Monday, November 14, 2005

Grandmother Used To Be This Tall

My mother's been here for a week and it's been wonderful. She arrived wearing her usual uniform of Talbot's raincoat, tidy tweed skirt, crisp blouse, and pumps, putting all the other grandmothers on the flight to shame (no painted kittens on sweatsuits for her!), and since then she's been a tireless, light, warm presence in the house. Urplet and the Rabbit worship her, my husband loves her, I adore her, and also she does all the laundry while she's here. And cooks. And polishes all the silver--seriously! I find her in the kitchen with rubber gloves on her tiny little paws, and she says, "Oh, I was just touching up those bowls of yours," and the amazing thing is, there is no implied criticism whatsoever in her voice or actions. Seriously! She's just doing those extra things she knows I'll never get done, and she knows I'm grateful, and I know she knows, and I think I'll stop there because this sentence is getting quickly out of control. We've had a lot of fun with her here, though. We all got into stitches the other day because we were marking off everyone's height on the wall--first her, then me, then David, so the boys aren't the only one's being measured. My mother is four feet eleven and three-quarter inches, so we marked that off and wrote, "Grandmother is this tall." Then it struck us that she used to be five-one, so we marked that off too, and wrote, 'Grandmother used to be this tall." Which tickled us until we couldn't stop laughing; I don't even know why. But there it is, on the kitchen wall for as long as we have the house.

She leaves tomorrow and I'll miss her. Having her here makes me realize how adrift many of us who live far from our families really are once we have children--or even before we do. In my twenties I was more than happy to be adrift, and still, I'd like to drift a little more than I do. But I'd also like to feel that net of family around me; I'd like not to get up every morning and kiss The Tall Doctor goodbye and face the day with my two boys essentially alone. I'd like my family to be part of my family (oh yes, THAT makes sense, but you know what I mean). I'd like my boys to have a warm and gracious presence near them often, who is wiser and more detached than I am. I'd like to be part of a mosaic, instead of scrabbling around trying to create one from scratch myself for my kids.

Ah, well. I suppose isolation is the seamy underbelly of mobility. Still, sometimes I think about moving closer to home, to the mountains and the sea, to the towns and traditions I understand in my bones. I think about having the family I was given and the family I've helped make all in one place. I know it wouldn't be easy, but I think in some ways it would feel more natural than subjecting my children to unadulterated me out here on the prairie where even the landscape is alien.

In other words, I think what I'm saying is, I want my mommy!


Anonymous WV mama said...

Oh. Yes. (and how nice that you can have her *some* of the time!)

Love to you, my dear friend, and maybe you *will* someday move back to the chilly traditions of the NE -- but if you don't you know that you_do_ have your mum and dad with you in your heart and that you share that with your children DAILY, whether you notice it actively or not.

WV Mama (who misses her Mama too. Daily.)

7:03 AM  

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