I’ve been calling my mom a lot over the last few weeks. There are a lot of nerves happening with the impending arrival of Beastly, I’m working really hard at getting better from the psych setback I’ve experienced over the last year or so, and sometimes I really just enjoy chatting with my mom simply because I’m bored. There is this strange humor my immediate family shares that I can’t find anywhere else.
My parents are working on putting their house on the market so my really neurotic father has had cleaners and stagers and realtors in and out of his house. I can just see his jaw twitching from the stress of having to allow strangers into his house. They had to rearrange all their pictures, repaint, clean, reorganize their closet by color…it’s ridiculous what they make people do to make their house look appealing to others. I get a really big kick out of thinking about how it’s making my dad go a little bit crazy.
My mom is really amazing at letting me just talk. I get so grossed out by what I like to call “girl stuff”. When I was a kid I couldn’t ask my mom to bring home hygiene products from the grocery store, we had a system where I wrote it on the list and she put it in the bathroom so there was no real interaction. I’m still like that, so a lot of the questions people ask me about pregnancy that seem benign really send me into a tizzy of embarrassment. When I’m allowed to just talk I sometimes end up mentioning things that normally embarrass me if I’m comfortable with the person. I have some friends I can do that with, and my mom is one of those people as well. She’s really good at recognizing when I need to calm down, and there is a harshness in her tone when she tells me that my medication isn’t working or I need to see a doctor. I’ve had people tell me that makes my family cold or uncaring but I would argue that makes them honest. When I’m not doing well that honesty is more vital to my well being than any ounce of kindness or sidestepping the issue.
That’s not to say that there isn’t kindness or love, my mom made sure to let me know how proud she was when the stager loved my photos. I really love photography and the last time Terry and I went to Seattle I had a nicer camera than I’ve had before. That meant I got to take some really sweet pictures of things like the aquarium, the space needle and my parents backyard. They have such a gorgeous backyard once winter ends and everything blooms. My dad did landscaping for a while before becoming a computer guru so it was all done by them. The colors are amazing. It felt really great to hear that pride in her voice, and hear at the same time that a professional stager not only loved my pictures but also left them on the wall! I’m in the process of going through my photos and selecting a number to go in a craft booth to sell. That was a huge confidence booster.
Towards the end of the conversation I asked my mom if the stager allowed my dad to keep Max in the closet. Max is my dad’s cocker spaniel that died when I was ten. He’s lived in my dad’s closet since then, cremated in a box. As my mom and I joked about my dad’s obsession with the dog she started telling me about when she went to the vet with Ziggy (their 13 year old cairn terrier) and my brother. Apparently some person brought in a cat in a carrier that was obviously dead. She started the story and then, while laughing, recounted how terrible she felt because she found the whole situation hilarious. The person wanted the vet to do something to save their cat. At this point I couldn’t help but laugh as well, I couldn’t help making the obvious statement. “Maybe they thought Miracle Max worked there. They cat may have been only mostly dead, you don’t know that!”
And the hospital wonders why I call my kid Beastly after Edward Gorey’s Beastly Baby. I grew up in a house where we laugh about Miracle Max reviving mostly dead cats. There’s a certain morbidity and cruelty to that I guess, but it really comes from things like Monty Python, Mr. Bean, The Princess Bride, and Keeping up Appearances. Maybe we’re strange, but at least we have fun!