Tag Archives: A Momoir

A Momoir, Chapter 6: I’m Not Always Like You, Mom. But That’s Okay.

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My kids always roll their eyes but they know better than to squint them and call bullshttt when I tell my stories.  They know the truth: that I am a living, breathing product of the (legendary) Unsupervised Generation.  I drank in junior high school.  I hitchhiked.  I rode public transportation before friends taught me how to drive.  I smoked.  I cut class.  I snuck in.  I snuck out.  I pretty much did unscrupulous things every chance I got.

 

My mother knew none of this.

 

I also did my homework without being told, got myself to school (and work and EVERYwhere else) without help and filled out college applications without so much as a sniff of curiosity from my mother.  I likewise ate what was prepared, picked up after myself and made sure to disagree with her in my head or into my pillow rather than unleash a fate far worse than my imagination could ever muster.

 

Despite the lack of assistance (or Uber) it was not a hard life.  If I’m being completely honest, it was fondly enjoyable even (you don’t say) without the internet.  It seems my generation was adulting before there was even a trendy term for it and I don’t remember anyone ever complaining about it.  There were fun times (drinking age = 18 = #seriously) and scary moments (drinking age = 18 = #seriously) and there was no shortage of regrets or mistakes or lessons learned.

 

Oddly enough, I grew into a mom who knows where her children are most of the time.  Kind of a weird paradox, I know.

 

Every year around this time at the anniversary of her passing, my thoughts drift to my mom.  She’s been gone seven years now and while there are moments when it feels like cliched yesterday, there are other times when it feels like I’ve been flailing through motherhood lost and adrift without her for longer than I can remember.  I often think about how similar we are (apologies to my better half for the insufferable German stubbornness) but more telling is how different we became as moms.

 

I imagine most people try to improve upon their own histories.  I know I do.

 

My earliest memory of telling my mother I loved her was from a pay phone in the hallway of my freshmen dormitory.  As I grew older it bothered me more and more that it might have been the first time I ever said those words aloud.  It affected me so profoundly the term became my personal pillar of parenting.  I’ve raised four kids who have been hearing it – and saying it — their entire lives:  into their phones, over their shoulders and across my kitchen counter.

 

My mom was a woman of few words when I was a teenager.  A divorced mother raising three kids alone wasn’t exactly the norm back in the early 80s.   She had a lot going on and kept her business to herself (lord, she would loathe Facebook today).  She didn’t banter with my friends (cannot lie, she was a wee bit feared), she didn’t know any of my friends’ parents and she was barely civil to my boyfriends (alright, looking back, perhaps she may have been on to something).

 

When I went through a high school breakup the only way she knew about it was when she heard Phil Collins’ “Throwing it All Away” on a six-day loop through my bedroom wall.  I’ll never forget her coming into my doorway and warily whispering, “Please.  Play another song.”   That was it.  No sentimental mother-daughter moment or long car ride for ice cream.   Onward I went.

 

Conversely, I chat up my kids’ squads all the time (interesting aside: my mom never used hip terms like squad because she could’ve cared less about appearing hip.  Again, why be hip when you can terrify?).  My own home often bustles with kids and I can get a hold of every parent with a single tap.   Contrary as well, when any of my own litter experiences heartache I am at the ready.  My eagle eye and alert ear can detect the slightest change in demeanor, attitude or (sigh) hygiene and my maternal senses hurl into overdrive.  I am at once a bevy of constant communication and presence to my troubled teens.    It appears I have become the nurturing contradiction of my own adolescence.  This is entirely surprising to me because – again — I never felt slighted or deficient in my own adolescence.  I can’t even recall any friend ever confiding in her mom back then either.  That’s what girlfriends had each other for.

