Challenges Seem to Come in Threes


Photo: Funny story, we didn’t make it to church yesterday. The Husband swore up and down that church started at 11. When we got there at 10:45, the sign on the church very clearly stated the Holy Eucharist started at 10. Soooo we went to the farm instead. I looked a little out of place in my sundress and what what, but it was still a nice time. Oh well. Next week.


Anyone else notice that my blogging voice gets a little southern when I’m exhausted? I think that’s funny. And Lord knows, I’m still tired.

As I wrote on Saturday, I learned this week that my mother was dismissed from her job and she has decided to return home to Maryland. As a grown daughter, not dependent on my mother, I have little to contribute to what my mother chooses to do, but I’m that she will be leaving. We all knew that her stay here was a temporary one.  I knew that she wasn’t going to stay here for a decade… but she’s only been here for two and a half years, and I learned yesterday that she’ll be gone before the end of the summer.

My mother and I have a funky relationship. I would say that we weren’t particularly close before I became a raging bitch of a teenager, but becoming a raging bitch certainly didn’t make things any better. Going off to college was helpful for both parties, but I feel like I’ve spent a lot of time during my 20’s trying to make up for my past misdeeds (Which weren’t outlandish, but I wasn’t a kind person, per se). Though I would say that we have a loving and warm relationship, I think that mom prefers the company of my sister and she probably has a closer bond with her. I’d been hoping, after producing these two grandbabies, that mom and I would find more things to talk about. They certainly help, but we’re still not where I’d like to be. This is probably one of those things that time will never fix. It doesn’t matter how long she stays up here, we’re probably in the best space we can get to.

All the same, I’m going through a spectrum of emotions: Sadness and anxiety, as I’m losing an important support system. Remorse for not spending more time with  her while she’s been here. Frustration because I couldn’t have more time, though I sought it. And finally, anger, because I know how much my mom has sacrificed for this career, how much she loves what she does, and how talented she is at it.

And I guess I’m feeling angry because my mom is probably the poster child for the “Lean in” mentality, and here it is, biting her in the ass. My mom was leaning in before there was such a thing. She is smart, talented and extremely ambitious. She has a passion, a reverence for her industry and her job. When we were younger, she was either single or with a fairly unsupportive (and relatively unstable) partner, so her pay check was vital to us. But, frankly, if she had been married to a man who was a member of the 1%, she would have worked just as hard and been just as ambitious. It’s not to say that she didn’t/doesn’t love me and my little sister, and that motherhood was secondary to her… I’m just saying that Mom’s drive to be successful was there because of and despite my sister’s and my existence. And I’m not complaining. I’m grateful beyond words.

Where I have found understanding and appreciation for her toils during my youth, I have found frustration in my adulthood. During her time here, we’ve seen mom maybe once a month, and usually only for a 2 or 3-hourish stretch, and she has always been too tired/stressed/anxious to really play with the kids or enjoy our time together. She rarely took the boys for babysitting because she was working on a weekend, or she was on call, or she had an early meeting on Monday so she needed her weekend to get all her stuff done. And when she did, she always tried to convince me that the boys “didn’t like” her or didn’t really want to play with her. It was easier for her to decide that they reject her, rather than to take the time to get to know them and play with them. She was never cold… she just didn’t seem to “lean in” to her grandchildren the way she had decided to “lean in” to her job.

I love my mother. I respect and admire her. That’s why I think I’m so angry on her behalf. When she was busy leaning in, climbing the ladder, trail blazing to be one of few Black people to run a newsroom in general, let alone a Black woman, she was garnering satisfaction for herself, a life for all of us, but she lost something along the way. I’m sitting here wondering what it all got her in the end… having been discarded so out of hand just because some dude decided that he wanted to “build a fresh team” with people of his choosing. Now she’s gotta turn around and find something new, starting over again in her mid-50’s, having skills and experience, but starting from scratch. Does leaning in work for women like my mom? How can anyone expect me to lean into a career when I’m watching it disintegrate into nothing first hand like this?

So now we go back to seeing each other once every 6 months or so. I go back to not having a safety net, though I have been sitting here thanking God for her being here for the time that she has been here. I don’t know how I would have managed the 3 weeks of not being able to live in this house with the boys if mom hadn’t been living so close by. And I probably would have had to deliver Ursa Minor by myself because The Husband would have had to stay home with big brother if not for Mom being here. There are so many reasons why her stay has been a blessing, and that is why I wish I could keep her here longer. Ultimately, though, I want my mother to be happy and to feel successful. I want her to feel like her talents are being utilized and that she is doing something worthwhile. I don’t think that she ever felt that way while she was up here. New England just isn’t for everyone.

And ain’t that funny, because I forgot that New England has funky rules about insiders and outsiders. I was reminded yesterday that I’m an outsider at our preschool and that I’m on the bottom of the totem pole. So when I asked for a co-op role with a little more responsibility, and even maybe a seat on the board, I was smacked down to cleaning the toys once a month and some sort of “special project” categorizing the library books. I’m going to find out more about that tomorrow. Oh, but here’s the extra fun thing: I was put on the Fall fundraising committee, chaired by none other than Peggy. I thought I was gong to cry when I got the call yesterday.

I’m not going to be a brat about it. New England rules dictate that when these things happen, you put your game face and your big girl panties on and you rise above it. New England rules also dictate that you learn the fucking rules better. So now I know: co-op job requests are false choices. You get what you get, and this is what these women think of me. I’m not part of the girls club. I’ll be sure to let someone know that, as the only member of any color in the entirety of this school community, I don’t much appreciate being assigned to toy cleaning. Someone will be hearing about that tomorrow and I’ll make damn sure that it doesn’t happen again.

Challenges come in threes, ya’ll: Playroom (Still needs to be painted, must purchase carpet this week and prices even at remnant shops are just a little outrageous), Mom is leaving and I’m under Peggy’s tutelage from September to November. If I’m a good little girl and I work really hard, something good is gonna come my way, right?

New England Rules say no way. Hard work leads to harder work. Learn. The. Rules. Now.

See you Wednesday. No embroidery means it’s a regular week!

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Haha slow down there Frederick Douglas, I’m sure Peggy had to clean the toys when she first started too 🙂 However if you do find something untoward is afoot, you can serve Miss Hilly a pecan pie from Minny’s secret recipe file 😉

    I know what you mean about your mom. Rebuilding with mine as we speak, not that it was exactly broken; but I am a loner, so parental bonding was never part of my life. And it’s been good; last night we couldn’t stop giggling over a pickle. Life hands you funny things when you need them.

    I’m sorry to hear about your mom’s career, what a crappy deal. Same exact thing happened to my stepfather. He’s losing his mind trying to find work.

    Is that Husband in the picture? He’s adorable!

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      Suuuuuuch points for the Hilly reference, for seriously!! And of course, I’ve been chuckling about it for two days because it is SOOOO true!

      I don’t really know what to do about mom. Indeed, I can’t do anything. I feel bad for folks in their 50s who hit this wall, and it’s scary to watch from a distance. It’s like, here is a person who did everything right and should totally make it… but then you watch them slam into this brick wall. I just have to learn as I watch and support, I guess.

      Yup, that’s The Husband!! Isn’t he, though? He wouldn’t believe it if you told him. I’ll try to snap a picture of him when his beard comes back… he had to get rid of it when he was removing the lead paint because the mask he bought wouldn’t seal properly with his beard. It was a sad day for us both when he got rid of it. 🙁 It’s alright.. it comes back a little bit every day!

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