Tag Archives: Mothers

I’m Late! I’m Late! For Every Important Date!

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How did it happen?   How did I go from being early, to being merely on-time, to being now firmly ensconced in the group known as the always-and-hopelessly late?  Although not quite always, as I was on time for my wedding day.  This successful grand effort took preparation.  I went in advance to the courthouse to check out where we should park, and timed how long the drive from our house would take, so as to arrive in a timely manner.  All my efforts paid off; the wedding ceremony went off without hitch, and left us hitched as a result.

As I was growing up, my mother was a stickler for punctuality.  It probably came from her time spent serving our country in Army Intelligence during WWII.  She talked about her punctuality to the point of excess.  As she waited for others, I could hear her sigh heavily and repeat, “I am always on time.  I hate it when other people make me late.”  You did not want to keep my mother waiting, because doing so unleashed her wrath and a lecture on the importance of punctuality in all things.

My brother on the other hand was always notoriously late for everything.  During his high school years, the bus stop was across the street at the elementary school.  My mother could see the bus arriving, after which it turned right, loaded the on-time-and-waiting students, and did a turnaround at the top of the hill.  This gave my brother five minutes to dress, grab his books, comb his hair and run out the door, to be picked up at the corner.  I don’t think he ever missed the bus or school for that matter. He showered at night and didn’t need his morning caffeine as he does now.  This drove our mother into a complete frenzy.

“He is going to miss the bus.  I am going to talk to his father about this again.  Why does he put me through this every morning?  Where is he?  Is he ready?”

I would stand in the hallway upstairs and yell out updates.  “He is on his way.  He has his books.  Okay, open the door!”

After he went on to college and I started school, I promised myself and mother that I would always be on time.  I succeeded.  I was ready early and waiting for the bus across the street.  When it was time for me to drive to school, I left early.  During my career days, I was on time for everything.  I never missed a business or personal airline flight.  For every appointment I arrived early and read my book patiently.  Once when my notoriously tardy brother and I were traveling in France, I saved us from missing our flight home by dragging him to the airport early.  He was yelling at me about how I always have to be everywhere early just like our mother.  However, when we arrived at Charles de Gualle airport, we discovered it was Daylight Savings.  Thanks to me, we were still on time.

Now that I have Myasthenia, I take several medications in the morning to get my neuromuscular junctions fired up.  I also require caffeine, not for medical reasons, but for pep.  As I had to adjust to life without a career, my motivation for being on time waned.  Then you factor in that I now have a dog, a husband and frequently his daughter and it is a recipe for tardiness.  It also doesn’t help that my husband is late for everything except work.  Even for work, it is a mad dash out the door.  Nothing like my brother, but he just makes it.  I was late for our first date, but he was later.  After we discovered that both of us were always late, the pressure was off and we were both typically late.  He will never be waiting for me and vice versa.  Life is good except…

I keep my friends, some of whom are like my mother, waiting at least 15 minutes.  I am at least 10, 15 or 30 minutes late for all physician appointments.  They do not seem to mind and figure out a way to squeeze me in.  Except for my tardiness I am a compliant, funny and responsible patient.  We all have our faults right?  I try not to be late for massage therapy.  Balance Therapy is right down the street from my house, so if I am 10 minutes late, it is 10 fewer minutes of wonderful therapy for me.  I accept the consequences.  I am not an angry late person who blames others.  Though sometimes I did blame my late dog Pumpkin who took forever to find just the right spot to do her business.   Sometimes I was convinced she was stalling just to keep me around longer.

So the other day I was quite surprised when the Nurse Manager at the Pheresis Clinic pulled me aside to lecture me about my tardiness.  A nurse had gotten his or her scrubs in a wad and complained to him.  He tried to motivate me by using the respect issue.  “You’re not late for your neurology appointments, are you?”  Of course I told him I was and that I was basically late for everything, which typically had a snowball effect throughout my day.

“Am I keeping patients waiting?”  I asked, knowing the answer.  It is a clinic with open beds and in the afternoon there are six nurses and usually three patients.  No one ever has to wait,  it is by bed and appointment.

“No.”

“Am I causing staff to stay late or causing you to pay them overtime?”

“No, however, just make an effort to be on time for your appointment.”

“Okay.”

Why they are suddenly focusing on this particular topic with me now, I do not know.  I have been coming late for years.  Is it an attempt to improve my punctuality?  Do they fear it will just get worse?  Did one of the nurses have an outburst and want to control my behavior?  I do not know, but I was 30 minutes late for my pheresis run today and not one comment of displeasure was directed my way.  When I left there was still another patient being treated, so I was not keeping them.  I will try to be on time as they requested only because they have provided great care over the years.  I have very little control over many things and there are days when I wish for more control over my body.  It does things that take me by surprise still.  Being 30 minutes late after his talk with me was my way to take back control over a situation.  I could have been on time today, but I took a few extra minutes to enjoy the cold air and sunshine with my dog as opposed to being hooked up to a machine, immobile and uncomfortable for 80 minutes.  When you have to do that every three weeks then talk with me about my tardiness, until then I will see you, but I will be a few or five or ten or fifteen minutes late.  I hope you understand.

