The Craziness that is my Mother

I know a lot of people complain about their own mother’s annoying, obsessive behavior. I know I am not alone when dealing with a lifetime of never feeling like I will ever have a normal, healthy relationship with my mother.

This isn’t another rant of oh-how-my-mom-is-driving-me-crazy. I most definitely have written such venting, desperate, plea for relief type posts here. But this time, it’s about how in some sad, twisted way, my mother’s relentless, stubbornness has actually become a source of happiness for me.

Wait… no. Let me clarify. Nothing of her obsessiveness actually makes me happy. It’s just… well… let me give you an example.

My mom prides herself on saving money. And to be quite fair, she is good at putting away cash for a rainy day. However, she’s not REALLY great at saving money. Behind this facade is the need to always get a great bang for a buck.

Take one of our local pubs. They have daily specials and on Wednesday, they have their 10oz Angus steak for $15. It comes with two sides. And while we’re not talking about the best chophouse even at the level of a franchise monster like The Keg, I have to admit, for a quick fix on mid-week steak crave, it does the trick.

We plan on going to dinner at this pub after our daughter’s music night performance. I knew my parents would be game going to this pub. It’s decent food, large quantities and for a great price. Service… so-so. I mean, when we go for brunch, the service is amazing. For dinner? Not that the service is horrible, but twice I ordered their Australian Cabernet Sauvignon only to get some type of white wine. I mean, come on! Cab-sav? Who doesn’t know that is clearly a red?

My dad and I are both carnivores. Our weakness will always be steaks. So going to this pub for their Wednesday night steak special is a no brainer. It’s a school night and we’ll be in and out with our tummies fed.

My mom, however, isn’t so much of a steak-lover. She likes it, but her weakness is something she doesn’t get at home. Pub style nachos. She’s a sucker for them. But because the special for that night is a really good deal when you consider a saving of $13 for their steaks as any other night it will cost $28 for the 10 oz-er, my mom states she will get the steak as well.

I look at her and ask, “But you like nachos.”

She replies matter-of-factually, “The steaks are a very good deal!”

“Mom, the nachos are $14. You’ll be saving yourself a dollar. You don’t even like steaks that much.”

“But the nachos are always $14. The steaks are a good deal that night!”

Of course, by this point, I’ve lost interest in trying to reason with her.

This is just a small smidgen example of what is pretty much her constant state. Magnify this by 25 and you’re much closer to what it is like to live in my mother’s world.

I haven’t even gotten to that time she went on a cruise to Alaska and the one night they served lobster tails was the same day my mom was feeling motion sickness. But she had to get her money’s worth and since the meals are all included and not limited to just one order, she ordered two and force-fed herself to finish every last bite.

Before leaving the table, she threw up her entire dinner right there at the table. Not only did she spoil her evening, but all those around her probably didn’t enjoy that sight (or smell) as well.

Get the picture?

And where was I going with this?

Oh yes. Right. So while I think my mom is completely crazed to live her life this way, it’s given us, my husband and I, many entertaining conversations with good laughs between some moments of frustration.

I can’t change the way my mom is. But I certainly can make the most of it.

Proudest Moment as a Mother

When I think back to all the times I have been proud of my child, all were pretty much explainable… not being afraid of being separated from me on her first day of pre-school, learning to ride a bike on her own, report card after report card of mostly A’s (usually no more than one B – in French), academic awards, being a natural at the trumpet, finding her love for skiing, showing her compassion and generosity to her friend who gets picked on a lot, etc.

The list goes on.

None of this, however, compares to something which happened this past week.

It was what happened during her Science Fair (or STEM project which they call it now) presentation. Yes – of course I was proud of her project. And her presentation which went pretty smoothly. This time, it was more about how she handled the Q&A session at the end of her presentation. More to the point, how she handled one conceited, egotistical, annoying, know-it-all girl, whom I only needed to spend about 30 seconds with at my daughter’s birthday party this year to sum up my thoughts on her (i.e. “I really do not like this kid”).

My kid’s project was on the human’s short term memory and the studies based on the fact in which humans’ have a harder time remembering (or taking in new information) greater than three, on average. “Average” being the key word.

And yes, the studies have shown that the average can range between three and seven for short term memory. Point is, her project was basing it on the lowest common denominator – which was the number 3. Of which the data she collected when testing human subjects, proved her point.

Anyway – the know-it-all brat of course, had to point out that she read somewhere, that seven was actually recorded as the maximum number of ‘content’ a person can remember at one time.

