Friday, September 3, 2010

Actual Conversation

Back story. The Matron is on the phone with her mother-in-law, just checking in.

Matron: "Yes, that's right. Things are really busy. I feel like I'm doing half of everything -- half teaching, half writing the book, half parenting. Three kids, tenure track, book contract, theater for Scarlett, new high school, new junior high, the 60 lb puppy who eats laundry--- but I have about four hours a day for the domestic stuff because of the job. And then there is cleaning. I'm also co-chair of the Parent-Teacher Organization. I'm totally strapped. Does that sound as pathetic as I think it does?.

Here, the Matron waits for support and sympathy. Like, ' wow, I know you have so much on your plate.' She really wants someone to say '' Oh, honey, you're amazing. You're doing so much -- you ARE the rock star!! hang in there." That's what she wanted to hear. And maybe be handed a beer and a pill of indiscriminate origin.

Instead. . . .

MIL: "When I was 26 years old, I had a 3 year old, a 14 month old and a husband who thought 'helping' meant putting his beer bottle in the sink. And there were many beer bottles. Then I gave birth to twins -- one boy, one girl(reminder, you're married to the boy). So here I am with a 3 year old, 14 month old, and twin newborns. Remember, this is when men did nothing. But drink beer, in my case. I was lucky if he scraped a plate or patted a child's head. One week into the four children, with 2 hours of sleep and up off and on all night with the twins --and the 14 month old who was scared and sleepless -- I feel to my knees at 4 in the morning without any sleep for two days and no food --and a baby crying in the background and the toddler awake again -- and prayed to St. Anne, the patron saint of mothers. I begged her for help and strength. I begged. I was on the floor, crying for the strength to continue. You know what happened? The spirit of St. Anne came and descended upon me, filling my heart with the Holy Spirit and my body with strength. I stood up and was never tired again.

Significant Pause wherein the Matron understood she was to fully appreciate the significance of this moment, both for her MIL and for her considerably lesser self (as someone who has no direct line to saints).

Matron: "You stood up and were never tired again? With a 3 year old, 14 month old and newborn twins? Never tired again?"

MIL: "NEVER TIRED AGAIN."

Matron: "Do you have a cell phone or email address for that saint?"

15 comments:

Michele R said...

Well. In comparison, the Matron has more on her plate.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom!® said...

For the first time in 17 years, I now fully appreciate that my MIL is an atheist.

XO

Nora said...

They never heard of birth control back either, did they?

MJ said...

I could never have married in her generation. There would have been absolutely no way that I could have tolerated the division of labour.

That said, she likely had more community support (&, not to mention, less parental expectations then as there are now) which would have reduced the workload. For example, my grandmother used to send my preschool mother with her 2 older siblings to the river to play every day after breakfast with a direction that they were to return for supper. They took no lunch. My mother would likely be apprehended by social services if my grandmother did the same thing now!

Anonymous said...

Oh Honey, you are a rock star beyond all measure!

Now go drink a couple of beers on an empty stomach for full therapeutic effect.

Cindy in Walla Walla

jaruuds said...

Wow. I feel similarly overstretched, though more in the way of your MIL than you, as my kids are younger. And I've been wondering why it is that family can be so utterly unhelpful. But your MIL takes the cake. At least I just get apathy.

SUEB0B said...

OMG your MIL is my exboss. You could NEVER top her and she never had any sympathy. It was always all about HER.

*m* said...

Does St. Anne handle lice?

Cecile said...

Oh my...

Hang in there. You'll make it in the end, because you are formidable. Can't you bully the MIL into helping ? Seeing as she's NEVER tired. *insert sardonic grin*

Daisy said...

I grew up watching my parents demonstrate the "2nd shift" theory. Mom and Dad both worked full time. Dad came home, picked up the paper, and lit his pipe. Mom came home, made supper, cleaned house, did the laundry.... I told my fiance (now husband) that if he pulled that kind of trick, he'd be single. Fast.

To do it with four kids? Yikes.

Anonymous said...

MIL's seem to be notoriously unsympathetic, or atleast yours and mine. Mary because no one said it, I will! " You sure have taken on an awful lot but I know you will be able to manage everything in due time. You are strong, resourceful and smart." Just make a list everyday with everything in descending order of priority. What ends up @ the bottom undone, either doesn't happen or gets moved to the next days list.Works for me, and I get NO help from the MIL factor! Another helpful thing I have learned is to say "No, thank you for thinking of me but I couldn't possibly take on one more thing".
Makes it clear you have reached your quota and there is no room for debate!Good luck! Bramble

Ulrike said...

OMG, one of my pet hates is when you want sympathy but the person you are seeking it from insists on being the perpetual centre of attention, always with the better story.

Anyway, 2 things:
1. I think you are legendary.
2. Nice comeback.

And if you did get the email or cell phone no, can you please pass it on?

kcinnova said...

Oh, honey, you're amazing. You're doing so much -- you ARE the rock star!! hang in there.

And also: You are doing so much more than she did. Sure, she had 3 kids in diapers and a husband who was incapable of helping. But she didn't have any responsibilities outside of her home, and you do!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

That? Is the power of prayer and faith, eh? I laugh at how different our lives are from our mothers'--much of that difference is a matter of choice, but even so, I conclude that "good ole days" are mythological.

Rebekah said...

Snort. St. Cocaine or St. Diet Pills, methinks.