 

My siblings and I would kid my mom mercilessly about her earlier Teflon exterior.  She was a tough one for sure but man, oh man, did she mellow out as time went on.  It might’ve been her second husband, who arrived just in time to steady her, lessened her load of financial worry and loved her endlessly.  More likely it was the welcome stream of good fortune that befell her family the second half of her lifetime.  After a difficult decade or so, my mom’s life blossomed and happiness settled in to reveal her softer, fiercely funny side that was clearly dormant in my own youth.  She was able to witness her three kids all marry and create enjoyable lives for themselves.   She was showered with ten – TEN! – grandchildren, the joy of which infused her every thought and attention (alas, cue in the dejected and forlorn look of abandonment from said second husband, forever delegated to the 11th spot in her life).

I wish she was here to see them all now.

 

I especially long for her to see mine.

 

My oldest was a high school senior and putting us through the ringer at the time of her illness.  Whisper as we tried to shield her from our own distress, she knew.  She always knew.  I would give anything for her to see how he turned things around to shine so brightly.  She would be over the moon with pride at the impressive young man he’s become.

 

Long before she died my mother had already taught my daughter how to sew but her protégé had only just begun to display her innate talent.  In the time she’s been gone my creative gal has gone on to teach herself how to knit, then crochet, then paint, then create jewelry, then, just recently, open an online store.  Without question these two special ladies were kindred spirits of an enviable kind.  I know the magnitude of her granddaughter’s natural gift would fill my mom to her absolute core and I wish she could revel in it.

 

She would still get the biggest kick out of my second son, whose devilish grin as the tween she adored now radiates the stubbled face of a young man.  He captures every nuance of my mom’s own unassuming and affable personality and she would be tickled at their spitfire similarity.  Gawd, if she ever caught sight of him in his college dress blues she might never stop showing his picture around Long Island.

She’d probably favor my youngest the most, a mere little boy when she left us. There was never any harm helping out the baby, she believed, because from any vantage point all the others always seemed unfairly ahead of the pack (*writer shakes head, remembering childhood).  My littlest’s unrivaled charm would find her putty in the palm of his hand.  If she could see him now she’d gush at his every accolade, triumph in his every touchdown and sneakily slip him a twenty whenever they were alone.

 

I get jealous of my fortunate friends who still have time with their moms.  I really do.  I hate that my kids won’t see their Nanny’s eyes glistening at their weddings.  I hate that they don’t get to hear any more of her stories.  They wouldn’t dare roll an eye at hers.  I hate that she’s not here to teach them more.

 

But if I find myself on a lonely road, I know too well my friends will eventually find themselves on a difficult one.  Aging parents leave battle scars endured only by the strongest of daughters.  I hope my familiarity and understanding of this stage of adulting is a comfort to them, for I’ll be at the ready for all of them when they need me.

 

I miss my mom at some moment in every day.

 

As the years tick on without her I shall remain incredibly bemused at our similarities (sarcasm, anyone?) and increasingly content with our differences (ummmm, mea culpa, mom, for the bandwagon Facebook brags).  Something tells me she would be nothing but overjoyed at the perfect metamorphosis of the Mom she raised.

 

(Finally, for what it’s worth, here’s my maternal postscript to my kids:   Yeah.  Just because I did it doesn’t mean you can.  Remember, spidey senses.  I catch EVERYthing.  Wink.)

 

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/

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A Momoir, Chapter 5: The Magnitude of the Middle-Aged Mom

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I’m at that age where my chin hair is growing in quicker than my leg hair.  It’s okay, so far there’s not a lot of it.  Just the occasional (cough, frequent) white, barbed wire-ish strand that I’ll absent-mindedly touch, then maniacally pick at, then frantically keep feeling for, then obsess over for the remainder of the day until I can yank it.  (I now keep tweezers in my desk at work.  I also keep fiber powder in there, too, so I bet you can tell where this is heading.)  It’s not pretty but it turns out there are far worse things to fret about once you reach The Milestone birthday.

