Thursday, June 12, 2014

My Addled Mother Mind

Things aren't always what they seem to be. This morning I launched into what can only be called, in retrospect, a harangue, about food choices. I was driving my son Oliver to Los Angeles River Camp and sipping coffee and -- let's face it -- pretending that I was actually in control of the situation and that my words would somehow penetrate his busily growing yet not nearly fully formed frontal cortex, and he would realize that eating nothing for breakfast and then packing a sack lunch of a pile of jelly with crackers, an orange and a plum with no protein anywhere in sight was not a good eating plan! And I've told you that a million times! And I'm your mother, and that's what I'm supposed to do! And I'm tired of your grumpiness in the morning, just sick of it! And there's plenty of food in the fridge -- there's turkey and cheese and bread and you can make yourself a sandwich! And you'd better not ask for a Slurpee when I pick you up! And so on and so forth. There was, of course, a steely silence, his still-baby-face profile turned resolutely toward the window. A few minutes passed, during which I contemplated the universe and played with that parenting adage of what will be important tomorrow? next week? next month? in five years? and decided to offer an apology for my out-of-control harangue. I'm sorry I over-reacted to what you packed for lunch this morning [a pile of jam, remember, and some crackers], Oliver. I shouldn't have been yelling at you about that. The steely, look out of the side window prevailed. Silence. Do you accept my apology? I offered, again.

No, he said.

I was going to write about what came next, how I turned into a Starbucks parking lot, gave him some money to purchase one of those plastic-covered boxes of food, how he jumped out the car, ran inside and brought it out. I was going to tell you that he was smiling and said Thanks, Mom. You are the best mother in the universe, and I totally understand how difficult I am, what a pain in your ass, but I know that you love me and that's all that matters now, tomorrow, next week, next month and in five years. 

Things really aren't always what they seem to be, though.

That chicken place? We live in a part of Los Angeles currently near over-run by hipsters. I found the wording of the sign awesome and chewed on the suggestion that chicken might be ordered live or raw for to-go eating. I know, not really. When I drove back by the place after dropping Oliver off, some big truck had just left hundreds of cages, big, fat white and yellow chickens spilling out of the bars, a repulsive, sorry sight for a city girl like me. I barely prefer my chicken pale and yellowish on a tray in the deli section of the grocery store, much less waiting for me to pick out and slaughter. How did I get to be in charge of these three children? From where comes my authority?

These are the thoughts that crowd my addled mother-mind.


  1. I don't know if it helps but I have some version of that conversation with someone in my house AT LEAST once a day. And I've taken to endorsing pizza and things like chicken sandwiches (from home) for breakfast if only to get a little bit of protein in them. And anything with peanut butter.

  2. You know what? Owen mostly wants to eat dill pickles. Period. And it's such a comfort being his grandmother because I can just say, "Fine. Have another."
    BUT. How many times did I have that conversation with his mother about good dietary habits and she feeds those boys so well. So she did listen. And so does Oliver.
    And all will be well.
    I have NO idea what to say about the chicken place. I am a bit horrified or maybe just confused.

  3. I'm reading a book about this right now. It's called The Conscious Parent and it's about how we're not really in charge of our children so much at all. It's illuminating things I've always felt but have never had words for. Anyway. You are an amazing mother. You love your children. That is all that matters now, tomorrow, five years from now.

  4. Dear Oliver. I adore him. His mother too.

  5. Is it wrong that I'm impressed that Oliver makes his lunch?

  6. Oh I hear this. Do I ever. Love you.

  7. my Ty and your Oliver...still

    as I prove I'm not a robot Ty rambles about the FDA and GMOs and Monsanto

    but still he demands taco bell on a daily basis

  8. Michelle! Oh my gosh -- how thrilling for you to pop up here again! I have missed you and your writing for so long!

  9. You have my sympathies. I remember similar conversations and fights. You can tell Oliver though that even though I now know what's good for me, I still don't always do what's good for me. I wish I did.

  10. Oh, you have the authority, all right. No need to doubt it! And I'm sure Oliver is listening on some level, even when it doesn't seem like it.

    I would be tempted to go buy some chickens just for chicken-rescue purposes, though I know that would be short-sighted on my part.

  11. That sweet child. And the way you are able to describe the relationship is like reliving my life 5-10 years ago. It brings me immense joy now when my 20 year old proves to me that she was listening during all of those times I was "yelling at her."



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