Monday, July 9, 2012

What Might Have Been

Do you remember my list from last week? It went something like this:

1. Clean and mop kitchen.
2. Clean and reorganize laundry room.

That was to be my entire list of things to do for the weekend. 
And guess what? 
I only managed to do the second thing on the list.
I am so lame.

Of course, I was doing other things last weekend. I know it's only Monday but I can barely remember what they were. I think I may have fallen to heat stroke somewhere in there so yes, there was some garden work. And yes, I cooked meals and did laundry and took care of the grandboys and well, you know. 

But finally, today, this afternoon after I got back from town, my feet rebelled. They refused to continue to walk across that kitchen floor any longer until I mopped it. 

My kitchen floor is made of raw pine which is sort of lovely but it's not completely practical. Anything spilled on it gets absorbed and by now, it's easy for stains to hide. Also, because of the cracks between the boards and the grain, this fine, black sand of Lloyd is easily trapped. And when it's this dry, there is so much of it tracked in. 

Ah lah. It was time.

So. I have done some cleaning. I have mopped once. I will mop again. 

I was so tired when I got in from town that I thought I couldn't possibly do anything but lay down but Mr. Moon was going out of town and so I had to make his snack bag and his coffee drink and by the time I'd done that and washed up the dishes and started some laundry, all the while moving very, very, VERY slowly, and he got home, I was starting to feel a bit better. After he left I drank a shot of espresso over ice and I rallied a bit and got to it and my feet are going to be so grateful.

The visit to Mother with Lily and the boys went fine. My mother is at her best with babies. She truly is. And Gibson is the perfect baby for a great grandmother. He is comfortable in almost anyone's arms and all it takes to make him smile with his entire being is a friendly face close to his. Owen knows where the toys are in Mother's little room and he gets them all out and so he entertains Mother, and Lily talks to Mom, and it's good. 

And I finally met with the social worker. 

We had a brief but very interesting conversation. I was honest with her. I did not feel ashamed or defensive. I think that for the social worker, it was part of the puzzle of my mother coming together. 

The puzzle. I have been thinking about the puzzle quite a bit today. I think that even now, at the age of almost fifty-eight, I  am still constantly trying to make all of the pieces fit as to why my mother and I have the relationship we do. I certainly know some of it. It's as if I have the corner pieces fit in and some of the borders, too. But. There is so much which is not yet there. So much of the entire picture I can't figure out. Why I, a woman who is so passionately maternal, who is obviously quite capable of maintaining loving relationships with my own children, who has gone through life seeking out mother-figures (can I tell you that almost all of my best women friends have been the same astrological sign as my mother EVEN THOUGH I DO NOT BELIEVE IN THAT SHIT?) cannot figure out how to love her own mother as a mother should be loved. 
There is that. 
There is also the puzzlement of what happened to my mother to cause her to be the way she is. She claims to have had the perfect childhood. Her relationship with her own mother was close and her relationship with her father was even closer. And he was a good man. I know that. Overbearing and withholding of physical affection and yes, pretty darn self-righteous, but he was attentive to me when I was a child and in my heart I give him great respect. He did truly care to do the right thing as he perceived it. 
So what caused my mother to fall in love with and marry two such extremely damaged and damaging men? 

And then there's this- perhaps I should just quit worrying about the big picture. Perhaps I should just let the puzzle remain a puzzle. And as I told the social worker today, my mother has many positive attributes and I do know that and I do respect that. I have vowed so many times to just take those attributes and concentrate on them and let the rest simply go.

And yet, I have never been able to do that. 

It is quite simply, not my nature. It never has been. 

Owen loves puzzles. He loves to get them out of the box and spread the pieces about and then demand that we put them together for him. He is happy to help put the pieces into place (especially with a stomping-foot) and he is getting pretty good at finding the pieces which go into certain places but mostly, he just wants us to do it for him.

Is that me? 

I don't think so. I know how things work better than that. I went to a wonderful therapist for years and if she couldn't work the entire puzzle for me, then I doubt it can be done. Perhaps I didn't give her all the right pieces? Perhaps I was shameful of showing her the picture on the box in its entirety. 

I don't know.

Well. I'm going to go mop that floor again and I'm going to eat my supper and tomorrow I'm going to take Mother to a doctor's appointment. There is a cognition situation which is a bit strange and also, I am wondering if she is getting enough water. A simple thing but one thing I did learn in that gerontological nursing course was that as we age, our thirst does not keep up with our hydration needs. This is something which is so easily diagnosed and rectified if need be. 

I am so grateful to be given simple tasks. The sweeping and mopping of floors, the cooking of a dinner, the weeding of the garden, the cleaning out of the hen house, the changing of a baby's diaper. These are tasks in which there is very little of the puzzle involved and as such, they are restful to my mind and restorative to my soul.

