Monthly Archives: May 2014

When the Sandwich Generation Loses Bread: Now What?

sandwich

Now that my step-father has passed away, I am parent-less. It very well may be that the idea of this is more unsettling than the actuality of it.

 

As many adult children will concur, when a parent is sick it is all consuming.  Your own life becomes a secondary area of maintenance.  You rely on spouses and friends and neighbors to ensure everyone is fed and transported while you tend to your beloved mom or dad or, in this case, step-dad (which puts a slightly different spin on things, which I’ll get to in a bit).

 

Illness, even while happening at a snail’s pace, oddly blurs through your life at a breakneck speed.   But when illness has taken its ultimate toll and you’re done plowing through arrangements and funerals and logistics and planning … it’s still some time before you notice the finality of events.

 

Suddenly one day you’re no longer worrying about a sick parent.  Or any parent.  And it’s kind of a weird thing.  As a parent, with parents, I had many roles.  Now, not so much.

 

When you do focus on your family again you might notice – really notice – that your kids are taller, or your dog’s fatter or your home’s exterior paint looks pretty crappy.  You can move forward and tend to things you hadn’t given much thought to in a long, long time.

 

It’s a new page in a new chapter.

 

And it startles me that the act of putting together photo boards for a wake makes me realize how few pictures I’ve actually taken the time to print out of late.  Damn Facebook.

 

The short story, still chock full of irony, is that my mom passed away almost three years ago, leaving behind her husband, my step-father – a man 20 years older, in failing health, and completely in the throes of elderly entitlement and negative outlook.  He was pushing 90 at the time of her death and had lived the life of a quintessential old school husband – completely assuming that any female in the room might be happy to fix him a plate of food or gladly accept the wad of cash (his salary) that he’d hand over in exchange for taking care of him completely.

 

Saddled with the reality that he could no sooner walk to the mailbox than live alone, there was more than one occasion when my sister and I looked at each other with a “wtf?” glare of disbelief.  My mother had a wicked sense of humor.  (Well played, Mom, well played.)  We took care of him from the minute she was gone and (with great patience) journeyed with him for two years, nine months and nine days until he was able to get to where he really wanted to be;  back by her side.

 

He came into our lives while we were ensconced in adolescence, a knight in shining armor to a single mother of three children, and we treated him with the indifference any teenager might have.  So long as he didn’t interfere with our Friday nights in the Burger King parking lot, what did we care who he was or what he did?

 

But what he did was nothing short of amazing.

 

He put my mother on a pedestal for more than 30 years.  He taught us to drive.  He absorbed every icy shout of “YOU’RE NOT MY FATHER!” we could hurl.  And with every infuriating and bigoted nuance of his personality (“…please stop calling them colored people, it’s been frowned upon for a long time now…”) we came to love him deeply.

 

He walked my sister and I down the aisle.

 

He was present for the births of 10 grandchildren.

 

He never gave up on the Mets.

 

He ate 4 Eggo waffles with his coffee every morning before 6am, securing  the adored “Grandpa Eggo” into our vernacular for always.

 

And yes, with his nifty black glasses on, he resembled Carl Frederickson from the movie “UP.”

 

We will forever smile at that.

 

He was a kind and decent man and lived a full life with the woman of his dreams and a family that embraced him.  I am not saddened that he’s gone because while putting on a brave face, he has been lost and aimless and miserable living in a world without my mom. But I can’t help but be a bit melancholy, though, because in times like these, our own mortality blazes in our minds.

 

Cheers to a man who brought smiles to so many.

 

And apologies to my children, who now have a mom that can fully devote every ounce of her attention on them … and their schoolwork … and the state of their bedrooms … and their behavior … and their curfews … and …

 

UP

 

Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was just featured in the Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” She takes on the cyberspace @Eyerollingmom  and Eyerollingmom.

 

 

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When it Comes to this Mothering Thing, Who’s Better at it: You or Your Mom?

okay mom

I never talked back to my parents.  Yet my own kids talk back to me. A lot.

 

My children also raise their voices to me when they’re angry. Think back: would you ever?

 

Worse still, I often have to tell my spawn to do something multiple times — multiple times —because my continuous requests are repeatedly ignored.  Can you even imagine?

 

As another Mother’s Day approaches I can’t help but reflect on how remarkably different I parent than my mother did.  When I dig deep I have to admit:  there are times I feel completely overrun by the people in my home that are less than half my age.  I don’t think my own mother ever felt that way one day of her life.  In fact, she wouldn’t put up with one minute of what I tolerate from my children.

 

Does that make me a worse mom than her?

 

In all fairness I should throw it out there that my kids are not rotten.  Not in the least.  And never have been.  They were never the tantrum-throwing toddlers in the restaurant, or the give-a-pinch-when-a-grown-up’s-not-looking schoolyard brat or the current topic of conversation in the teachers’ lunchroom (didn’t know about that? oops, spillin’ secrets here).  They happen to be the epitome of respectful individuals when out in the real world and are quite well liked.  Actually, if I’m being completely honest I’d have to say they are, in fact, fairly boast-worthy children.

 

So why do they shit on me?

 

Usually after a particularly bad display of disrespect from one (or two, or three, or all four) of our kids, my husband and I will have conversations about this, scratching our heads (okay, maybe while downing beers).  We question how in the world we got to be parents of children who easily display behavior that would’ve resulted in a swift backhand from any – and all – of our own parents.

 

We think back and remember the fear in our homes and the physical repercussions of any type of conduct unbecoming.  It certainly wasn’t unusual back then.  Actually, it was very, very typical.  We all did what we were told – the first time – because it far surpassed the alternative of NOT doing so.

