Mother’s Day is a yearly obligation, like taxes, that sneaks up on me, fills me with dread and guilt, and forces me to tell a short series of little and white, only moderately willful–though potentially disastrous (at least if I get caught)–lies.

I know people who live for these things–these holidays and way-markers on the calendar.  I’ve felt and done it myself–even tried to do it on purpose in the manner of a deliberate outward-turning “lifestyle change.” I know that these things parse the metronomic passage of time into a reliable series of meaningful events, thereby turning the calendar into digestible avocational cycles of preparation, payoff, clean-up, and recovery.  The next life goal and feeling of accomplishment need only ever be as far away as the next major or minor holiday, birthday, or anniversary, and you can set your own cycle period by choosing to observe more or fewer of them, significantly reducing–if not eliminating completely–awareness of mortality and the indifferent siege of time.

It’s all very innocent and understandable and, probably, healthy.

I’m not one of those people.

It dawned on me the other day–very suddenly–that from this year on, I am set to become a Mother’s Day mother.  As I smile and collect my cards and attention and flowers and free brunches, and indeed, feel loved and appreciated, I will be stuffing down a sheepish and bleak feeling, having failed, yet again, to defeat fate and the prescribed machinations of life as dictated by my station as a working class, upper-midwestern white girl.

I will, at least to some and even to perfectly good people who love and appreciate me, become an object of guilt, anxiety, and obligation.  Because that is what gift-buying-and-people-appreciating holidays do to a lot of people.

Even if I’m not measuring out my life in brunch-time grapefruit spoons, the people around me will do it for me,  marking time’s tick-tock by my existence and the existence of many people who, like me, have fulfilled their evolutionary duty (but with whom I enjoy no genuine personal feeling of camaraderie or community).

I will move over to join my own mother on the mothers’ side of Mother’s Day.  It will be just another in a long line of similarities that, for me, are sources of both intense pride and anxious misgiving, since I’m not sure either of us entirely belongs there.

I like getting appreciation and presents and flowers and free brunch.  There’s certainly nothing wrong with appreciating mothers. But my hatred of failure trumps all.  It is imperial.  Consuming.

 

Fuck you, Debbie Downer!  Can’t I just hug my mother and tell you to have an extra nice day without worrying that I might send you into a spiraling existential crisis and premature labor?

 

No.  Because just about anything can send me into a spiraling existential crisis.  I was born this way.

 

I should tell you about my mother.

And me.

The two of us together.

 

I was a surprise.  After a number of miscarriages and the conclusion that there would simply be no more kids, my mom found herself pregnant at age 36 in 1977.  I gave her horrible morning sickness from day one right up until week 42 of the pregnancy.  I perpetrated any number of false labors, many of them well premature, only to arrive a week and some days overdue and nearly die–repeatedly–in the process.

My antagonistic relationship with life was well-established long before I was even a living, breathing, legal entity, and it has not stopped since I became one.

My mother is independent and self-assured.  She is deliberately rational, shrewd and articulate, with an often dark, wry sense of humor and a talent for politics and rhetoric.  My mother is a strange mix of subversive and traditionalist, pragmatist and party girl, full of conviction and integrity.  Less than demonstrative, her considerable empathy and understanding of the motivations of others is well-masked by her command of her own emotions.

Her self-control makes even small fractures in her facade analogous to anyone else pulling a gun.

She’s getting older now, so I can no longer say she complains about sappy greeting cards and other forms of syrupy sentimentality, but for most of my 33 years, that has been the case.

She is disgusted by the women in old movies (and in some of the new ones) who collapse pathetically and desperately against their men’s chests wailing about “HOW CAN I GO ON WITHOUT YOU?!?!?!”

“Look at this codependent creampuff! I’d like to slap her!  Barry, change the channel.”

She is remarkable.  A fierce, intelligent woman whose generosity, concern, and willingness to shield me from soul-sucks and other encumbrances to my innocence, my potential, and my self-worth never left me wanting for the support and confidence I needed to aspire to equal–and higher–levels of ferocity and intelligence.

I was almost always unencumbered, actually.  Some people, especially my sister, would say spoiled.  Moms treat their children who have tried to die just a little bit differently.

