pink” as a joke.

How did they meet?

Giles was dressed up as a clown for Halloween and Dani was dressed up as Pocahontas and as it is typical of American Indian’s to lack the enzyme that digests alcohol she developed a permanent condition of beer goggles and took home a clown and ended up marrying my brother!

How long have they been together?

I lost count of how many years they have been together but I can count the fights, the midnight phone calls, and brotherly lectures from Chris, they are the notches in the bedpost of any relationship.

When were they engaged?

I remembered this one- The Queen’s Jubilee. Although my brother denies knowing it was the Queen’s Jubilee part of me suspects my mother put him up to it. She was certainly jubilant when Giles got down on one knee and gave Dani, the diamond ring my mother had given him to give her. The same 10,000 dollar diamond my mother had turned her nose up to on Christmas 2003 when my father gave it to her unset in a box, leaving its fate, design, and ultimate owner up to her. She chose various settings, wore it a few times, decided she didn’t like it and put it aside for Giles. A cast off.

But Dani was smart and she took the diamond and made her own beautiful ring, sort of what she is doing to my brother, taking my mother’s tarnished diamond and making it her own. Got to admire a girl’s ingenuity and for that manner her lingerie, and she has plenty of that now.

****

After eating lunch on the patio we went inside to continue the refreshments, have desert and more wine for the boozers of course, and have Dani open her gifts.

The gifts were a blend of bowls and glass wear – the practical and then the sexy, mostly Lingerie. Why so many bowls I thought to myself before answering my own question. She would of course have to have something to fall off the dining room table and break, when my brother came home to find his bride to be in that number.

My sister had had the forethought to get my brother to pick out lingerie. We could tell immediately- it was the black ones, unfortunately not Hot Stripper Pink as I would have guessed.

When the combination of kitchen bowls and adornments met Lingerie boxes in various stages of unwrap, the curious men started to show up.

My dad popped in with that look of interest and fear that become men when they are outnumbered. Looking at the lingerie as it was revealed from its packaging

My father, Danielle’s almost father in law said ,“ Dani, you better not answer the door in that.”

Dani giggled in a funny, only for Giles, way.

Then Uncle Michael showed up for a reason I forget, he too looked a bit mystified at the collection of women in their best dresses and makeup sipping or gulping depending on what side of the divide you were on, teetotal or boozer, but regardless we were all outnumbered by wrapping paper and underwear, thongs to be exact.

After Dani had unwrapped my gift, the turquoise apron with a hot pink embroidered, “Spurling’s Slave.” Fortunately for me they were able to cover up the thread that started to form a “U” before Chris saved the day. See my previous post for the whole story

LINK…

When my gift was revealed my sister shook her head.

“ Does that underwear match the apron?”

“No,” I said.

“Why should we pretend she can be perfect, when her husband will never be! “ I thought to myself.

“Imperfection is empowering.” I thought, “Just wait till she becomes a derelict mom.” All that lingerie will be replaced by nursing bras and XL spanx.

After my gift had been received I went to fetch Eva from her nap so she could have a brownie too. I missed most of the final game, which was another quiz, this time it was, “What would Giles’s say.” All the ladies, mothers and friends, had to draw a question out of the fish bowl and ask Danielle the question, she had to guess what Giles’s answer would be, and then they would tell her the actual answer.

When you have a toddler you tend to miss out on the best jokes, bits of drama, or otherwise trivially important moments you never even knew were so important before you had kids.

It was getting risqué and Dani got upset and refused to answer the question, “What would Giles say was the moment you embarrassed him the most.” Which made us all think the answer was way worse than it was.

Bridal shower

It got awkward for a minute, the teetotalers got quieter as the boozers got louder. The teetotalers got closer to the edge of their seats while the boozers sunk more comfortably into theirs. At the same time, with the addition of a gluten free brownie my stomach had grown and distended beyond the confines of my too tight dress, so every so often I would hear a punctuating pop as the zipper popped open, it seemed to be in concert with Dani’s mom, who had taken to popping bubble wrap from the gifts, when the ice tea ran out, punctuating every awkward question and answer.

