mothers

In ALL, NEW YORK by Stephanie Klein30 Comments

My favorite part of the weekend was sitting in the dark with my niece-to-be who already calls me "Aunt Stephanie."  We sat on the bathroom floor with a Disney view-master that projected the images onto the tiled bathroom wall.  I read the story of Sleeping Beauty.  "Wait," I said, "Did you know Aurora was betrothed to Prince Phillip?"  I had no idea Sleeping Beauty’s name was Aurora or that she was in an arranged marriage.  I needed to brush up on my Disney, and quick.  I expected her to reply, "what does betrothed mean?"  Instead she said, "can we skip the part with the witch because she gives me nightmares."  I love this.  Love story time with projectors and fairytales with attentive ears and eyes.  Dimples and giggles.  I want to be a mother.  I’m happy being an aunt. 

It’s Mother’s Day, and I’m in New York.  Truthfully, I didn’t want to come back, but there were plans to be had.  A bachelorette party Friday.  A wedding (for a different bride) on Saturday.  Mother’s Day Sunday.  I was looking forward to seeing the people, catching up, and the hugs, but I wasn’t ready to come back to Manhattan.  "I’m not settled enough yet."  It’s strange, wanting to miss New York.  "I haven’t been away long enough.  I don’t want to keep coming back.  I want to be away for a long time and return giddy to be back."  But here I am, in Manhattan, at 10pm (NY Time) wondering where I should eat.  If I were gone from New York longer, I’d know what to have, because I would have missed it.  I’d want a gray’s papaya dog or pizza, or lamb with yogurt from Ali Baba.  I’d have a have-to-have list and I’d cross things off.  Now my to-do list consists of eyebrow threading (since I don’t know of a place in Austin that does this), a bikini wax with my Russian chick, and shopping at Pookie & Sebastian (shipping the clothes so I needn’t pay sales tax). 

I feel kind of sick, like I have a fever or a headache, like I’ve been crying all day, except I haven’t.  I miss my family.  I miss my mother and my sister’s laugh, and neither of them are in New York.  What I miss most is making salad together in the kitchen, with wine, and some music my mother loves and Lea and I can tolerate.  I miss hearing Lea talk too much without a point, and telling her so.  That’s who she is.  And I accept her, just as she is.  It’s annoying, but I live with it.  It’s what I love about family, how we just at the end of the day chalk up "she’s always late," as who she is.  Even if the "she" in that scenario is "me."  People just know that I’ll be late to things.  My family knows.  They’ve stopped trying to change me.  We’re all happier that way.  I miss that, the way we get to have our way, each of us, as if we’ll never change, because that’s what family does.  It allows you to just be who you are and have always been.  People wish you might change but at the end of the day, they just deal. 

I miss the way we’re the same, the three of us.  We speak the same way, like the same things, and do all the wrong things exactly the same way.  Lea and I are lazy and assume things will just work themselves out.  If it matters, we’ll get to it sooner.  It will get done.  We don’t worry.  We’re called irresponsible and lazy.  And we just shrug our shoulders.  It’s who we are.  It has worked out fine so far.  Until you’re in a relationship.  I’ll leave that one alone today.

I want to be near my family because they just know who I am and deal with it.  "That’s Stephanie; it’s just who she is, always has been."  I think what I love so much about my family is no one expects anyone else to change.  We just bump into each other sometimes, but overall, we all exist and are close and we love deeply.  So what if Lea is a lazy, needy, pest.  Big deal.  So am I.  My mother lets us be who we are; it’s what mothers do.  Well, actually, it’s what fathers should do.  Mothers teach their girls who to be.  By example.  By showing them how to put a napkin on their laps.  Mothers can be critical of their daughters.  Fathers shouldn’t be; it’s not their role.  They should love unconditionally and make their daughters feel special and invincible.  I’ll probably have all boys and wonder what I should be teaching them: to walk on the outside bits of street when with a girl, to stand when she excuses herself from the table… no, those are things fathers teach to their sons.  I’ll need to not turn them into mamma’s boys (something far worse than the uncircumcised penis), and somehow teach them to one day ignore their parents wishes and live their own lives… much like Sleeping Beauty would have had to do, had that stranger with whom she danced in the woods not turned out to ultimately be, indeed, her said betrothed… Prince Phillip.  I wonder why Disney threw that whole arranged marriage thing into that story anyway.  If I have children one day, I’m going to ask them to think about this.  I want some sort of an answer and can’t think of one on my own.  Children are wonderful that way. 