As a young woman, my mom went gallivanting (my grandmother’s perception, anyway) off to New York, left one man standing at the altar, married and divorced another, then got pregnant by and subsequently married my father.  This was all well before she was 25 years old.  By the time she was 27 or so, she had a small daughter, had moved back to Minnesota, and had taken in two of her cousin’s delinquent teenage daughters.

By the time I was born, she had kept her little family together through all that, plus endured my dad’s alcoholism, plus engineered his removal to Hazelden in a midnight ultimatum that consisted of two state troopers showing up at the foot of their bed.  He has been sober ever since.

The party-girl is gone from her and has been since long before I knew her.  I have only heard stories.

Of my father having to carry and drag her, drunk and giggling, out of Young Republican Christmas parties.  Of her dancing on tables in bars.

Of the way they met, she beckoning with her finger for him to come hither after a scotch and water or three at a recreation hall in New Haven.

She had to grow up fast.

 

She told me I was not allowed to get married until I was at least 25.  I got married at exactly 25.

 

And no sleeping in the same bed with a boy before marriage.  She would get alarmingly, disproportionately upset about this for a woman whose true losses of composure I could otherwise count on one hand.

I never had the balls, as a teenager, to tell her I’d done the math and knew why this was.  That it wasn’t just because we were Christian or to protect me from the generically understood difficulties of teen and accidental pregnancy. That I knew it was personal.

 

I always sensed that marriage and motherhood left her potential cheated.  That the night in a seedy Connecticut bar that she met my father (my dear and wonderful father) might have made the difference between suburban Minnesota and Manhattan or Washington, D.C.  That she could have been a CEO or a senator.  That in the back of her mind, she knew that.

That she carried it with her.

Her devotion to her family would never let her admit that to herself, let alone me.  She has denied it repeatedly and fervently the few times it has come up, usually when I am tearfully, at least once drunkenly, spewing my own misgivings about the path I find myself on and the what-ifs that will hang, forever and ever, as a result of choices I have made and the choices I am forced to continue making every day as time grinds on and on across years, across generations.

Her eyes well up, and I know it’s not just sympathy for me.

 

I hate that I am writing this.  It is, ultimately, the quintessential uterus contemplation post.  Mothers and daughters and contemplation of the womanly, motherly, and daughterly plight inherent in living in a father’s world–being charged with the bittersweet task of bearing and raising children in it.  Or that is the stage I am obligated to set for this compulsory act of womanly melodrama to make sense.

Woe be unto us.

Unto me.

The post itself represents just another slow, fading step into the faceless, estrogenical masses.

 

It’s tough to know what my mother might say about it.  She might sympathize.  She might furrow her brow and tell me to pull myself together.  “Becky Bernhardt.  That was what we called you when you were little.  So dramatic.”

Plus, I’m pretty sure it’s unamerican to be ambivalent about motherhood on Mother’s Day.

More than anything, though, I worry that my mother’s status as a tragic hero is simply a mental fabrication, some elaborate narrative I’ve concocted to defend against the very likely possibility that my mother,  this woman I imagine to be so smart, so gifted, so exceptional, so formidable and worthy of being somehow avenged through my own successes, might be a giant only in my mind.  That there was never going to be any CEO, never any Washington, D.C.  That by any and all measures unrelated to my deification of her, she is just a rebellious kid who got knocked up in the mid-60s and went on to live a pretty predictable and basic working class life, as would be expected for a rebellious kid who got knocked up in the mid-60s.

That there is no fanfare, no avenging anyone.  There is just brunch.

 

My own daughter hasn’t made me sick in the least.  No false labor yet, and she was planned, materializing just as she was supposed to.  She doesn’t thrash around too much.  I hope for an uneventful labor.  I hope no one tries to die.

I quietly hope she is her father’s daughter.

I quietly fantasize that she is not–that she is another dramatic, wily step up in the spitfire crescendo that has been my family’s women.

Or maybe I hope that my husband’s cool, patient, and mercifully undisturbed personality is the influence necessary for her to truly thrive and make the most of being her mother’s daughter.  That she will avenge me.

 

I hope life agrees with her.

I imagine how my mother must have wished the same for me.

