Today was one of my mom’s days off. I don’t think of them as her days off, so much as I think of them as my days off, though. She comes over, so thrilled to spend time with her grandchildren, and when she arrives I go running from the house giggling, with my balled-up fists to my mouth. I watch her coming from the front window and my heart soars with the prospect of freedom. I watch her coming and she’s floating on a golden cloud; an angel come to deliver me. I cherish those mornings of child-free errand-running almost as much as I cherish wine or chocolate bars or peabutter. You can imagine my disappointment when I called my mom this morning and instead of saying “I’m on my way” she said “I’m not feeling well, I’m going to lie down for a bit”. I of course replied “well, how will you watch the kids if you’re sleeping?” She clarified “No, you’ll be watching the kids.” But, but…. No sweet freedom, no morning off? No coming home to piles of neatly folded laundry?
I was forced to take my children with me on the errands I had to do today; the errands I had been saving for my (mom’s) day off. Into the car seats, out of the car seats. Load the stroller, unload the stroller. Unfold the stroller, insert Baby, wrangle preschooler, do 5 minute errand. Reverse and repeat. And repeat. And repeat. It was not at all what I had planned. I had planned to take advantage of my mother’s obsessive compulsive need to fold laundry. She folds sheets into perfect little bundles that would make Martha Stewart look like a slovenly drunkard, and she folds my nightgown and matching robe into a perfect package and then uses the belt, like a ribbon, to tie a bow around it. It’s like a little bon bon of love that is dropped magically into my new life of servitude, I mean, motherhood. But there was none of that for me today, oh no, mom has a cold. A cold that she blames poor little R for. Can you believe that? That boy is NEVER sick….
Worse than all of that though, was the disappointment that R felt when we drove past “Nannie’s” house and he asked if we were going to visit her. I told him that his Nannie has a cold and she was having a nap. This was something that he clearly could not process. You see, Nannie, to the best of my knowledge, has never denied my son anything. This is the woman who once poured my son a BOWL OF SUGAR and when questioned, quite logically explained that he LIKES sugar. This is the woman who I’ve heard tell my son “You can’t play with that drill because your Mommy said ‘no’ and she’s the boss in this house, but she’s not the boss at Nannie’s. Wanna go to Nannie’s?” You’d like to play with Mommy’s jewellery? Of course! You’d like to practice juggling flaming batons? If it will make you happy, sweetheart! You’d like a bowl of chocolate-covered crack nuggets? Coming right up, joy of my soul. This leads to a lot of our son screaming at us that he wants his Nannie whenever he doesn’t get his way.
So, this morning when I denied him access to his Nannie, R screamed from the back seat “My whole city is RUINED!” When I asked for clarification, R told me in a totally rational fashion that Nannie’s cold RUINED! his whole city, world and life. He was so upset that I had to chance waking up my mom and phone her. When I did, she wasn’t sleeping and I explained that she had created a monster and that her grandson was having a psychotic break because Nannie was denying him his request for her presence. I told my mom that if she came over, I’d make her tea and she could lie on my couch instead of hers and that she and R could snuggle and watch his new dragon movie and I wouldn’t even make her fold laundry. So she came. There was snuggling, and tea and all was right with the world. And I remebered how, as a kid, I never felt that my mom was unavailable, never, not once. She always took my calls at work and I knew if I needed her, she would come right home. Even when I was 18, or 25 or 33. And now my boy feels that about her, too. As I folded laundry I hoped that my children would always feel that I will be there for them in the middle of the night, at work, as kids, and as adults. That, I will likely achieve, but I will never be able to fold sheets like my mom. I know–I`ve tried.