Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Parents, Geez.

My parents are awe-inspiring. Really. But maybe not so much in the Leave It To Beaver, Parents Are God sort of way, but in the Oh My God Are These Really My Parents kind of way,

Exhibit A- my mother. Long time friends and former lovers know that I call my mother by her first name in conversations where she is not present. I think it's so that I can quantify her uniquely bizarre acts with a fitting adjective (namely, her name) and also distance myself from these same bizarre acts by not laying direct claim to her as my mother while describing them. But Lord no, I never forget that these things are done by my mother, and in my years of describing them and psychoanalyzing them, I can never fully depart from the fear that they will one day befall me. I almost never call her on the phone, becasue I fear (and know) that it almost never ends pleasantly, especially since we (shock! horror!) moved away from the town she lives in to help someone else in our family. Here is something my mother said recently-

"Oh, God, it's just so hard without you here to have to take me to do things, and I have to do my laundry alone in the laundry room and I fell in the laundry room and there's no one to look out for me and go places and I'm just so lonely and there's no one here for me!"

(Said because we moved 3 hrs away to go take care of an elderly relative and are no longer in town to pick up her laundry and return it clean or take her out to dinner and listen to her bitch about how she has no social life and infer that it's my job to not only do her laundry, but get her a life as well. Never mind the fact that her ex-boyfriend, who helps pay her rent as I understand it, also comes and takes her to his house to do her laundry.)

I am not my mother's mother, or nursemaid, or maid at all, much to her chagrin. She is an adult. She has worked (sporadically, yes, but successfully) in professional type jobs, was quite successful, and is still in fine physical (if not mental) health. Why she can't act like an adult, much less a parent, is unfortunately not beyond me, but still a disappointment.

My father, who was not present during my childhood, is completely different. Our conversations are polite and cheery, with much focus on what I am doing and much backslapping and 'good jobbing' on his part. This is nice, even if he never calls me, and I am always the one that has to initiate any dialogue that takes place. I always enjoying talking to him, because he is overwhelmingly supportive, if a little distant seeming, like a proud therapist trying to keep emotional distance from a client or something. Yet something is missing. He never, ever contacts me first. He is moving out of the country for a time and I wouldn't have known if I hadn't called him. He is missing my wedding and seems nonplussed. He has never met his only grandchild in person, and my son is now three! I try not to take it personally, as I know he's not that close with the rest of his family, and they had a strange childhood, and etc... but I can't help feeling resentful sometimes that he's not more emotive about his only spawn, especially when I find beautiful things like this written on the internet, penned by my stoic and stalwart dad, waxing poetic...

"Well done! Any practical applications for the Mandelbrot and Julia sets? I am a non-mathematician, but the elegance and awe inspiring symmetry of the sets left me with an almost religious thought - that such complexity could arise from such a 'simple' function and initial conditions is mind boggling. Mirabile dictu! I think I've glimpsed one of God's shadows."

...about fractals! I mean, come the fuck on! Fractals are amazing and shit, but where is the love for what your own DNA wrought and wove and created, that's what I'm thinking! Mirabile dictu indeed!

The thing is- my parents have always been this way. My mom has been crazier, and hey, at least I live 3 hours away from her now. My dad has been much, much more distant- I think I had contact with him less than 10 times by the time I was 23, and now we talk almost once a month, even if I do have to call him. Why can't I just accept my parents as they are and not wish they were June and Ward, or a reasonable fascimile thereof?

The thing is- I don't wish my parents were perfect. I think they're both brilliant, and wonderful, and yeah, fucked up, but that's okay. I like that they're different from the so-called perfect parents in that respect. The only thing that I do wish, the only thing that I would change, is that they acted like they loved me best of all, above everything else, because I'm theirs. But I get the feeling that's hard to do when they don't maybe love themselves that much. And that's unfortunate, because even though I bitch about them, even though they drive me nuts sometimes, I really do love them the best of all the parents in the world, because they're mine.