Friday, July 31, 2009

Failures that Make Us Successful

My daughter called me this morning in a state of panic. Her distress, an 'indiscretion' made by her new husband, was the source of great hurt and worry. It was a small thing, really, unless you put all the puzzle pieces together and realize it was just the symptom of a much bigger problem.

Her dismay was augmented by being 31 weeks pregnant, just at the beginning of the 'balloon phase' of pregnancy, where the woman begins to look (and walk) like a balloon on a stick. She enters the place of 'I look ugly' in her mind. I suspect it could be proven she is the ONLY one who thinks this way, because I, like most people, have never seen a pregnant woman I thought looked ugly or fat. Most men have a reverance and awe during this phase (not to be confused with shock and awe...that comes at the moment of delivery.) So her fear is probably the genesis of her dismay. Her fear is of losing what she once had, a girls free and easy life, to the one carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. This would be known as the "Oh My God! I'm responsible for this tiny little person," phase. This phase hits women first.

Men usually only experience it after the "shock and awe" phase (see definition above.) Although delayed in men, it is profoundly more grandiose, and it makes them become REAL men. REAL men start to realize the pretty girls laying in seductive positions are actually someone's baby girl, much like their own. It makes them want to buy guns with sniper scopes on them. Protective responsibility seems to be the motive, as demonstrated recently by my daughter's own father.

It makes a man want to defend his home, or trailer, with a Tim 'the Toolman' Taylor level of 'more power.' Logic doesn't seem to play into it, as anyone with a decent can opener could break into their trailer, but the intruder may reconsider acting on his desires if he sees an angry father in boxer shorts holding a rifle with a sniper scope, firmly planted on his face.

This defense of the home is the instinctive nature of most male species. Territory is everything, and giving their offspring a safe environment to grow and thrive is the purpose. But modern society has temptations and distractions that make this more difficult. Thus the reason my daughter was so distressed. She needn't worry, because MOST men eventually realize they are being distracted and stop the behavior. We, women, need to understand when we are being impatient and give the guys a chance to grow up. Sometimes it comes soon after birth, but it almost always comes by the time their baby girl grows past puberty and into a size D cup.

This is the whole thing about life. All we see right now is viewed differently with the eyes of wisdom. The sexy woman on a porn video stops looking so sexy when the man watching her views her from a father's eyes. In fact, most things look different when viewed with the Father's Eyes. Mistakes become learning tools. Trips along the way become learning experiences that teach us how to be better people.

So don't dwell on the failures. Failures are just the process by which we all learn. And those learning experiences are what lead us to success.

And, for the record, beer summits are not 'teaching moments.' However, with enough beers, people have been known to THINK they are professors! At 10 beers, you are a philosopher. At 11, a theologian. At 12, university professors.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

To be or not to be....mentally unstable.

I got some juicy news tonight and I am coming apart at the seams trying to contain myself. I have heard my sister, the one that thinks I am mentally unstable, is throwing my parents a surprise, 50th wedding anniversary party. Everyone is invited, of course. Well, everyone but me and my offspring. I suppose this is understandable, given the animosity they still hold. I was once told, "Never associate with crazy people." So, it seems appropriate that they don't want me there.

I am so very tempted to send a note of regret that I won't be in attendance to my mother, who absolutely despises surprise parties (or so she has always claimed,) thus letting the cat out of the bag. I mean, if they all hate me already, there's no destroying any relationships in telling her. After all, if I am mentally unstable, they can hardly hold it against me for doing something as mentally unstable as spilling the beans to my parents. Crazy people do crazy things, right?

Then I began to realize the sheer pleasure it must be to be considered 'mentally unstable.' Imagine a place where you can do anything you want and say whatever you think, and at the end of it all, simply exhonorate yourself by claiming, "After all, I AM mentally unstable!" Think of the people you could insult and the bizarre things you could do with a nice little caveat like that! And you don't even have to go to confession because a crazy person is not considered responsible for his sins. Man, that would be such a fun way to live!