When the games and gifts came to an end, we decided to try the new bridesmaid dresses on the two girls, Sadie and Eva both 2, both too into dressing up, parties and brownies to be properly tamed. My mother had gone to great pains and deliberation to buy two flower girl dresses. There were more colour swatches, bows, dresses, consultations, web surfing, flying to Williamsburg to go to the fancy dress shop, that I was beginning to think it was no longer my brother’s wedding, but my daughter’s coming out party. Several dresses, and even more shoes later their outfits had been decided. Eva happily transformed out of her Saturday wear into her flower girl princess dress, the problem came when my mother began to worry about the white tulle getting caught up in brownie, chocolate crème egg or worse, grape juice box.

All the guests had ohhhed and awwwwed at the girls in their miniature half ballerina, half wedding dress miniatures as they ran around in full irate princess mode. After a few minutes, my mother tried to convince the girls to take the dresses off. At about the same time, Dani’s mom excused herself to go to the bathroom and probably collect her belongings for a swift exit. While she was absent, my mother’s determination to preserve the white tulle hit its peak.

“Eva it is time to take the dress off.”

“Mom, she doesn’t know what time means.”

“She knows what off means.”

“Noooo” Eva said, the “oooos” dragged as her top lip puckered and her bottom lip protruded and her hips swung the tulle against my mother’s wishes.

I was making no efforts to get it off, I figured she could wear it while I finished my glass of wine but my mother’s disapproval took over.

“I don’t want her to mess it up.”

“Well then we will have to force her out of it.”

“Do it.”

“Okay”

I place my wine glass slowly down on the outside table; I slowly bend over hoping to coax the zipper down without Eva noticing.

“ Just take the dress off already,” my mother says, impatient with my bending to a toddler’s wish- way of doing things.

Mom bends down right as I had just got the zipper down a couple inches and grabs Eva.

“The dress comes off now.”

My mom holds her up in the middle of the room and begins to shake Eva so the dress will fall off, white tulle untouched. The faster my mom shook Eva the higher pitched her screams became.

At that moment Dani’s mom returned from the bathroom to find my mother shaking Eva, screaming in the middle of the party. She stood in silent shock, the ice cube in the last glass of Iced Tea slips, the dress falls off and Mom sheepishly hands me my screaming now naked toddler.

Meanwhile Dani’s mother must have had flashes of her future grandchildren with shaken baby syndrome and is probably right now hatching a plan to move my brother and her daughter safely to the other end of the island. She said nothing but made her exit soon after taking the rest of her banoffee miniature pies.

A few minutes later after Eva had recovered from her tantrum with the help of the last chocolate brownie, I led her through the house to say goodbye to the teetotalars, she cried.

“Mommy, my arm hurts.”

“That’s okay Eva, GiGi didn’t mean it.”

Suddenly I had my own childhood flashback. One day afterschool my little sister had thrown a predictable tantrum about not being able to consume vast quantities of sugar as is every child’s dream, having to be marched through the sweet aisle at the local pharmacy. As she was reaching for a package of black current fruit pastilles my mother yanked her arm out of reach of the candy display. My mother’s enthusiasm was no match for my sister’s ear piercing frustration at being whisked away within moments of success. My sister’s public performance reached new levels of achievement in drama when she insisted in tears and pain that her arm hurt.

“You hurt my arm, you hurt my arm.” Floods of tears, and the attention of the entire community of shoppers, led my mother’s tough exterior to crumble.

“Are you really hurt?”

“Yes.” My sister sobbed, holding her arm complete with floppy wrist.

“It’s my shoulder, you pulled it out.”

“Oh my God” my mother said overcome with guilt scanning the audience of cough drop buyers.

“We will have to get the doctor to check you out.”

She marched us both through the doors of the pharmacy into the doctor’s office, which was conveniently still open.

After a quick examination of my sister’s shoulder and arm, and a bit of a wink, he proffered,

“I think she will survive, nothing is out of place, broken or bruised except an ego.”

He gave my sister a lollipop for being a good patient. Her eyes light up because in a way she had won more than a lollipop.

That night my mother retold the saga to my father who quietly nodded, but taking in every detail he hatched a plan.

The next day on speaker phone a woman called my mother at home.

“Hello, I am looking for a Mrs. Jane Spurling.”

“This is she.”

“I am Mrs. Butterfield from the Department of Social Services.”

“Pardon.”

“Department of Social Services mame, we have had a report of public child abuse.”

“Who me?” a quiet but guilty voice came across the line.

“A member of the public has made a complaint that you were abusing your child at Robertson’s pharmacy yesterday afternoon, and that the child was in an ill or injured state as a result.”

“But But I took her to the doctors, you can ring them, she was really fine.”

“That does not make it right.”

“I promise to never do it again.”

