Mom’s Who Do To Much

The other day a coworker asked what I was doing for Thanksgiving.

nice gloves

 

“Cooking.”

 

She asked if I usually cook Thanksgiving. It struck me as an odd question. Who else would cook?…I am the mom…after all.

 

“Yes, I have cooked, give or take a year, for the past 27 years.”

 

Her eyes got big, “Wow, I never cook Thanksgiving.” Now I was intrigued. She is a mom too. How did she pulled that off?

 

She explained that the first time she cooked a turkey it wasn’t fully cooked when she served it, so her family didn’t want her to be responsible for the next years, or any year after thats’ holiday meal.

 

Brilliant. Why had’t I thought of that? I had, after all, accidentally burned the first shirt my then husband asked me to iron resulting in his never asking again. I had the paradigm. I saw how it worked. I didn’t take the hint.

 

Later that same day, when rescheduling a client, I offered a session the week of Thanksgiving. She declined explaining she will be too busy preparing for Thanksgiving. She was cooking.

 

I thought of the many Thanksgiving weeks that I worked in Pittsburgh while living in Chalk Hill. An hour and a half commute that I returned home from on Wednesday night around 6 or 7. I had made the stuffing, nut bread, and cranberry bread and shopped the weekend before so all that needed to be done to get dinner on the table in the next 20 hours was par boil, peel and make the white sauce for the creamed onions; peel, boil and mash the potatoes; prepare and boil the green beans to toss into the sautéed garlic and chopped shallots; whip the heavy cream into perfect decadence; put the leaf in the table and set it for 8-10 friends and family; panic because every year I seemed to forget the cornucopia themed paper napkins leaving me with Scott Every Days to design the Martha Stewart wannabe table; oh yeah, stuff and cook the turkey.

Apple and pumpkin pie was deliciously prepared by my then Husband. I never learned how to make pies, so he did. (Hint, hint.) Kathleen brought the sweet potato casserole. Heidi another dessert and/or vegetable.

 

This is what I expected of myself. And soon it became what my family expected also. I  trained them well. It never occurred to me that it was too much to do or that I could do less. Especially when working a full week. Out of town no less.

 

It is Thanksgiving again with Christmas right around the corner. And you know I am no easier on myself at Christmas. I usually begin asking myself, sometime the morning of December 26th, why I do this to myself year after year, concluding with my traditional New Years Resolution promising not do so much in the new year.

 

I do it for other reasons too. I do it for the sake of tradition, so my kids have endearing holiday memories, because my mom cooked Mama B’s cornbread stuffing and creamed onions, although she did not work outside of the home and the tension at the well set table of china and sterling usually made dinner a fast and furious event, because when all the preparations are complete and the people I love most in the world are sitting around the table, I feel sweetly and fully blessed.

 

Yesterday I was offering to teach Jena how to make her great grandmothers Alabama corn bread stuffing. (Perhaps unconsciously passing the torch…PLEASE.) Jena said she was planning on being one of those people that never learned to cook. (She does seem to date guys that love to cook.) I heard myself judgmentally ask,”How do you think that will be for your kids?” My question shamed her into retracting her statement saying she was only kidding.

 

As I retold this exchange to Tom I owned how sexist it was of me to assume holiday traditions will be her responsibility.

 

So how does a mom do it? Create tradition, if that is important to her, and not exhaust herself in the process? Ask for more help? Do less? Care less? It is a labor of love that can end in tired resentment.

 

I would love to hear your ideas. How do you do it?

 

And Happy Happy Thanksgiving!

Facebook and Family Death

I knew he was terminally ill. My X husband and I had a few touching emails about his dads diagnosis. How was he? Was his dad in pain? How was his mom? We gently recalled some details of my dad’s death 19 years ago. This was pretty much the first time my X and I had referenced our past with tenderness. I felt hopeful that all would be well between us at our son’s wedding next July.

 

So three weeks later, I gasped when I saw, in my email inbox, a cryptic Facebook post from my daughter about life and relationships, ending with, “RIP grandpa.”

 

For some reason whenever my daughter does anything on her Facebook page I get an email about it. In some ways I like receiving these frequent slices into her life. I feel included. Sometimes, however, it is as they say, “TMI.” Now I am not a Facebook aficionado so I don’t know how this happens or how to stop it. I do plan to learn though-for two reasons. One, because I was told it is necessary to use Facebook to draw readers to my blog. Secondly because I was told if you keep learning new computer skills it helps prevent Alzheimer’s.

 

I clicked on the link on the email to get the whole story. I read the comments from her friends. I looked at the endearing picture of her and her grandfather, arms around each other, cheeks pressed together smiling for the camera. Lower on the page there was a picture, that I remember taking, of Jena and her grandpa when she was young. They are facing each other, looking directly at one another, Ed’s hands on her sides stabilizing her. A bit of drool on Jena’s chin… It has always been one of my favorites.

 

I was in shock. Ed had died. I always liked Ed. Unfortunately, in laws are often a causality of divorce. Our divorce was no exception. Memories of Ed’s warm hugs and sage advise to me when my dad threatened not come to our wedding flooded my thoughts.

 

I didn’t know what to do. What is the protocol here? What is the social media etiquette in this case? Is there any? I read through the many comments of condolences and wondered, “Should I comment too?” Dear Jena, So sorry to hear about your grandfathers death. Love Mom. How weird would that be?

 

I felt like an eavesdropper.

 

I felt hurt.

 

I was really confused about what to do.

 

My rule is when in doubt…do nothing. I decided to follow my own advice until I could make some sense of this. I talked with my friends Debbie and Susan and they agreed. (They don’t even have Facebook pages.)

 

The next day my X husband emailed me telling me his dad had passed. His telling me directly seemed to grant me permission to know. I then knew what to do, I called my kids. Strange how that worked. Or at least used to work. Bad news was passed from the family to an inner circle of specific people which they then shared with the larger community. It seems social media is changing that. At least in this case.

This all makes me wonder about how we use Facebook. On one hand, this was Jena’s way to share her news. She was able to tell her 566 “friends,” in one easily typewritten sentence, the death of her grandfather. In return, probably instantaneously, she could receive heartfelt warmth and sympathy. Instant compassion.

 

On the other hand is Facebook the acceptable way to inform others the intimacies of one’s life? Does social media replace deliberate sharing to a chosen few? Does It afford, in some cases, a welcomed distance when sharing difficult news?

 

What are the social mores of social media? Are there any? Maybe we can come up with some. Any ideas?

 

I have one:

 

1. Call your mother concerning any death in your family before posting it on Facebook.