It worked for so many others in the past, and even Hitler was deemed to be somewhat looney. This all got me thinking. If Jesus was known for making crazy people sane, was He really doing them any favors by making them stable again? Why would God take that gift away from me? OK, so my family isn't talking to me. Big deal. Imagine the stuff I could do and the things I can say, now that I am mentally unstable. I don't even have to be logical in my thinking! I can support Proposition 8 and not worry about gay retribution. I can be anti-Obama and not worry about the Huffington Post declaring me to be ignorant (as they have done to so many other mentally stable types.) I could even vote for Sarah Palin and not worry about my liberal leaning adult children thinking I am a right wing extremist. I'll just be that 'crazy woman.'

Only one problem. I'm not crazy...or at least, I don't think I am. Crazy people never think they're crazy. So I am back to square one. What if I'm NOT crazy? You mean, I really AM a right wing extremist?

*sigh* Maybe just for a day...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Retroactive Abortion

I have been retroactively aborted. I think it happened 3 years ago, but it actually might have happened a lot longer ago. Retroactive abortion isn't as physically painful as actual abortion (I don't think) but it is emotionally painful.

It happens when someone chooses to excommunicate their own child which, consequently, excommunicates that child's family. Sometimes this is for the best, especially if the child is a sociopath killer. No one wants to go to a family reunion wondering if they will go home in a wooden box. But in most cases, Retroactive Abortion (RA for short) happens when a dysfunctional family decides their chosen scapegoat has exceeded their allowance for being human.

In my case, it was based on a comedy of errors and a very minor issue. Grandma got sick. Dad had to put her in a home. Grandma didn't want to go in a home. Grandma kicked up a stink and someone called Adult Protective Services to report Dad trying to starve Grandma and hold her against her will. Dad thought it was me. My mistake was in taking Grandma seriously when she said she wanted to kill herself. I called In Home Support Services (same department as APS) to get in home suicide counselling for Grandma because Dad wouldn't talk to me anymore for some unknown reason. Dad thought I was trying to get custody of my 93 year old grandma when I had 7 children and Multiple Sclerosis. (See how absolutely retarded this is all beginning to sound?) Dad had a visit from the police who advised him not to starve Grandma. Dad assumed, along with the rest of his over reactive, mentally unstable family that I had reported this.

I had NOT. Of course, in these cases, the truth is irrelevant. All that matters is if it SOUNDS plausible. The reason for this is because people who are that determined to fill the role of hero must have a villain as their antagonist. The reason this is a retroactive abortion is not because my father excommunicated me, but because my mother did so a very long time ago. I think it was because I came too soon after her second child (15 months.) That, and she was only a baby herself (18.)She has, at best, merely tolerated me, although she was always there to fulfill the role of mother when others were watching. But she never really liked or accepted who I was. I was the fat, bad complexion, ugly child. Instead of obsessing over my figure with hours of Pilates, I read books. Theology and history were my favorites. I didn't agree with everyone around me. I challenged the thought of the status quo. In a word, I didn't make her look good, and that was unforgivable.

Memories of her include the time I told her I hated her (I was about 3 or 4) and she told me she hated me too. (I have dealt with this same situation by saying the obvious, NORMAL thing, which was "Well, you can hate me all you want, but I will ALWAYS love you!") I was told I was a slut while I was still a virgin because I was reading Erich Fromm's book called "The Art of Loving" (not a porno book, a philosophical piece.) At this, I took out the book, turned to the chapter on Unconditional Maternal Love (Erich's example of the purest form of love) and read to her his definition. This type of love, loves the subject regardless of their actions or behaviors. It is the reason mothers of serial killers insist on their child's innocence. My mother couldn't understand this concept. It was foreign to her.