Are you on time, early or chronically late?  How does it impact your life?

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I Married My Mother

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My relationship with my mother has a long and complicated history.  My father died of pancreatic cancer when I was nine.  Up until that moment he had been my whole world and then suddenly I was left with this loving caretaker whom I barely knew.  She had been busy, caring for all of us including my father before and after his illness.  Their’s was a marriage born out of post-WWII convention: the man who worked and controlled everything, and the subservient homemaker.  My mother had a career during the war in Army Intelligence and was assigned to the Pentagon, but after the war the only careers left to most women were teacher, nurse or secretary.  Many times if a woman had a career, she could not have a husband and family, and was dubbed a spinster.   My mother worked as a secretary for awhile and then became-you guessed it-a Real Housewife.  Since this role was forced upon her by society, she rebelled against it.  As a result she was many times angry and resentful.  She felt trapped in a role that left her little time for any contribution outside the home.  After my father was gone, she spread her wings again.  She was dragged kicking and screaming back into the workplace by my brother.  Her confidence had been beaten down after all those years, and she is an introvert. My brother encouraged her to run for local office, which she did, and won.  She ended up being mayor of our village for 24 years.  In 2004, she was selected as one of NE Ohio’s Outstanding Women.

At 88, my mother is a regular reader of my blog.  Recently she commented how much she thought we were alike.  I was stunned.  What?! Us!? Alike!? We are not alike, I thought.  I am like my father:  adventurous, an animal lover, brash, at times reckless, impulsive and extravagant.  My mother then added, “I wasn’t just a mother you know.  If I were young, I would be participating in the Occupy Wall Street movement.”  My mother camping out without a daily shower, wearing her make up and high heels-okay I doubt it.  However, I can see her standing up and participating in the political process and I think she always had a romantic dream of making a difference in the peace corps.  Her comment made me think further about our many similarities.  How many of our similarities were due to nurture and how many were due to nature?  Because whether we like it or not our parents have a profound influence upon our lives both genetically and behaviorally.  We all reach the realization where we think, oh my, I am turning into my mother or father.   No matter how much we vow not to repeat her same mistakes or personality traits, living 18 years with someone and having her genetic components has a powerful influence, whether we like it or not.  I can look at my brother and see my mother.  Sometimes it makes me cringe and other times it makes me smile.

Even though I wrote an award-winning essay in the early grades about my mother’s obsession with cleanliness, I have developed the same habit. Recently I beamed with pride when two different friends on two different days told me my home always looks like a page out of Architectural Digest whenever they drop by.  Everything is kept neat and clean and I am sure our housekeepers love coming here as there is not much for them to do.

 

As a little girl I loved playing dress-up in my mother’s room.  I can envision in great detail the designer black suede high heels, suits, dresses, pearls, lipstick and purses.   My mom owned a purple Jantzen swimsuit, and when she put it on she looked like a glamourous pin up star from the 1940’s or 50’s.  My mother wore high heels to the beach and sprayed on her Chanel No.5. However, I was proud of her.  I longed to be just as glamorous and be admired for my fashionable style.

When I decided it was time for my husband to meet my mother I prepared him for the trip home.  He was the first man in a long time that I deemed worthy enough to meet Her Royal Highness, as I refer to her.  I told him about her compulsive neatness, her interest in politics and community service and likened her current existence to that of Miss Havisham in Great Expectations, living in a house collapsing into itself with the curtains drawn.  It was always my father who enjoyed picking out furniture and decorating, my mother just enjoyed keeping it clean.  But age has kept her from cleaning as compulsively as she once did and Mother would never be comfortable allowing strangers into her private sanctum to clean.

To say my husband and my mother hit it off is an understatement.  They were able to connect easily and talk about a wide range of subjects.  Even though they are both introverts, they found that they could easily chat and share stories.  I believe their willingness to make an effort for my sake was an important contributing factor to the success of the meeting.  They both like to quiety influence others, and are not bold and brash with their opinions as I am.

As I watched them interact, I was struck by their many similarities.  As I mentioned both are introverts and have a degree of social anxiety.  The verb “to change” does not exist in either of their worlds.  They are both frugal and financially responsible.  Both share a love of grammar and the English language.  Both were influenced greatly by education and particular teachers.  My husband is not close with any of his siblings and neither was my mother growing up.  They both focus on practicing good posture and comment on it frequently.  For both a recipe is gospel and not to be altered. Neither of them like dog hair, however they both tolerate it for my sake.  Both are obsessed with weight and diet.  Growing up I was very influenced by my mother’s obsession with being and staying thin and keeping me that way also.  Now I am married to a man with the same goals.   What I wouldn’t give some days to be able to eat unlimited junk food and sweets!

Did all those years with my mother predispose me to fall in love with and marry a man with many of the same qualities?  I don’t know, but I do know that a girl could do a whole lot worse.   The one quality that they both share, and without a doubt it is the one I love the most, is that they both love spoiling me rotten.

What qualities do you share with your parents?  Is your partner like either parent?