It must be raining somewhere nearby. The air has gotten cooler, there is a breeze. My kitchen smells of Fabuloso and white vinegar. My feet, in walking across the kitchen floor, even after only the first mopping, smile their desperately-in-need-of-some-new-polish grin. 

I am going to let the puzzle be, scattered on the floor as it is, as it always is, as it probably always will be. And if I figure out where a piece fits, I will stomp it in and if I never figure it out, well, so be it.

My inability to see the whole does not mean it's not there. 

I think I sort of feel like listening to some Dixie Chicks. Especially this song, which I always thought was about one thing but which viewed from another perspective, might quite possibly be about another. Which is what art is all about. For me, at least. 
For me. 


  1. I also obsess about the puzzle and I agree that if I can't piece it together myself and see the whole as it is meant to be, that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Thank you so much for the reminder. I love you, Mary Moon!

  2. Katie- I love you too. It's so odd. I dont really know you at all, and yet, I know we are sisters.
    And that yes, I love you.

  3. I know a family of wonderful siblings and I knew their parents. Each sibling married someone who had significant issues - one to the extent that she and her 1.5 year old baby were actually murdered by the husband. I can't figure it out other than the mother instilling the need to do service. Far-fetched, I know. I always wanted another mother, I still do. There is a hole in me that can't be filled because I am obviously too old to have another mother. It is something I live with and sometimes not so successfully. I am glad you'll let it be if you can't figure it out. There is nothing else to do but concentrate on all the goodness you've created in your own family. You are a hero of sorts - and please don't come back with a snide remark about that. Let me have that.

  4. Oh, honey. I put a big piece of the puzzle together this weekend. Actually it was tiny, but had a huge significance. Maybe it never ends. Maybe the puzzle never gets finished. But I can't stop either and it is sooooo good when something fits into place even if I have to stomp it in like Owen...hahaha!

    And you cracked me up when you said your mother always tells you what a great childhood she had...mine does too and I always want to say "well then, let's trade, 'cause mine was shit!"...

    Thanks for the laugh !
    and you know I love ya' too XX

  5. Anonymous- If I have ever come back to you with a snide remark, I apologize. I don't think there is anything which can fill the hole left by a not-quite-there-mother or a not-there-father. I do not.
    And if I appear as any sort of a hero, well, I can only say that I hope that in reading what I have to say, you recognize what it is in you which is true and real.
    Thank-you for that comment which I know was truly and honestly felt.

  6. All my best women friends are left-handed. Go figure.

    I don't know MM. I feel as strung out and wrung out as I've ever been today. I do know that I have loved knowing you for -what? Five years now?

    Thanks for being honest and real and THERE for me.

  7. Someday we'll get our porch under moonlight talk Ms. Moon. I don't think we'd get any sleep , but we would sure talk...

  8. Ah, Ms. Moon... I sure have missed your wisdom. I am so glad to come back here and catch up with all that's been going on.

  9. This resonates with me. Childhood is so mysterious, memories of it sometimes dim and just plain wrong. My kids frequently come up with stuff that never happened or that happened in a much different way. That's probably part of what makes the puzzle solving so difficult as an adult. Yet there must be some drive to solve that puzzle, because myself and most of my friends work on it too.

  10. SJ- Thanks for being there for ME!

    Deb- We all have our stories, don't we? What a nice dream, to sit and talk. Yes.

    Angie- And it's so nice to have you here!

    Lora- Yes- what is the truth of it? It's so hard to know and perhaps it's just a complete waste of time to try and figure it all out.

    Gradydoctor- I see them as another victim of Bush. Pisses me off, too.

  11. You know why I have trouble with puzzles? Cuz if I mash my thumb down hard enough, I can make ANY piece fit ANY where.

    And when I am done, it doesn't look like the picture on the box.

    It looks like a Picasso.

    Then again, there is nothing wrong with a Picasso, right?

  12. Hey Ms Moon
    - been reading, never commented, but today. It did me a WORLD of good to read your words about your relationship with your mother-but really somehow your writing regularly has big funny sad funny resonance for me, here in my fifties, in australia, still trying to figure out why I can love my family up to their eyeballs and yet still struggle to be kind to my 80 year old mother. I like hearing your voice in my life. It's a wonderful and strange internetty thing to be able to read and laugh and sigh over your words, feeling such a one sided sense of klnship. I could have stayed invisible, but your generosity kick started my own to come out to say hi and thanks.

  13. Maybe your mother never really felt loved. I don't know, but do know that each of us is damaged in some way. I can't figure out anyone else because I am working on myself. That's about all I can handle. Have a good one and enjoy the thunderstorms. They are rolling through here.


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