My mother isn't a bad person. She just doesn't understand love. Maybe due to being adopted two weeks after birth and not bonding well with her adoptive mother, maybe because she has some innate genetic predisposition to not allowing others in, she found the greatest power was in not giving approval to anyone. People pleasers like me would crave it, and keep trying. It didn't matter how much my mother belittled me, demoralized me or ignored me. I kept trying. Affection from her consisted of having her go to great lengths to pop zits on my face. Her nail marks were all over my face, and if I tried to squirm away, she would slam my head against the wall. That was the equivalent of a hug. And my father would ignore it all.

So when I was retroactively aborted, I was crushed. But my own adult children asked the obvious question, "WHY?" I can't give a good answer to that question.

I had vowed to be a different kind of mother, and I am. I adore my children. I took Erich Fromm's words to heart. I love each of my children, in their uniqueness, regardless of the appearance, weight, complexion or actions. I see each as a beautiful gift from God, each with their own unique contribution to humanity. I hug and kiss them often, just as my Grandma did to me. I encourage them to be better when they misstep, and I rejoice in their accomplishments.

My eldest is going to have her first full book published. It is coming out in the Spring of 2010. My parents won't see the irony in the subject matter. It is about surrogate motherhood. It starts off unbiased, but it brings the reader to a conclusion that most won't expect. As noble as it may seem, being a bio mom only is a selfish approach to life. The greatest gift is not in the birthing, but in the gift of the whole lifelong mothering.

So Mom, if you read this, thanks. You made me who I am, and you have now given me the freedom to be everything I and my children can be. Unwittingly, you have helped me give the one thing you could never give me yourself. You helped me give unconditional love. And the payoff has been a thousand fold.

For those of you who have been retroactively aborted, let's make a support group. We need to find each other, and be a family.

Oh wait...we already have that. It is called the Catholic Church.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Lessons in Parenting Adults

After a long, weary, 17 hour trip we finally arrived in sunny California from Ireland. The kids were amazingly good, considering the agony of 11 hours on a plane with too few bathrooms and too many drinks. We survived the drive home from Frisco, forgetting how bad traffic at 3 pm can be. When we walked in the door, we were greeted with the smell of tacos cooking, courtesy of my daughter's future mother in law. It was a nice homecoming, and I was glad to get home.

Then, I went to my room. Remind me never to leave a $500 silk comforter on a bed when an 18 year old is living in the house alone. Have you ever seen silk stained by shaving cream, washed in a washing machine and ironed with an iron that was too hot? That was the view I was greeted with when I finally retreated to the bedroom. My daughter had been using our home like a frat house, and the surprises were just beginning.

As we began to actually clean the rooms (rather than the typical brush through most college aged kids are renown for doing) we discovered half eaten sandwiches, half filled cola cans and bugs I didn't know that could eat those things. Then we discovered the Piece de resistance....new and used condoms under the bed.

Now, I'm not an idiot. I knew my daughter might be having parties while I was away, but I thought she'd cover her tracks a little better than that! And either the girls were pulling trains, or the guy was a virgin who was trying every condom brand known to man. I am deceiving myself into believing the latter.

Now, if I had just found them in one room, I would think I needed to have a chat with my daughter. But after sucking one too many 'johnnies' (as the Brits call it) in the vacuum, I realized my house had been turned into a half way house for recovering nymphomaniacs. The only comic relief I found in the entire episode was the sheer volume of used, yet empty of human bodily fluid, condoms I did find. The mental images of a bumbling teen boy trying desperately to don a condom before the moment was lost eternally was too delicious to ignore. Imagine an 18 year old boy, having his first big chance in a house with no other REAL adult supervision, and the anticipation of finally 'getting the girl', only to discover he would have been better served to practice his dressing skills on a banana first! Throw a beer into the mix and I began to realize the opportunity that was lost to ME! I should have had video cameras installed in every bedroom, monitoring these activities. Imagine the hits on YouTube I would have gotten!

The moral of the story: If your 18 year old promises ANYTHING in order to stay at home alone, for any amount of time, install video cameras. At the very least, it will force your 18 year old to face her demons. At best, it could be sold on a very X rated version of "America's Home Video's."