 

I try to remain positive but I’ll admit I’m finding middle age to be quite galling.  Things are happening to my body utterly out of the blue, completely without reason and entirely against my will.  Yes, there are things women who’ve celebrated The Milestone know are coming.  We’ve been duly cautioned that hitting a certain age may find our hair turning to straw, our necks morphing into topical maps and our midsection gaining independence as its own sovereignty. We’re also aware that despite how much we slather, our crypt keeper hands will forever tattle our true age.  But hang on now.  There is some serious unpleasantness happening on the downslope of that hill that people keep leaving off the memo.  Some of that stuff probably deserves a heads up.

 

For instance, how come no one ever tells us we will never sleep again?  FortheloveofGod, most of us haven’t even caught up yet from the sleep deprivation of having babies.  It is cruelly ironic that this bombshell comes on the heels of hearing every fitness expert alive shouting the same warning:  that women cannot ever (EVER) lose weight unless we are getting a good night’s sleep.  Whaaaaat?

 

Where’s the asterisk on this throat-punch revelation that also reveals – SURPRISE! – 90-minute-intervals of (let’s call them) naps are your new nighttime from this day forward.  Hissss.

 

Every single night I find myself sweltering …  until I am convinced I am frost-bitten … or I am passed-out-exhausted …. until I am wide awake an hour and a half later – for the rest of the night.  My better half and I (wisely) upgraded to a king-sized bed a few years ago and between our alternating aches and pains and our temperature battles and our long-nights-journeying-into-days… I’ll be dammed if that bed sometimes just isn’t big enough.  It really blows.

 

Also, speaking of missing chapters in the guidebook, what about the poo?  (That opening paragraph wasn’t a red herring; you knew this was coming.) Good grief, just when we’ve got diapers AND adolescence (those inimitable non-flushing years) in our rearview mirror, all of a sudden poo is a thing again?  What.  The.  Fkkkkk?   I used to go away for entire weekends and – legit – not go to the bathroom until I was safely back home three days later (yeah, that freaked out my man in the worst of ways).  I used to marvel at friends who could effortlessly go multiple times a day, whenever and wherever they wanted to (complete freaks, if you ask me) because nope, that was not me at all.   Welp.  No sooner did I blow out a few dozen candles on a birthday cake did a tsunami of change sweep in.  I’ve had more times when I’ve entered a ladies room to pee and — what the – let’s just say did a helluva lot more than pee in there.  No joke:  when it first started happening my initial shock was palpable:  I wouldn’t have been more surprised if another baby had dropped out of my body and into that toilet.   Worse, no sooner did the new me start seeing lavatories in a different light did my doctor start heralding fiber as the cure-all to everything.  You have got to be kidding me (now you understand the aforementioned office staple, next to my tweezers).

At this point though, a couple of years into my brave new world of Milestone Menopause, my reaction is a more mellowed meh and a shrug.  Sigh.  Tis just poo.

 

Fo’ sho’:  this getting old thing is not for the weak.

Without question, there are some pretty awful things about middle age: the overwhelming feeling of incompetency that comes with re-entering the work force (or – kill us — the dating game), having to navigate the holy hell that is social media (screw you, Snapchat, you’re stupid), even the phantom pains that spring up for no apparent reason (like rising from the couch.  UGH).  Throw in ridiculous weight gains and all the daily directives to give up sugar and dairy and alcohol and animal protein and carbs and be sure to walk six miles a day and do yoga stretches and meditate and take your Me Time and enjoy life (without dairy or alcohol or animal protein or carbs) and OHMYGAAAAWD.  Who saw this coming?  Remember when we used to complain about baby throw-up on our shoulders?

Deep breath.

Here’s the glass half full:  It’s not all doom and despair.  There are some super cool things about middle age, too.  It is without question a great, great time to be a mom.  Our kids are getting older, becoming real people, doing awesome things and becoming more companions than charges.  Somewhere down the road they become fun:  we can now play off-color board games with them and watch R-rated movies without hiding under pillows with embarrassment.  Another truth: I am a completely different mom than I was so many years ago, a lot calmer and less uptight.  Hell, I’ve even stopped screaming.  Now I go low:  the more my kids yell in protest (because hello, I’m not dead – there are still RULES, PEOPLE) the lower my voice gets when reacting to their nonsense.  It’s like a villainous whisper out of a Saw movie and I highly recommend it; kids can’t grasp what hit them when we start acting like Anti-Mom, the total stranger who’s shown up to guide them from this day forward. Trust me, good times.