 

But there is no fear in my own home today.  There is no apprehension for questioning or stating opinion or disagreeing.  It gets loud, sure, and at times inappropriate, but no one’s ever hesitant about speaking up.

 

There are other blatant differences in my home now that speak volumes to how very different my parenting style is from my mom’s.

 

For instance, my kids talk to me way more than I ever talked to my mother at their ages – about cringe-worthy topics that would zap the frost straight out of my mom’s bouffant.  Eighth grade girls doing decidedly un-eighth grade things in the way back of a bus on a school trip?  Sixth grade classmates experimenting with drugs?  You name it.  Details are anted up without pause, over nightly bowls of pasta or during car rides to practice.  Like, nothing.  No big deal.

 

Also, my kids tell me they love me – all the time and for no particular reason.  My first distinct memory of saying “I love you”— out loud — to my mom was from a payphone in the middle of a dormitory hallway during my freshman year in college.  As I am forced to go through my third Mother’s Day without her, my heart still gets heavy when I think of this and my regret pains me.  It was way, way too late in life to have started that.

 

No doubt about it, my kids are being raised in a different world entirely.  My mother didn’t socialize with my friends’ parents. I would venture she didn’t know most of their names at all.  She didn’t come to many school events and never checked to see if I was doing homework.

 

If I had to make a list, I’m pretty sure I’m involved in a gazillion more things with my four than my mom ever was for me.

 

Yet the loves of my loins – all of them – have moments of intolerable selfishness, insufferable self-absorption, whininess, rudeness and petulance.  And – why hold back now — they occasionally swear.

 

So I do wonder:  Who’s done a better job at this mothering thing, me or mine?

 

What do you think?

 

With all her failings, my mother’s love for me was ferocious and I knew that every day of my life.  She raised kind, smart and capable children.

 

With my own failings, my love for my children is ferocious and they, too, know it every day of their lives..  I am raising kind, smart and capable children.

 

I’d say we both win this one.

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day to all of us – the successful ones, the failing ones and the holding-on-for-dear-life ones.   We got this.

 

 

 

 

Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was just featured in the Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” She takes on the cyberspace @Eyerollingmom  and Eyerollingmom.

Eyerollingmom’s Top Ten Truths of Motherhood

mothersday

 

Eyerollingmom’s Top Ten Truths of Motherhood

10)        Every child – not just yours – picks his nose and smears the contents on the wall near their bed.  A brilliant Mom will allow them to harden, then hand over a scraper, then say, “Get to work.”

 

9)         No matter how stinking cute your toddler looks in his feetie pajamas … you will want to be rid of him approximately twelve years later. Keep photos of this stage handy.  You will need reminders when he travels to the un-cute side of adolescence.

 

8)         The first few times you sit in the passenger seat of a newly-permitted teen driver, you will believe you might eat a roadside mailbox.

 

7)         When a child wets the bed … flipping him over to the opposite side of the mattress is intelligence, not laziness.

 

6)         Adolescent girls like no one.  Not their mothers.  Not their friends.  Not themselves.  Zip yourself snug into that thick skin and hold on tight.  For this tsunami of time I say, “Got girls?  Get wine.”

 

5)         No one – at any time – ever – cares to hear your labor and delivery stories.  Why?  Because everyone else’s are way funnier, far more dramatic and significantly gorier.  Really.  Just ask them.

 

4)         If your child ever has the utter misfortune of eating poop … and his siblings have the serendipitous good fortune of witnessing it … there will never again be a more riot-inducing laugh fest at your dinner table.  Forever.

 

3)         Don’t act all smart and self-righteous for banning your ‘tween son from Facebook … or limiting his computer time … or taking away his Xbox … when you’ve already (naively) provided him with a smartphone.  For middle schoolers, these are merely handheld portals to porn.  Shazam.

 

2)         If you’ve skipped pages of bedtime stories … or driven past the library only to hear a small voice in the backseat say in wonder, “Hey, I think I remember that place …” … or signed homework pages you’ve not actually looked at … then rest assured, you are far from alone.

1)         Every once in a while your kid is going to do something incredibly stupid.  Or sorrowfully bad.  Or dishearteningly immoral.  Or fretfully embarrassing.  Or uncharacteristically out of character.  Without question, it will be the darkest days you’ve ever encountered as a Mom.  You will be overcome with sadness and will wistfully recall the good times, the fun moments, and the sweetness of happier days.  Keep the faith.  SOmetimes kids are just dumb for a little while.  One day when you least expect it, when you stop paying attention, and stop longing and praying, the clouds will suddenly lift.  And your awesome and funny and beautiful and charming and loving child will be back.

 

And you will feel the Mom joy once again.

 

Happens every time.

Happy Mother’s Day to All of us!

 

 

Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was featured in the 2014 Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements.  (Next would be the home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore).   A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook. and@Eyerollingmom on Instagram. 

 

Missed the start of A Momoir?  Catch up here:

Chapter 1, Click here:   https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/07/29/a-collection-of-eyerolls-chapter-1-yes-billy-joel-we-will-all-go-down-together/

Chapter 2, Click here:  https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/08/13/chapter-2-sometimes-kids-suck-a-lot/

Chapter 3, Click here:  https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/09/22/chapter-3-sorry-were-tied-all-kids-are-filthy/

Chapter 4, Click here:  https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/12/02/a-momoir-chapter-4-a-moms-plea-to-seth-rogen-enough-with-the-masturbation-already/

 Chapter 5, Click here:  https://tinadrakakis.com/2018/04/20/a-momoir-chapter-5-the-magnitude-of-the-middle-aged-mom/