Comments

  1. Stephanie,
    You are turning soft in your writing, and I think that is a good thing. You seem less concerned with material things. I am growing to like you. You have changed my mind.

    I look forward to reading more, and learning more about who I think the real you is.

    Thank you.
    Another Stephanie

  2. i loved this post. children ARE special that way. :) ..i just wish my family wouldn't try to change me so much.

  3. Fairy tales have the Boy /Girl thing right. That's why they're called Fairy Tales.

  4. Welcome back….it only for a short visit. Great piece on mothers and families. Thank goodness they know us for who we are….not what we should be. Visit again soon!!!!

  5. I understand about the visiting before there is something to miss–almost like graduating and then coming in for that year's homecoming. You aren't far enough from it yet, so it just has this strange air about it, like you aren't quite in place, aren't quite out of place, and yet still, have no place to really call "home", at least for the moment, because everywhere feels like purgatory.

  6. Shaneela at Paris Designs on North Lamar at Rundberg does excellent eyebrow threading. Her number is 837-3781. $5 per eyebrow.

    On another note…[happyhours] Austin Newbies Volume 3 – Austin Newcomer Happy Hour for Ages 25-35 at Little Woodrow's (6-8pm) from Austinist.

  7. Wonderful thoughts, what family is. It takes some doing, to create this kind of thing. It takes thought and love. I've tried to do it with mine, and I'm happy to say, so far so good!

  8. When deciding what moms should teach sons – from personal experience – it's teaching him the things that will make him a wonderful husband, a patient father, a gracious human without making him a sissy. It's undoing what his father thinks is appropriate (burping in public and laughing hysterically), and teaching him a more civilized way (burping when you're out with your buddies – not around women you're trying to impress). It's one of the best things about divorce – this ability to help him be a civilized person and the ability of being able to send him to his dad a couple of weekends a month to learn all the boorish and disgusting behavior that is, after all, boy.

    Travel safely. Stay well. You're doing so great!

  9. Not to nitpick, but Disney doesn't write any of the fairy tales. They're all adapted from ancient tales, mostly to keep children from wandering into the woods. For example Snow White was based on Schneewitchen, a German tale. Same basics, but I think Disney and producers were more apt to stick to the story rather than taking liberties outside of removing violence. The end of Schneewitchen, they invited the wicked queen to their wedding and made her wear iron shoes and and dance on hot coals till she died. A pleasant tales for children.

    "What the hell is wrong with German people?" – Stan (South Park)

  10. Ah, yes, fairy tales. I have a six year old daughter (the one true love of my life). I always, always read her a bedtime story, so I've become quite acquainted, for better or worse, with fairy tales and with children's literature in general. About this one in particular: The fact that Aurora (or Dawn) meets and falls in love with the man who was already her predetermined mate is typical Disney happenstance. But I like the names of the fairies (I hope I get this right): Flora, Fauna, and Merrywether. And the evil fairy, of course, is Maleficent. Some deeper questions to ponder: Why can an evil wish not be negated by a good one, but only mitigated? Why do the fairies, who work so hard to sequester Aurora in the forest, away from the evil Maleficent, bring her home to the castle precisely on her 16th birthday, the very day that she is to suffer the outcome of Maleficent's curse? I mean, why not hide her for a few more days so that the curse can no longer come true? Well, I guess that fairy tales are meant to be enjoyed and not scrutinized. Still, when living in the forest (to invoke another fairy tale), one would do well to avoid ingesting any pretty red apples left on one's doorstep…

  11. "It's undoing what his father thinks is appropriate"

    It's really about balance, and not necessarily 'unteaching'. A father's job is teach his son how to fight, a mother's job is teach him when to fight. A father's job is to teach his son not to show emotion, and a mother's job is to teach when it's okay to show emotion, and when it isn't. To teach a boy all of one at the expense of the other doesn't work.