Of course she had to point that out. She always likes to point out what she knows in any situation where it makes another person feel small.

Rather than getting upset, my kid looked at her and said, firmly, “Yes. So what is your question.”

My husband and I responded, “You said that???”

“Yes,” She said, “She was being annoying.”

“Right on! High five!”

“What?”

“High five, man! She deserved it!”

“I also went back to explain some studies showed it could be up to 7 remembered things… but that my project was based on three.”

“So did she say anything back?”

“No. That made her shut up.”

So this… this is the proudest moment I have ever had in my life as a parent.

I know she was showing a bit of attitude back to this kid. I know, perhaps, she wasn’t  being the kindest, and I’m sure the teachers would disagree with me – they would say that she should have been more diplomatic. But I don’t care. This is real life. And sometimes she needs to put these types of people in their face and to send that message not to mess with her.

On Being a Firefighter’s Wife, Part IV

This entry will not be as heavy or serious as the previous 3 On Being a Firefighter’s Wife. It is just something that’s been on my mind lately – In all honesty, it has to do with me more than my husband.

The realization I’ve had is that he has been a firefighter for a few years now. His shift has not changed. During their shift cycle, there are still two weekends where he has to work one or two days. On one of those weekends, he is gone all Friday and all Sunday. On the other one of those weekends, he is gone all Saturday.

The Saturday one I can take. Sometimes, we get invited out to social events with friends and he can not be there. Over all, though, I’ve adjusted to that. Plus, when he comes home to us Sunday morning, for a full brunch and some type of outdoor outing, it’s a great feeling! I can not describe it. It’s just… wonderful! To have him home with us safe and sound.

It’s like a cheesy feel-good family movie. I’m up early to greet him, then when he comes through the door, our dog nearly pounced towards the door, barking and whining as he wonders why it’s taking so long for daddy to come in, our daughter wakes up to give her dad a sleepy hug…

And the small things that makes life happy starts to work its magic… the smell of freshly made coffee from freshly ground up beans, eggs & bacon sizzling in the frying pan (or whatever we’re creating for brunch that day) – Both the smell and sound infuses into this Sunday morning bliss.

Then, that weekend where he works on a Friday and Sunday comes along. It’s not that it’s just 2 days of the weekend. There’s just this bit of empty feeling I get when he is not home with us after a long week of work – I can not celebrate that crazy end of the week with my best friend. Nor do I have him around Sunday… the last bit of peace before the daily grind hits us again.

This empty feeling I get is worse now that my work load and responsibility is so heavy. It’s always been there, though. From the start of his career. I know it sounds so trivial but I thought I would be use to it by now.

And it surprises me that I’m still getting that bluesy feeling when I don’t have him at the start and end of a weekend because I’m such an independent person. I’ve never had any issues doing things on my own – In fact, to this day, I love being on my own from time to time. I continue to leave early weekend mornings when he is home, to get a manicure or pedicure, every now and then – Just to be on my own for small doses at a time. Or reading at a coffee shop – for an hour or so. I never am the type of person that needs to have some one with me when I go out and do or see things. When I’m on a business trip, sometimes, I am on my own for dinner and in the evenings. There’s nothing I love more than to dine somewhere and explore afterwards, completely on my own.

Yes – these Sundays when he is not around. I still am not really getting use to it – And I’m not sure if this feeling will ever go away, either.

If only my uncle were gay…

My uncle is a very intelligent man. And I love him very much. He is definitely part of the family. But there are times, most times, I get tired being around him. On one such incident, was yesterday, after returning from a long drive from Old Montreal – our quick stop from Sutton, QC, where we skied and snowboard for two days.

Old Montreal

Beautiful Old Montreal

White a short trip – one where I didn’t get to do as much as I had planned. One being to sneak away from my husband and daughter, find a cafe to sit and read in peace. Something that has lately become a luxury to me – we made the most of it. Unfortunately, as the decision to stay for 1 night (it originally was for 2 nights) was last-minute, reservations for our prime restaurant choices was pretty much impossible unless we wanted to eat at 9:30 PM. But we did find L’Orginal just in walking distance from our hotel.

L'Original

Wonderful service and food at L’Original in Old Montreal

I had a great time with Doug and Chaeli. Chaeli attempted raw oysters and finished most of her wild mushroom fettucine. I was most impressed with her adventurous eating that night. Doug and I finished a bottle of very nice wine – which left me a bit on the drunk side when we left the restaurant. We also ordered their deer chops for two. I was in complete carnivore heaven.