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BECKY PALAPALA is the author of many unpublished poems, diatribes, and terse letters, which she holds captive in a homely tote bag in her bedroom. The poems that escaped can be found in online publication at Strix Varia, Paper Darts, and in other nooks and crannies of the internet. In 2008-2009, she served as a poetry editor for Ivory Tower. After an iliadic battle with higher education, Becky graduated with a B.A. in English Literature in the spring of 2010. She currently lives with her husband, daughter, and dog on the outskirts of the Twin Cities, where she pines for her rivertown home and attempts to befriend the rabbit that lives in her yard.

44 responses to “Life in Grapefruit Spoons”

  1. mel says:

    “codependent creampuff!” lol! nice piece Becky. My parents wanted me to get a degree so I had ‘something to fall back on.” lol. but raising kids is a bit more complex with all the technology and societal changes. I think you will be great! So many “holidays” have become forced on us, its probably only normal to be cynical, even about mother’s day lol.

    • Becky Palapala says:

      Yeah, I don’t know. I was contemplating writing something for this Mother’s Day when the annual cloud of mother’s day preciousness moved in around me about a week ago, and I decided I didn’t want to contribute to that, so I had to ask myself what else I thought. This was it.

      I mean, motherhood is complex, right? Both having a mother and being one. That handoff is significant in positive ways, yes, but also in more dubious or difficult ways.

      It’s okay to say so, I think.

  2. Sarah says:

    I always say we are who we are due to the because of’s and in spite of’s. In the case of my mom, once I truly became and adult (which unfortunately was after two kids, marriage, divorce, selling house) and was able to look at her a bit more objectively with some life experience of my own aiding my perspective, I have been actively working on being someone in spite of my mother. I love her dearly and she raised me the way she thought was right but who she was and the mold and path she tried to lay for me isn’t at all who I want to be.

    Olivia might do the same with me some day. I’ve learned from being a daughter then having one that I don’t want to teach her what is right, what is good, what is best for her. I want to teach her the tools to figure that all out for herself.

    As for the CEO, I have both seen that in my mom (the youngest and only daughter in a poor farmer’s family so never a chance for education beyond high school) and have felt that as a fuck-up who couldn’t finish college, instead skipped most of her classes in her last semester to go meet my soon-to-be husband and father of my kids. Because of my mom, I’m still going to put my full energy and love into being the best mom I can for my kids regardless of what I feel I’ve missed in life. In spite of my mom, I realize it’s not too late to go get those things, so I am.

    Have a great Sunday Becky!

    • Becky Palapala says:

      Because of my mom, I’m still going to put my full energy and love into being the best mom I can for my kids regardless of what I feel I’ve missed in life. In spite of my mom, I realize it’s not too late to go get those things, so I am.

      Well said.

      This is, or has been, my philosophy as well.

      And outside of, even, the perspective of mothers and daughters. That tenacity has no age limit and so on, that I am allowed to keep right on trying and pushing and going regardless of or to set an example for my children and right up until I’m dead.

      But part of me, that part that is so brutally unkind, to no one moreso than myself, is like, “Oh my fucking GOD. What if you ARE trying right up until you die and don’t really get anywhere? How pathetic will that be???”

      I mean, it’s a danger.

  3. “Plus, I’m pretty sure it’s unamerican to be ambivalent about motherhood on Mother’s Day.”

    Color me un-American, then. It’s fine, I guess. I’m not a hater or anything. But I don’t really get excited about having a special day to honor my decision to stay knocked up. I tell my husband not to waste money on cards or flowers for any of the holidays, however. I like to think of this quality as “no nonsense” rather than negative, but maybe I’m fooling myself. This morning, the boys gave me a bamboo plant and a bird feeder for Mother’s Day, because those are things I collect and would have bought myself anyway.

    My son had multiple heart decelerations/stoppages during my 36 hour labor. A group of medical people kept running into the room to flip me around like a beached whale, hoping to move the umbilical cord and stimulate him until his heart started beating again. It was utterly terrifying. I can freak myself out pretty quickly thinking about how poorly my labor might have turned out, so I really appreciated this sentence: “Moms treat their children who have tried to die just a little bit differently.” I’m glad you were a little fighter too.

