Archive for the ‘bad grandma’ Category

Requiem For A Boob

May 28, 2009

When I was a kid, my mom used to joke about her boobs. “They’re tube socks!” she’d hoot. “I have to roll them up to get them in my bra.”

I would cringe and recoil. “Mom,” I’d hiss. “You’re embarrassing me.”

“Why are you so red, honey?”

“Because you’re embarrassing me.”

“I’m just talking about tube socks.”

“You’re talking about your boobs.”

“Sweetie, my boobs are tube socks because I bore and birthed you and your sister, so if hearing about it embarrasses you, well, tough.”

Then she’d cross her eyes and stick out her tongue at me. I’d run to my room at that point and discreetly peer down the front of my shirt and wonder whether I’d ever have any kind boobs, let alone the tube sock kind. Although I’d have preferred not the tube sock kind, at that point in my adolescence I’d have been happy with just about anything.

Ah, the deluded innocence of youth.

I grew boobs, eventually. They were never all that impressive – I was always skinny, with the type of cleavage that, in nature, attends skinny bodies – but they were there, and they were kind of cute. Perky. The kind of breasts that you never called tits or gazongas or hooters or even just boobs. You referred to them to them in the diminutive – boobies – or in the unsexed abstract – chest. So it was that when I got pregnant and, later, began lactating and those puppies grew – like, seriously, epically grew, like frightened puffer fish – I was both alarmed and thrilled. I had hooters. I had gazongas. I had BOOBS.

For a few uncomfortable but nonetheless thrilling years, I had a rack, and it was spectacular.

And now it’s gone.

Gone, disappeared, deflated, defunct. It’s as if, after watching me wean Jasper and my husband get his parts snipped, Nature herself gave my body the once-over and said well, you won’t be needing those any more, will you? and unceremoniously removed them from my person.

They’re gone now, and I miss them. I miss them, not only because they really were kind of epic – and what girl doesn’t fantasize, occasionally, secretly, about what it would be like to have epic boobs? – but because Nature, in all of her douchey wisdom, did not restore my chest to its modest but nonetheless entirely presentable profile. Nature, being the stone-cold bitch-goddess that she is (the very same one who gave us menstrual cycles and the pain of childbirth and the indignity of random chin hairs), turned my boobs into tube socks. Just like my mother’s.

Except smaller. Small tube socks. The tube socks of an adolescent boy with irregularly-sized feet. Because, yes, one is actually – oh, god – smaller than the other.

Which is why, when I found myself, yesterday, in the fitting room of the lingerie department, desperately trying to find a bra into which my breasts would not just disappear like a pathetic wad of crumpled tissue, I lasted all of three minutes before bursting into tears.

It’s not that I want – what are the kids calling it these days? – a bangin’ bod. I’d be happy with a bod that just pinged a little. I just want to not to not look in the mirror and cringe. Which I know goes against everything that I said a few months ago, but a few months ago I had boobs. Muffin-tops and extra ass-padding are one thing when you have the upper curves to balance everything out. They’re quite another when your upper body looks like a deflated pool toy.

I’m straining to accept this new incarnation of me, to learn to love it as I’ve learned to love all the other incarnations. But I am finding, now, as summer approaches and I wrap my head and heart around the fact (is it fact? is it? I am still struggling with this) that I will have no more children, that I am still, in my way, vain, and that I want my beauty back. Maybe not the same beauty, the same body, the same sweet boobs of youth, but something, anything, that makes me swell with just a little bit of pride when I look in the mirror.

Or maybe just a tit-inflater. Anybody got one of those?

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Monday, Monday

March 16, 2009

I have typed six paragraphs this afternoon. I have deleted them all. I have deleted them all because they all said the same thing, and the thing that they said was boring and stupid and self-obsessed and whiny and I couldn’t decide whether or not I was willing to indulge in any more self-obsessed whining in this space and so I kept retyping the same blah-blah-blah-tired-malaise-blah crap onto the screen and then erasing that same blah-blah-blah-tired-malaise-blah crap because, really, who wants to read about that? Who wants to write about that?

Bah.

So I decided to spare you my melancholy. Instead, I’ll just direct you to some better reading, and go take a B-complex multivitamin:

1) When grandmothers get mad: my mother, frustrated and angry with the New York Times, lets loose on her own blog. (Yeah, you heard me. She has her own blog now. She needs encouragement, so please visit.)

2) You think you’re stressed out? Marital discord and sexual abuse and frustrations about babies having babies are being discussed over at the Basement. (Remember the rules over there, people: comment nicely. You’re free to disagree with opinions, and tough-love is welcome, but it all needs to be dealt nicely. Civilly. Respectfully.)

3) What do Jim Carrey, Pam Anderson and I have in common, other than a troubling propensity for oversharing? We’re all Canadian. So are all these bloggers. Check out our new project (it’s still, like, totally in beta, but you should still visit, and cheer us on!)

4) Or, just shut your computer and take a nap. That’s what all the cool kids are doing.

