Sunday, May 11, 2008

My First Mother's Day

May, 1978. We were living in my mother-in-law's duplex in Minneapolis. L was in the middle of a 15-month Business Management course at the Minnesota School of Business, while working nights microfilming traveler's checks. I was baby-sitting our 13-month-old nephew for $1/hr. I also did all the sewing and mending for the entire family, in exchange for car repairs and other traded services. I also sewed all SME's clothes to supplement her wardrobe of hand-me-downs. L and I did all the yard and maintenance work on Ma's dilapidated duplex, in exchange for rent. We were living on less than $500/month, but we were ecstatically happy with our newly formed little family.

SME was 4-months-old and had just popped her first tooth on May 4th. Teething was an ordeal with SME. Each new tooth was accompanied by 104 degree fevers and severe diarrhea, which resulted in nasty diaper rash. By Mother's Day, SME had recovered from her first bout with teething and was a bundle of cooing, smiling, beautiful baby! Motherhood has always been my proudest accomplishment, and I was bursting with pride, and love, on my first Mother's Day.

My sister-in-laws planned Mother's Day. Since it was the first time in years that all 3 brothers and their families lived in the same city, we would make Mother's Day special for my MIL. That sounded like a lovely idea to me. Dinner would be a potluck. My contribution would be potato salad and my homemade baked beans. No problem! My MIL's contribution would be paper plates and silverware. Her boyfriend supplied a case of Fox Deluxe beer at $3.33/case, which I was in charge of chilling.

Mother's Day dawned beautiful, clear.....and HOT! I awoke early to turn on the crockpot full of beans that had been soaking all night. Then I peeled the potatoes I had boiled the night before, while boiling the eggs for the potato salad. Our east-facing kitchen quickly became an oven!

By noon, I had 2 gallons of potato salad chilling in the fridge, a crockpot full of beans simmering, the prepratory dishes washed, and a baby fed, bathed, and put down for a nap. L followed his normal Sunday routine by sleeping in, followed by coffee and the Sunday paper.

The festivities began at 3 p.m. We crammed 7 kids and 8 adults into Ma's tiny apartment. It was then that I discovered what my sister-in-laws contributed to our dinner. One brought a tray of cold cuts and buns. The other brought a store-bought cake and packets of Kool-Aid, which I had to mix up. Not much effort involved on their part, was there? I spent the rest of the afternoon running up and down the 2 flights of stairs to our apartment hauling beer, food, and Kool-Aid. The rest of the time I was trying to keep rowdy nieces and nephews from destroying the house, or running out in traffic, while their parents totally ignored them.

By 6 p.m. I was hot, exhausted, and more than a little miffed that L hadn't acknowledged my first Mother's Day AT ALL! It was then that the final blow fell. My in-laws decided that it would be a lovely idea to chill out in a nice, air-conditioned movie theater. Ummm....yeah.....but....what are we gonna do with the 7 kids? "No problem! You're so good with the kids, that I'm sure you wouldn't mind watching them while we go out for the evening." RIGHT; I wouldn't mind watching my 4-month-old, PLUS a 7-month, 13-month, 2-yr, 5-yr, 8-yr, and 11-yr(mentally challenged pervert). in our 3 room oven of an apartment, while you sashay off to the air-conditioned movie theater! NOT!!

I was STUNNED! I didn't say a word as I retrieved our dirty dishes and SME, and retreated to our apartment, locking the door behind me. I was sitting in front of the open kitchen window, bathing SME in my tears as I nursed her, when L appeared half an hour later:
L: What's up? You locked the door and the kids can't get in. We're gonna be late for the movie.
Me: WE?!
L: Well....yeah...there's no point in BOTH of us staying here. Why are you crying?
Me: How about it's my FIRST Mother's Day and you haven't even said "Happy Mother's Day"!
L: You're not MY mother.
I'll spare you the rest of this conversation, but suffice it to say that NOBODY went to the movies that night! I'm also happy to say that my Mother's Days have significantly improved over the years.

I don't know who set the dates for Mother's and Father's Days, but I'm certain that it was a woman. My first Mother's Day taught me to celebrate Father's Day in the same manner that Mother's Day is celebrated in our household. What goes around, comes around....mwahahaha...


At 5/11/2008 11:32 AM, Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

"You're not MY mother."

Good God! I would have killed him! I'm glad things have improved since, but after that initiation, I would have had serious doubts...

Happy Mother's Day to you!!

At 5/11/2008 1:53 PM, Blogger Sonja said...

Your husband is lucky to be alive! ;)

At 5/11/2008 5:04 PM, Blogger Jeannie said...

Holy Smokes!

I'd have spoken up to the clan in the first place.

A big "I don't think so" would have been appropriate.

I don't recall my first mother's day. Guess it wasn't so bad.

At 5/11/2008 6:24 PM, Blogger Squirl said...

Everybody's slamming L here, and I can't say I could support what he did. But your in-laws were total jerks. Sounds like they figured they had a slave for the day.

I'm glad your Mother's Days have been so much better! Happy Mother's Day!