Anyway, my uncle can be a stubborn, argumentative mule. And while he says he is not sexist or homophobic, he certainly has proven himself to be a complete liar.

Mont Sutton

Last shot of Mont Sutton before leaving

I try my best to bite my tongue in order to keep peace at the dinner table. But lets face it – It’s against my character not to let his little remarks go past me.

Yesterday, I found myself being attacked personally. Every thing I said, he had some condescending remark waiting for me. Everything I said, he had an argument for. And I know why. I had faced it all my life with men like him.

Mont Sutton

I wish I was snowboarding again rather than having dinner with my extended family

When around a man who can not come to terms that his wife wears the pants around the house, he will do whatever it takes to make his ego feel better by attacking the next strongest woman in that room (and in his life for that matter) to try to prove a point.

It’s so childish and tiring. And while I do not fight back nearly as much, I do distance myself from these family gatherings more and more. It’s become too much of an inconvenience to me and my special time to have to endure this stupidity at my expense over and over again.

Le Cafetier

We had brunch at Le Cafetier 3 mornings in a row

What does this have to be with him wishing he were gay? Simply because it might change his perspective on the way he is with others. He could still be sexist. He could still be a jerk. But… He would be forced to have a more open mind given the different challenges he would have faced when he would have come out.

Apres Ski Conversations

Things come to my mind at odd times. Old memories can be stirred from an activity that I’m doing. Or places that I am visiting (both new and old places).

L'Hotel Horizon Bar

Apres ski bar of L’Hotel Horizon (Sutton, QC)

Over a shared bottle of wine with my husband, between appetizers and our main course, he started to talk about his ski patrol days… of how sometimes he misses it but does not miss the commitment level he had to put in every weekend just to be able to afford skiing.

L'Hotel Horizon Terrace

View from our room in the Auberge.

I told him I don’t fully understand this concept – not that I disagree with it, it’s just not something I have been through. The closest I’ve ever been to that level of intense team work was during my dragon boating days. And while I have no regrets of those days, I don’t miss it. I see it as a different part of my life – one that I’m over with. And that’s always been my case. I do something until I’m ready to move on to another phase of my life. I never realized this about myself until I had this conversation.

L'Hotel Horizon Lounge

Auberge louge for reading and board games

And so these times of regrets for me are far and few. I will work hard to get to a level I am satsified of achieving and then it’s on to something else. I wonder if this will happen with snowboarding? It is getting harder and harder on my body with age. And as frustrating as I get at it, I am not yet ready to give-up for downhill skiing.

Le Cafetier

Le Cafetier – wonderful French cafe in Sutton, QC

But I do have regrets. And for some reason, I suppose it is because Doug brought up his days of ski patrolling, where I started to remember Tamara.

Chaeli then asked who Tamara was. So I told her, “She was daddy’s ex-girlfriend. From before mommy.” I added the last statement in quickly to avoid any confusion on my daughter’s part.

Le Cafetier

The fantastic, fresh, organic ingredients – so delish!

I was then finding myself filled with regret. And so, perhaps from 1/3rd bottle of red wine I had in me by then, I said to my daughter, “I regret not getting to know Tamara more.”

She looked at me perplexed, “Why? Wouldn’t that have been awkward anyway?”

“Yes, it was awkward between Tamara and I when we first met. But she tried. I didn’t. I let my insecurities get the best of me. And saw her as a threat.”

“But why does it matter now?”

Le Cafetier

Local artists are supported by Le Cafeteir – such as this gorgeous, mosaic, stained glass window

Chaeli was still very young at the time. Not even in pre-school when we got the call. Doug got the call, actually – from a former ski-patroller. When Doug hung up, I knew something was not right. I asked him what was wrong and he whispered, “Tamara… she took her own life.”

Now, I’m not saying that had I had not allowed my walls to block her out, that her and I would have become good friends. Or that had we had become friends, I would have been able to do something to ensure her life did not end so early and so tragically.

She suffered from mental health disorder. And she tried to overcome it. But even with her life filled with love, a huge community and all the great volunteer work she did, nothing could end her suffering.

I regret for selfish reasons. I know now, as I look back and remember her through clearer eyes and more confidence of who I am, that she was a good person. Who would have touched my life much more had I given her a chance (given myself a chance, that is).

So when it comes to people I can have regrets. Through my actions or no actions at all. I do and can have regrets.