    I'm not quite show how the girl thing works, but a good place to start is to let your daughter know that you will protect her from all threats at any cost.

  12. I have recently been wrestling with this fo a while in my mind. To what extent does one ask another to change and to what extent does one just accept. What if the thing that you are asking to be changed is the other person constantly redefining the terms of the relationship – a request to end the instability. It's confusing because no one can ever change anyone else. I've decided that all you can ever do is express your dissatisfaction and accept as much as you can accept and be willing to walk away when you've been asked to accept too much.

  13. This is the first time I've ever thought about Aurora having an arranged marriage to Prince Phillip. I guess that doesn't enter into most 5 year old minds.

    I think it's great that your family accepts you just how you are. I'm still trying to get mine to do the same. They try, but they're just not quite there yet.

  14. WTF is eyebrow threading?! Sounds like something the muppets would do. Somebody please enlighten me.

  15. It's funny the little things we miss about family. I definitely miss the unconditional love I get.

  16. "Lea and I are lazy and assume things will just work themselves out. If it matters, we'll get to it sooner. It will get done. We don't worry. We're called irresponsible and lazy. And we just shrug our shoulders. It's who we are. It has worked out fine so far."

    I'm like that as well, much to my parents' and siblings' chagrin. I call it the "going with the flow" approach to life; sadly, I would be the first to admit that, in my case, going with the flow all too often means I'm merely standing still.

    At least you and your sister share qualities like that. Mine is the complete opposite, which makes for tension sometimes. =)

  17. With four girls and being a one time Disney Store manager … we have had our fair share of those fairy tales. I try to tell my girls that they deserve to be a princess one day and that any man should treat them as such, however, they should also treat him like a prince! It works better that way, although I do agree with your earlier post that a man should love his lady just a little bit more! I have that wish for my girls … excellent post!

  18. new cover for the book?
    i like it. lots. did i miss that update?
    hmm…good choice, although i did enjoy the first.

    looks like all is well sk. =)

  19. Uch…tears. It's a good thing I am about to go to bed and not leave for work…my makeup would have been all over the place! Anyway, I am assuming that you talked to Mommy. Was she mad this year?! I didn't get to talk to her 'cause I had to work…which sucked. Talk about a boring day. Well, I have off tomorrow (Tuesday), so I am sure that I will try calling you. It's 5:15am, so who knows when I will wake up. And hopefully you will have some time to listen to me ramble. Oh, I miss you so much…when are you visiting me?! SLUT! Ok, I will talk to you later…and I love that road rage book from Chris…let him know. Has anyone held up one of those signs to you?! Ok, I swear I am shutting up! Love you- The BALL!!!

    I miss Linus! I can't take it! I need a pet.

  20. Interesting post.

    Made me think of my "family" – my parents split up when I was 5, I was the only child out of that marriage, and they both re-married and had children. Let's just say that my family disintegrated when I was 5 and I always thought I would only ever feel part of a family when I had my own.

    After reading your post, it made me realize, that all along I had a family – just not the conventional kind, not the kind that is related to you by blood.

    Oh, and Joey B. – your last paragraph brought tears to my eyes. That, you see, is all you need to do. I hope you have a daughter, already or some day.

    I'm nearly 30 and I will forever be Daddy's girl, even though I didn't get to live with him. My Mom is probably my best friend, although she was never much of a "mom".

    Funny old life…

  21. Pete, nothing is wrong with the german people, we`re not more or less crazy than others. But I agree, some tales are really strange. Whenever I read one of them, I think there must have been some interesting drugs a few centuries ago ;-)

  22. Fairy tales as they were originally conceived have nothing to do with fairies or happiness. They were meant to keep kids out of the woods and out of trouble — what better way to do that then scare the shit out of them? ;-)

  23. Stephanie, what the heck is eyebrow threading? I thought I was on the cutting edge but I don't know about this one….

  24. They may do threading at Vanity Salon in Austin.
    I love that place, and have zero financial connection to them, just a somewhat-envious-that you-are-there-and-I-am-not recommentation.

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