At 5/11/2008 9:38 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

WC and Sonja, L and I have often said that we can't believe we didn't kill each other the first few years of our marriage. ;)

Jeannie, I was young and gullible at the time. I've since learned to more than hold my own with the in-laws.

Squirl, "raised by wolves" would be a good way to describe L's family background. Every one of them is from a totally dysfunctional family. Back then, L had no clue what was expected from a husband and father. L's learned a LOT since then, but his family is still pretty rough around the edges.

Does anybody wonder why we choose to live 300 miles away from my in-laws? ;)

At 5/11/2008 10:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No defense...
with loving thanks...seriously to you...I grew up...

At 5/12/2008 6:36 AM, Blogger tweetey30 said...

Lets see here my first mothers day Kora had just turned four months old.. Yes it had landed on May 13th... LOL.. I dont remember what we did.

At 5/12/2008 12:48 PM, Blogger Gardenia said...

OH dear. Well at least your "H" knows you aren't his mother. Mine thinks I'm his mother - with benefits. I have to remind him occasionally that he is a grown up and that means he takes responsibility for bathing (sometimes), washing his clothes - that was after the last girlfriend (that I know of) and a few other chores mothers do. And quit being so angry about working - that's what able bodied adults do! The last few years he has acknowledged mother's day, but he can't win, ticks me off, I want to say "I'm not your mother."

I swear these guys are related - that awful movie thing reminds me of a trip from the in-laws - I was pregnant and throwing up EVERYTHING all of the time, and they sat on butts while I cooked, did all the dishes, etc., etc. for several days, all the while taking care of my two oldest, then went out drinking, and later I found out gave my then twelve year old son pot. Gees.

Some memories are so awful can't be eradicated, huh?

There were years where we would do exactly what you did in the heat with the food - now we would probably tell them where the nearest take out place was....ooops , it sounds like they found it easily.....ahhhh, story of Mother's Day from hell.

My sister and I were comparing Mother's Days and we thought just maybe that the holiday ought to be abolished and something raised in its stead! Its mostly a lot (more) work for us.

At 5/12/2008 2:34 PM, Blogger SME said...

Gawd. That's freakin' awful. Kool-Aid, cold cuts, and Fox Deluxe beer(whatever that is - it's probably nasty, am I right?).
At that age and newly married and all, that was probably overwhelming and hard to say "NOPE" to, but I know that nowadays that dog just wouldn't hunt! It wouldn't just be "Nope", it'd be "&^#$* NO!!!" Heehee.

At 5/12/2008 9:51 PM, Blogger greatwhitebear said...

i was gonna say "well, you're NOT his mother".... but thought better of it!

At 5/12/2008 10:32 PM, Blogger Notta Wallflower said...

Ouch! That story was painful to read. In a way, I'm glad I can't remember my first Mother's Day. It must not have been bad. I hope this year's Mom's Day was good for you. :-)

At 5/12/2008 10:55 PM, Blogger Candace said...

What a hellish Mother's Day. :-P

I remember that my mom and sis came over and we ate something from a restauraunt - Korean or Chinese I think, and that my mom gave me a cool Chinese tray, which I think only recently bought the farm.

I'm glad your Mother's Days have improved since then. Well, I guess the only place they could go was up. :-P

At 5/13/2008 12:54 PM, Blogger The Zombieslayer said...


The thing is, I didn't get it at first (when I was a young one), but now I do. I now realize how hard it is to be a parent.

Good thing L gets it now. And also good thing they didn't go to the movie theater. OPKs suck, and I probably would have gone postal with that many OPKs to deal with. (OPKs = Other People's Kids).

At 5/13/2008 8:50 PM, Blogger Bridget Jones said...

It was Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia (my home town). She wasn't a mom but a daughter, and reallly didn't like the commercialization that Mothers' Day became. She got John Wannamaker (of the formerly huge department store) to back her proposal. Then on Mothers' Day, she ordered lunch at the store and found an item named after 'Mothers' Day'--a salad. She ordered it, dumped it on the floor and left.

Strong minded lady, just like you Tshsmom. Very glad that you stuck up for yourself.

That 'you're not my mother' crap I've heard before from my late dad about my mom. Hated it then too. L MADE you a mom!!! THAT's the rationale. Sonja's right, he's lucky to be alive.

Am really glad that you are a mom, Tshsmom. And that you obviously love the job. ((((Hugs)))) You raised a terrific set of kids.

The in laws, all of them, do not get bonus points for acting so thoughtlessly. Grrr. Glad that L attributes his sweetness to your help. He sure didn't get it from his siblings!

At 5/14/2008 7:57 AM, Blogger Gardenia said...

Well, hope you have recovered - I have too from all the "rescue missions" of the weekend of mom-hood. Motherhood is a great and terrible love isn't it? Never mess with a mom when it comes to her kids!!!! And never load her down with someone else's on mother's day while you go play!

At 5/14/2008 9:40 AM, Blogger VV said...

I was immediately miffed when I read he slept in and then later read the paper while you were up butt early cooking and working to make that event special for everyone. Argh! Also, WTF were your relatives thinking?! Just dump all the kids on you without asking first? OMG. Okay, I'd better calm down. I don't think I would have handled it as "peacefully" as you did. I would have been cussing like a sailor and ripping each member of the family a new one.

