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Posted in Friends

Skills

My friend Curtis asks how my place in St. Clair Shores is, knowing I’m maintaining it from a distance now that I moved closer to work. No more hour-long commutes on I-94 to travel 14.3 miles.

“Fine,” I say.

I go up there a couple of times a week, check things out, throw out junk mail crammed into the mail box. Not much to tell.  He knows the crazy neighbors who were causing me grief were evicted for non-payment of taxes.  No more drama there.  The condo across the way with the red door–where the mother killed and chopped up her son–that door’s been painted white, but the new coat of paint is not something that would interest him.

I’m trying to work at being more conversant. As I respond I think of something more I can say.

“There are plumbing leaks.” Really!? Plumbing leaks? That’s all I can talk about? Not a “sexy” topic of conversation over a martini and a Manhattan.

He looks at me like there’s suppose to be more to it.

My skin flushes. A welted rash forms on my chest.  Why can’t I think of something more interesting?  Why can’t I retain compelling bits of news to share?  Why can’t I have—let alone articulate—an interesting, observant, analytical opinion on some worth-while matter?

On the other hand, I am a little proud that I followed-up my one-syllable response with something.

“What kind of leaks,” he asks to keep the conversation going.

“The sink. Where the flexible tubing comes down from the hot water knob and attaches to the galvanized pipe that’s sticking out of the wall.  That bolt. Water is dripping from the joint at the bolt.  There’s no way to tighten that I can see except if I had a wrench.  But I don’t know if that would do it because it looks tight, feels tight; just that it’s leaking water. I turned the heat back up to above 50.  Maybe the cold made the metal pipe contract, compromising the integrity of the seal.  But then, why wouldn’t the cold faucet line have the same issue?”  I sip my Manhattan.

He focuses on the plate in front of him, pressing on a knife cutting through bruschetta piled high with vegetables and mozzarella while keeping it from sliding off the plate.

“The space between the wall and the sink pedestal is too tight to put a bucket so I tied a plastic grocery bag around the tubing just above the leak to catch the drips. I was afraid as the bag got heavy, it would pull out of position and the drips would run down the outside of the bag and onto the floor. So I put a metal lid—the size of a shoebox— inside the bag, touching the place where drips form so that they would run along the lid, like a trough, directing the water solidly into the bag. Pretty clever, right?”

He takes a sip of martini.

“Why didn’t you just shut the water off?’

Posted in Mother of married man (MOMM)

On being the mother of a married man…

The transition from being your kid’s mom to a MOMM (mother of a married man) can be quite jarring.  You go from being the caretaker, the comforter, the cheerleader, the guider, the counselor, head of your household and breadwinner (for some) to being excluded.

Some feel this more than others.  Some are devastated.  I was choked by it.

I don’t know why and I do know why I was excluded.  Different thoughts/reasons come to mind, all based on things I’ve done, the choices I’ve made, the life I’ve lived, the person I am.  I brought tension into their home just by walking through their door.  My daughter-in-law and I never clicked, and in my book, her behavior toward me has been uncaring.  I just don’t know what to do except to stay away.

When I was at their home, I always remembered to not offer advice (unless I was asked, but I was never asked), to respect that I was in their house, her house, another woman’s domain, not mine.  I feel like I was/am the most un-butt-inski mother-in-law ever.  I was sure I’d be listed as the best MIL ever.  She just doesn’t want anything to do with me; nor does she want me in their lives.

It’s just the way she is.  I’m the way I am.  My son is the way he is.  His priorities are with them, and they should be.

But, gosh, I’m family too.  They and their children are my family.  I don’t see them, nor do I have a relationship with them, including my son.

I send birthday and Christmas gifts to the children.  At one point I asked my son if we could establish a tradition around one of the holidays—Thanksgiving, Christmas, Christmas Eve, a time between Christmas and New Year’s, Easter, or something made up in between.  My son wrote me back in an email no, because his mother-in-law always has these meals and if they were to come to celebrate with me, it would hurt her feelings.

I got the message.