“We will be arraigning you on charges to be determined by the family court.”

Before my mother burst into tears, the caller revealed herself to be my father’s secretary put up to it my father and his conspiratorial friends. For the thirty years since, this story has continued to give all of us many occasions to laugh, especially my sister who has always had the same persistent knack at getting her own way. My mom had not changed much either in the intervening years, and it was not the first or last time my mother would be had by a practical joke, including the one that my husband Chris had in store for her for Bridal Shower 2. Tune in next week!

Welcome to the family

Welcome to the family

A reading by a derelict mom

I have been asked to do a reading next week Friday, June the 6th at 6pm with music and readings at my local book shop, THE BOOK CELLAR on water street in St. George’s. Come one come all for Books, Brews, Music and Muse Part 2.

https://www.facebook.com/events/313127172176264/

Here is the excerpt from my published piece, “A Real Mother,” which I read at my last reading. I will be reading something new next Friday. You will have to wait another week for Meet the Fockers Part Two in case anyone was waiting for it! I was going to write it today but my brother’s rehearsal dinner last night has left me exhausted ( read between the lines- hungover.)

 

So here you go:

I was daydreaming, counting the cracks in the wall of the exam room, wondering when my husband Chris would ever paint over the bits of plaster in our bedroom, when the doctor began her palpation of the baby bump. She took her hand and made the shape of a cup with her thumb and forefinger and felt for the babies’ head.

“I think the baby is breeched.”

“What do you mean breeched?”

“She is the wrong way around,” the doctor replied.

“What do you mean the wrong way around?” I started to notice I was parroting her answers, hoping they would sink in, as I tried to let go of my birth plan.

“Most babies by now have turned their head down and will soon drop into the birth canal.”

“But last week you said she was fine?” I insisted, for the doctor must of course be wrong.

“Babies move. Her head and feet are upright, she is bent at the waist and her bum is headed for the birth canal, a Frank Breech.”

“Can I give birth to her that way?”

The doctor shook her head.

“You wouldn’t want to, and we don’t allow it in this country.”

‘In this country’ had the deafening ring I knew not to argue with.

“We will need to book you in for a C-section. How is Wednesday December 21st?”

 

 

 

“O.K.,” I said with disappointment, and a sort of hollow feeling imagining a man in a white coat just coming in and handing me a baby. It seemed like there would be no real arrival, that it would be like planning an event, picking up a passport or takeout. Here is your baby. Condiments are on the left; napkins are on the right. I was sad. I would be robbed of the experience of a natural birth. I was sad for about five seconds. I had worked so hard at denial and now that I didn’t even have to push her out and it was nobody’s choice, it felt like a Monopoly get out of jail for free card.  So why was I so disappointed? Part of me thought birth was like a roller coaster: you went into labour and you couldn’t get off the ride, and once it was over it made you thankful that no matter how hard the baby screamed at night, at least it was the baby and not you screaming in pain, fear and exhaustion. At thirty-five they can’t say, “Oh she is just exercising her lungs, to help her breathe better.” They call you a wimp. My secret was I already knew I was a wimp and I was frightened.  Now I didn’t have to give birth, I could just lie down on a bed and be given drugs and operated on. A big slice in the shape of a smiley face cut above my pubic bone, my guts moved to one side and the baby taken out, everything put back in and sewn up.  A few hours to rest from surgery and it would all be over and at the same time just beginning.

But the more I thought about the IV, the surgery, the room with ten people dressed in masks and greens scrubs, the more I started to get nervous.  Was surgery better or worse than pushing a grapefruit sized head out of your vagina? I started to second-guess myself. A natural birth was what I wanted.

“Only 5% of babies are breeched, they don’t know why – it could be the shape of the uterus or that the baby decides she wants to be upright.”

My reality was making me feel guilty for all the haughty moments I had over the last few months thinking that if I was prepared enough it would all go as nature intended.

 

 

My daughter’s intentions did not cross my mind and as I contemplated how she had decided on her own path to her birthday, I wondered how many of my future life-altering moments would be decided by my offspring. I had done all the birth classes and now a butt-heavy baby had chosen my fate. I was never sure in my professional or personal life if I hated surprise or certainty more, or if I hated each for not being the other.