My ex and his brother actually pulled something like this on our teenage daughter while she was staying with grandma. They left early in the morning to go golfing. Left a mentally/physically challenged child in a camper and never told my daughter she was to spend her day taking care of this child. They didn't tell her what medications the child needed or when. My daughter already had plans and had to cancel them because here was this special needs child, wet, messy and needing food and meds and no one there to take care of her. To say my daughter was PISSED would be a Gross Understatement. Just what are people like this thinking? Would they appreciate it if someone did that to them?

At 5/14/2008 6:21 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Scrunch, like ZS just didn't GET IT then; now you do. The only family life you had experienced was with YOUR family. They're FAR from a good example! Love you!

Tweets, unfortunately, it's the bad memories that really stick with us. :(

Gardenia, I'd be willing to bet that our in-laws are related!

SME, you got that right!! I've learned that that's the ONLY way YOUR family will listen. They wouldn't dare pull that shit with me now.

GWB, don't make me come over there and kick your butt! ;)

Notta, not remembering is probably better than a bad memory. ;)

Candace, take-out on Mother's Day sounds PERFECT! ;)

ZS, EXACTLY! He just didn't GET IT. I don't expect huge gifts, but I do expect respect and appreciation on Mother's Day.

You would've killed these OPKs! They never had ANY boundaries or supervision. Now they're all in their 30s and totally screwed up. None of them graduated high school, and they've all had bouts with drugs, DUIs, and abusive relationships. :(

Bridge, thanks for the info. I KNEW it had to be a woman. ;)

L cringes now when somebody uses that line. He only made that mistake man.

Gardenia, I'm barely recovered. My parents were a huge PAIN this year, so Mother's Day was far from relaxing. :(

VV, that's the problem with people like that...they DON'T think! Their kids have never been a priority. All they care about is their own comfort. Like L always says: "That's why we live 300 miles away from my family."

Your daughter was obviously the only adult in that situation! That's criminal neglect in my book!

At 5/14/2008 8:14 PM, Blogger VV said...

Yeah, had it been me, and if I thought it wouldn't scar the kid too much, I would have called child protective services and had them come get her for the day and let the dad go pick her up and do some explaining. More than likely I would have called his wife and raised holy hell to let her know what he'd done while "away visiting his sick mom." Golfing! That kind of thinking and my ex (his brother) going along with it, is just a tiny glimpse into why he's my ex and on wife #4.

At 5/14/2008 8:26 PM, Blogger Bridget Jones said...

My M's day was a bit trying too. Had to do the dinner thing two days in a row, and Mom still tried to get me to go over there earlier on Sunday. Not that I don't adore her, I do, but sheesh I don't live there!

What's really sad is that if I were married/coupled, that never would have come up.


At 5/16/2008 5:23 PM, Blogger Gardenia said...

Oh, I hope you get over this Mother's Day. Mine was a bit odd - but for years I never had to worry about in-laws as "H"'s all died early - he is essentially an older "orphan." My mother can be equally obnoxious in other ways.

Younger daughter's marriage will bring a big, huge rollicking family and will bring new dimensions to family holidays I think.

At 5/18/2008 4:10 AM, Blogger Mike S said...

I've lived all my life doing hazardous work and risking life & limb for fun in my 'off' time. However, I have NEVER done anything as dangerous as saying what he said, ever!! It IS a miracle he's alive and you're not serving an 'undeserved' life sentence for killing him. There's a reason it's sometimes called 'justifiable homicide'!!!

At 5/21/2008 3:59 PM, Blogger Cherie said...

Holy smokes!! There would have been a death in my home - well, at least a good scratching.

It seems like you and I have some of the same relatives - what with the descriptions you give of the potluck contributions. How many times have I put together another's salad from the bag of unwashed, untrimmed veggies thrown my way, or, yeah, mixed up the Kool-Aid, while my homemade contributions sit there in their glory, the first things eaten up.

One learns, doesn't one, to adjust. I save my good food for my family and the extended family get the easy to make so-so stuff which they LOVE. Strange.

Fun post, Tshs. Glad I'm able to start catching up a little.

At 5/24/2008 9:48 AM, Blogger tshsmom said...

VV, on the bright side, you can revel in the fact that you aren't living with that asshat anymore! ;)

Gardenia, yup, this year it was MY parents' obnoxious behavior that destroyed the peace of my Mother's Day. :(

Mike, you are a very wise man! It's a wonder that our prisons aren't filled with newlywed murderers. ;)

Cherie, I had fun writing this post too! I tend to forget how far L and I have advanced in our relationship. I think every good marriage has gone through this trial by fire in one way or another. Lasting marriages are built on learning from our mistakes.

The worst thing my in-laws would do is to invite us over for dinner. When we arrived at their door for dinner they'd say: "We're broke. There's no food in the house. What are YOU buying for dinner?"
After running to the grocery store for supplies and cooking dinner in an ill-equipped kitchen, we quickly learned to ask: "What are YOU serving for dinner?" before accepting any more invitations!


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home