All About My Mother

March 6, 2009

When my nephew, Zachary, was about four years old, my mother pulled a prank on him. This was not at all unusual – according to my mother, children only become fun once they’re of an age to be messed with, and her relationships with her grandchildren are guided by this rule – but this particular prank was pretty epic. She staged an alligator attack in one of the closets in her home – complete with stuffed alligator and screaming granny and arm pulled under sleeve to simulate dismemberment – and Zachary was, I do not exaggerate in saying, alarmed by the whole spectacle. Thrilled, too – he talked about it, delighted, for months – but in the moment, mostly alarmed. And mad, in that adorably outraged manner that only small children can effect.

You, he said, pointing at my mother, are BAD. She just laughed.

She is bad, I agreed. She is very bad. She’s your bad grandma.

No, he replied, stamping his foot and pointing an accusatory finger at me. She’s NOT my bad grandma. She is YOUR BAD MOTHER.

And with that, a parenting philosophy was born, and a blog predestined.

My mom has always been a bad mother. Not in the neglectful sense: she was, for most of my childhood, a stay-at-home mom who baked cookies and led Girl Guide troops and did crafts and told hour upon hour of bedtime stories (and lunchtime stories, and camptime stories, and going-for-a-walk stories, and riding-in-the-car stories…) It’s just that with everything that she did, she put her own enjoyment of the activity at the forefront. Childhood, as she understood it, was a time of fun and magic, and dammit if she wasn’t going to take advantage of that for herself. She’d waited a long time to throw herself into motherhood, and she wasn’t going to waste the opportunity by approaching the whole thing as work. Child-rearing, in her view, was just one long exercise in applied fun and amusement. So it was that the cookies were sometimes made in ridiculous shapes (don’t ask) and the crafts were more often reflections of her own interests and obsessions (during the tenure of Pierre Trudeau as Canadian Prime Minister, who she loathed, we made something that she called TURD-ohs, which I’ll leave to your imagination) and the stories often took perverse but fascinating turns (it was a long time before I understood that my sister had not been found in a pickle patch and that my bum wouldn’t fall off if I unscrewed my belly-button.) She took delight in surprising us and startling us and making the world seem like an unpredictable and fascinating place, filled with benevolent but arm-nibbling monsters and tyrannical fairies and and friendly but overtaxed families of pickle-imps and tiny, turd-like goblins who carried placards decrying the rule of the Liberal Party of Canada.

It was awesome.

I knew, from childhood, that I wanted to be a mother just like her. And I knew from the moment that Zachary called her BAD that that meant being a bad mother.

Which is what I’m trying to be, with some success, I think. She, in the meantime, has moved on to fully embracing her role as a bad grandmother, as the New York Times reported yesterday. (Yeah, you read that right.) Which means that she’s still all about the fun and the games and the perversity, but also that she’s doing it on her terms. And those terms follow this principle: it is, in anything other than extraordinary circumstances (and she does, for the record, grandma-up if circumstances demand it), only about the fun. She’s not interested in being an on-call babysitter (she loves to spend time with her grandchildren, but refuses to regard it as a duty), she’s not interested in changing diapers (been there/done that) and she’s not interested in having her grandmahood defined according to any conventional, matronly terms. The great thing about being a grandmother, in her opinion, is getting to have all of the fun with little of the labour, and she takes full advantage of that.

Which, again, is awesome, but – as I told the New York Times – it’s also a little frustrating, sometimes. I love that my mom is something of an iconoclast, that she’s independent and contrary and entirely forthright about who she is and how she wants her relationships to work. But I would be lying if I said that I didn’t wish, sometimes, that she was the type of grandma who swooped in and gathered babies to her chest and shooed me off to have a nap while she changed diapers and made lasagna (she makes awesome lasagna, by the way), that she were the type of grandma who demanded babysitting duty, who wanted to just move in and help – or, at least, fly out regularly to help. I have, at times during my pregnancies and my post-partums, just wanted my mommy to step in and make things all better, to just take over and be the apron-clad grandma who tutors her daughter in the ways of motherhood and offers free babysitting on the side. But she’s not that – she’s always been more of a hug-you-warmly-stroke-your-head-and-help-you-figure-out-how-fix-things-*yourself* kind of mom – and she’s always been clear about that and never made any apologies for that and I can’t help but think that she wouldn’t be the awesome bad grandma that she is if it weren’t for that.

My tutelage, at the knees of my mother, in the ways of motherhood has always been about this – this spirit of unconventionality, this emphasis on encouraging independence, this insistence upon doing things, whenever possible, out of joy rather than duty, this celebration of being, in some ways, bad – and I do that education an injustice if I demand that my mother be, as a grandmother, anything other her own bad self.

So I’ll manage without the free babysitting and the unsolicited domestic help and the demands for more time with her grandchildren, and let her get on with that bad self.

And I’ll get on with mine.

(Am leaving the family for an overnight trip to New York tonight, which is awesome, but, also, terrifying. I’ve never left Jasper for more than a few hours – and he’s never gone more than a few hours without the boob – but we figure that the break will be good for him and for me. We’re right about that, right? Right? Am freaking out a little bit.)

*Photo by Arantxa Cedillo (who so graciously overlooked all the mess in my house, and who sweetly exclaimed over my copy of the Todo Sobre Mi Madre film poster, thereby making me feel a little bit as though I’d made up for being a slob) for the New York Times