I searched the Internet. Pictures turned up everywhere of pregnant women in unthinkable positions. The number one recommendation to turn a breeched baby was to find a pool and a maternity swimsuit and do headstands holding your breath, the inversion method. I was left with the image of myself in a neoprene parachute like bathing suit attempting a headstand in the pool with the National swim team doing laps around me. A pregnant woman’s crotch teetering dangerously into their lane was not necessarily the motivation they needed. I had my doubts that I could lift my legs upside down without tearing a muscle, which had all shrunk and tightened around my favourite sitting position since the fourth month of pregnancy.

I looked up acupuncture and discovered there was a maternal treatment called moxibustion.  I made an emergency appointment for the next day. My acupuncturist let me know she needed my husband there to help. Baby classes, baby books, doctor appointments, baby showers, and now moxibustion – this was not going to be easy. Coming through the door he hit his head on a wind chime. He stared at me with a glare.

“Humour me,” I asked.

“You forgot your patchouli oil and your hippie beads.”

“Please don’t be negative.”

“Why did I marry a bohemian?”

His suit looked confining in the waiting room filled with framed landscapes, houseplants, and a natural sounds CD playing in the background. I stared into a magazine while he typed vigorously on his blackberry. My acupuncturist came out and motioned to me that she was ready to see us.

We walked into the office where she laid out the special herbs I would need to bring about my miracle.  “All of this so I can put myself through two days of torture,” I thought. She began what felt like a satanic ob-gyn ceremony.

“Chris, you will need to do this for her every morning and every evening from now until the baby comes. You will need to both be positive and visualisation is very important. Are you with me?”

I elbowed Chris.  He was gaping at the bookshelf of book titles, including Seeing the Future in Snowflakes.

“We are going to tilt you slightly upside down.” Her hand eased the upright back of the chair toward the floor, tilting my feet upward on display.

“Are you okay down there?”

“Yes.”’

“You should try to relax.”

I saw her reach into her drawer and take out a box of matches. I knew she wasn’t a smoker. Chris’s eyes darted between me and the doctor, and the box of matches. She continued, unfettered, taking out a pack of Rizlas. I worried that treatment of a breech baby was turning me upside down on a tilt table and the doctor and Chris were going to get high. She unravelled two papers and opened a little package containing an herb-like substance. With the ease and practiced hand of a drug dealer, she rolled the herb in her fingers, sealing the papers with a quick flick of the tongue. Her able hand held up the spliff in the air announcing, “Now we begin moxibustion.”

“What is that, ganja, weed?” Chris exclaimed.

“It’s mugwort.”

Chris gave her a doubting look.

“A Chinese herb that will stimulate blood flow to the uterus and has been known to turn breech babies. What you do is…”

She took out a match and struck it underneath her desk. It glowed as she held it to the spliff, gently encouraging the flame. The half-witch half-drug-dealer then stood above my feet.

My toes began to wiggle in fear and dread giving me away. Without noticing, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath, then theatrically moving her arms, hovered the giant spliff above my feet. I was waiting for someone to burst into, “This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home,” but everyone was silent in abeyance and some of us were laughing inside.

“You hover it as close as possible to the outer side of the little toe,” she instructed. “Can you feel that?”

“Yes.”

“It should be a gentle warmth.”

“Yes.”  I could feel something but all I could see were plumes of smoke and imagined that my toe hair was now on fire, as it (like the rest of the hair on my body) had grown to an unimaginable length.

“And then after a minute you do the same on the other foot.”

She demonstrated.

“Okay, now you try,” she said offering Chris the spliff. He reached out his hand, pausing it in midair looking down at me for encouragement.  Chris held the smoking ember and moved it closer as I jerked my foot away.

“Now you just relax down there.”

He waved the spliff next to my left little toe; I could feel the warmth, but could not feel the baby move at all.

“When do you think it will work?” I asked from below.

“You have to encourage the baby. I will send you home with the mugwort.”

She turned away to assemble our dime bag, when Chris took the spliff to my other toe. He held it too close.

“OWWWWWW,” I yelped and flayed my foot in every direction.“You burned me!”

“I am so sorry,” he said, astonished.

“Not too close,” said the doctor. She tilted me back up, and Chris put my shoes back on, inspecting the burnt toe.

“Now, do you have some way to lie upside down?”

The dog ramps we had all over the house to help my dogs climb up stairs and protect their backs, flashed through my mind.

“Yes,”

“Then you are all set. You have four weeks; if you do this your breech baby will turn.”

“You seem so certain,” said Chris, with the obvious tone of disbelief.

“Just do it,” she said and handed him our dime bag.