While I was being feted yesterday for Mother’s day by e-cards, phone calls and brunches (not to mention some cute little bead bracelets, necklaces and earrings by the youngest grandchildren), I had to think back on the mother in my life. Like most women, as I age I begin seeing similarities in our beliefs, mores, and values. And even in our physical characteristics. Some things I’ve inherited (my baggy eyelids), some I’ve absorbed (the pattern of reading and writing) and some things I’ve adopted (not throwing out a bottle of anything until every last drop of whatever was in it has been used.)
I’ve also had two good mothers-in-law who also contributed to who I am. It would have made life tough if either of them had said to me, “Don’t you think it’s a little soon to get married?” Maybe it was, but both Ida May in 1955 and Bertha in 1975 made sure I knew they were happy that I was joining the family. I was a second wife in both cases, and it might have made more sense to wait a little longer. But all the mothers were warm, kind and loving toward me and I’ve always looked at my own kid’s spouses and tried to exhibit the same acceptance. Luckily they have chosen well, and I’m thankful for the pattern set by the mothers in my life.
At brunch yesterday newly-11 year old Olivia was giving us a synopsis of the latest books/movies all the kids are reading/seeing….you know the one about the kids fighting to the death. When she finished (and that was primarily because her mother kept reminding her that she was to tell us the “short version” ) I tossed out that it concerned me that perhaps this was not a good message to be putting out to today’s children. Olivia sweetly countered with something like, “Grandma, kids understand that this is a just a story and reading it doesn’t make us want to go out and do it. We are smart enough to know what is right and what is wrong. Lots of books and movies have that kind of stuff in it.”
It was surely exciting to see that irrespective of whether I thought she was right or wrong, she is growing up in her reasoning and in the way she couches an answer to an adult’s statement that she disagrees with. I have to assume that someone, parents, teachers or other role models are helping these young readers sort through the blood and gore and gratuitous mayhem and find a kernel of grace in it. (I don’t let her see me inwardly throw up my hands and shout “What is the world coming to?” like all the rest of my old geezer friends.)
In 1994 I signed up to participate in the Women’s Health Initiative, which was a long-term study of women’s health issues. For the first 10 years it was an active participation, with yearly blood draws, participation in various studies pertaining to diets, hormones, and calcium intake, along with tests like EKGs and physical measurements. After those 10 years the involvement was simply recording answers to a medical survey sent to me each June. This year in addition to the medical side, they also have included a psychological survey. Therein lies my tale.
After I read through the psychological questions, I felt like sending the booklet, unanswered, back to them. For the life of me, I can’t figure out how to answer the questions. Jerry says I am overthinking them! He may be right, but I think if I answer honestly it will be the same as asking a man, “Have you stopped beating your wife?” and giving him a choice (filled in with #2 pencil) of “Yes” or “No.”
I particularly balked at the question, “I enjoy making plans for the future and working to make them a reality.” Basically I have a choice of “Yes” or “No.” How can I answer that? With the post-biological clock ticks getting fainter and the damnable inflation burning up my pocketbook as fast as the car burns up gasoline, I don’t see either answer as satisfactory. As my mother always said, “There is nothing sure but death, taxes and dishes!” Asking this question now about making plans for the future is 10 years too late. Either way I answer will be wrong.
However, in grumbling about this to Jerry and my cousin Shirlee, both of whom kindly withhold the eye-rolling bit when I fuss so much, I came up with a clarifying thought. I wish they had asked the question this way: “Do you have enough to do that you’re afraid you’re not going to live long enough to do it all?” I could have answered that question with a certainty that wouldn’t have looked like depression. “Yes, I have endless genealogy to discover, blogs to write, granddaughters to watch grow up, hats and gloves to knit, music to listen to, iPods to master, health to maintain, books to read, and time to work like heck to make sure my money doesn’t run out before my life does!”
Hooray for grumbling, or overthinking. I can see that finally understanding the question, the answer is, of course, YES!
I just heard some voices in the kitchen. If I had a hearing aid, I would turn it down so I wouldn't have to listen to them, but since the appointment with the audiologist isn't until next Thursday, I guess I'd better pay attention.
Ah, they are calling "DISHES! DISHES!"