Middle age also gives us a boatload of hall passes for dumb things.  We can completely ignore pop culture now because it has very little to do with us and that’s a blessing.  Remember when it did?  Remember when a sexy, ripped sweatshirt, some leg warmers and a dream made us believe we could escape a steel town?  Remember when we wore business suits with (cringe) sneakers and socks and didn’t think for a minute it’d hurt our chances at a promotion?  Remember how we worried if our lives measured up without city friends or coffee shops or Manolo Blahniks?

Turns out, a surge of self-confidence comes in with The Milestone and makes us realize we could care less what people think about our minivans and mom jeans.  I don’t understand any song on the radio and I don’t want to because it seems everyone’s supposed to be grinding or smoking weed or living the thug life.  Please.  I’m happy to stay out of the loop on a lot of things now.  Pass the Dutchie and allow me my presets of classic rock stations, thankyouverymuch.  Keep your Kardashians and if I need a role model I’ll just Google Christie Brinkley because holy mackerel, have you seen her lately? — that chick is ridiculous

 

We’ve been liberated:  anyone out there really give a rat’s ass about Iggy Azalea?  Didn’t think so.

We’re in a pretty good place now for sure but I’d be remiss if I didn’t reveal the absolute worst thing nobody ever tells you about hitting The Milestone.  This one’s a doozie and I completely understand why no one talks about it.  It’s the freight train that body slams you and knocks out your breath and is far more sinister than sleepless nights and bowel issues and belly fat and reading glasses in very room of the house.

 

What could be so bad, you ask?

 

How about the insane ticking of time – more like a Telltale Heart thumping – that is constant within your head?

 

Once you’re over The Milestone mountain there’s rarely a day that ends without at least one thought about the passage of time.  It usually catches me by surprise when I least expect it, on the most innocent of occasions, and some days it’s just devastating.  I once scrolled past a Facebook meme and became paralyzed at the words:

“One day you will pick up your child for the very last time and not even know it…”

The raw truth of that statement shattered me.  My mind raced to try to remember.  When did I last hoist any of them up onto my hip?  How old were they… five?  Seven?  Eight?  How could I not know?

 

How could I not know?

 

That simple sentence stayed with me – and saddened me – for days.

 

Another time my son tried to drum up some laughs by popping in an old video of his mom — super-duper un-sober — at a neighborhood party a dozen years earlier.  Alright, alright, alright, while not my finest mom moment, I’ll admit it was pretty funny.  But as the tape played I soon became fixated at the sight of him — my tow-headed little prankster — running around the scene in the background, no more than 5 years old.  It was like falling down a rabbit hole.  I became transfixed, watching him jump into my lap and snuggle into my neck, my neck which now, a dozen years later, may be morphing into a topical map.

It was debilitating.  I pretended to laugh along with him in present day but inside … my heart was aching at the past, watching both his little hands hold my face and kiss me sweetly.

My eyes flickered between the screen and his college-age, muscular, hirsute frame.

 

How in the world did I get here so fast?

Tick tick tick.

Thumpthumpthumpthumpthump.

 

I don’t care about my crows feet.  I don’t mind the girth of my muffin top.  And being ready for bed by 9pm most nights really doesn’t bother me, either.

But the ferocious speed of traveling down the other side of the hill?

That is without question the absolute worst part about hitting The Milestone.

Really.  I’d take the poo any day over that.

*     *     *      *      *      *

Missed the start of A Momoir?  Catch up here:

 

 

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/

Chapter 6:  Click here:  https://tinadrakakis.com/2018/08/24/a-momoir-chapter-6-im-not-always-like-you-mom-but-thats-okay/

 

 

 

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.