    Your mother sounds like a really smart and cool lady. Seems like you hit the “mom jackpot” to me. (:

    • Becky Palapala says:

      Well, she is still my mom, so let’s not get carried away with the whole “cool” thing. She still has this very prudish, Church Lady side that kind of disqualifies her, though I understand that it is largely a front she puts on (or at least a smaller facet of herself that she deliberately amplifies) to get what she wants out of the people on the church committee.

      Though, as far as moms go, she is generally down-to-earth, not hypersensitive, not overbearing or mushy or nagging or emotionally needy.

      Especially not about petty things like Hallmark Holidays.

      I really cannot express how much I like this about her, having heard and seen what some of my female friends go through with their mothers.

      It makes me want to do nice things for her in spite of Mother’s Day, rather than because of it.

      I’m glad Miles decided to stick it out. That wacky kid of yours brings me joy on a weekly basis via your reports. I’m going to go ahead and say we near-dead babies are treated differently because we ARE different. In the best way, of course. 🙂

    • Gloria says:

      Oh, Tawni, I agree. Even after I sent a text message to all of the mom’s I know – which was as sincere as it could possibly be. I don’t mind there being one day where I’m prodded to say, “Hey, you know, you’re pretty rad at the whole baby-making, diaper changing, food cooking, boo-boo kissing, counting to ten, not eating your young thing. Kudos.” But I don’t personally have an emotional connection to the day. My boys are with their dad today and not one of the three of them will remember to call me. I don’t feel sad about this. Truly. There was some random Thursday recently where I was watching a movie with the boys, sitting in between them on the couch as they like me to do, because it’s not fair! when mom sits by one and not the other, and Indigo, while looking at the television, threw his arm around my waist, laid his head on my arm, and said, “I love you, mom. I’ll always love you.” And then he kept watching television. Or, like yesterday, when I needed to wake up by a certain time to go and get the boys for Free Comic Book Day, but I nearly overslept, except that suddenly, in my dream world, I heard Tolkien’s voice loud and clear in my head. It said: I love you mom. And then I was awake. It was fabulous.

      I don’t need a day to know I’m loved. Every day I’m with my kids is mother’s day.

      Kumbaya.

      • Becky Palapala says:

        My mom has a similar attitude about Father’s Day. Similar, but different.

        Like, when my dad tries to pull some kind of get-out-of-jail-free or sympathy card about “But it’s FAthers’S Dayeee….” (*whiiinnne*), she just narrows her eyes, turns to him slowly, and goes, “Every day is Father’s Day.”

        It’s like it’s scripted. The same exchange every year.

      • Ashley Menchaca (N.O.Lady) says:

        G, I TOTALLY get this.

        The only thing Mother’s Day does for me is wipe out the guilt. If I want to paint, I will do so without feeling guilty of wasting time. If I want a drink and some quiet time, I will have a drink and some quiet time without felling guilty. Mother’s Day for us, is like many other Sundays. My boys and I do everything we can to enjoy each other’s company. I don’t like gifts bc the extra spending just adds to the stress of being a single income family. Albert knows the little things are what matter to me. He’ll do dishes and clean the bathroom and things like that. Play with Aiden a little more so I can have my quiet time and pina colada in peace. To me, a guilt free day is worth much more than anything that can be purchased at a store.

        Happy Mother’s Day to my favorite ladies!

        • Back at you, beautiful lady. I completely agree about the joy of the one-day reprieve from the constant guilt (I am fueled almost entirely by guilt). As much as I resent being told how to feel and when to feel it, I will concede that it is really nice to have one day where I can be “selfish” and do what I actually want to do. Today I got donuts for breakfast (twice a year – Mother’s Day and my birthday), and hiking time on a local nature trail. I hope you got lots of quiet time and a big pina colada! You deserve it. xoxoxo.

      • Today, my sweet husband felt guilty and apologized for “dropping the ball” because he was going to have our son make me a card and didn’t. I told him to stop being silly. Miles makes me notes that say things like, “My mom is awesome,” and, “I love you, Mom,” all of the time. Sometimes he slides the notes under the door of the bathroom when I’m taking a shower so that I see them there, waiting on the floor as I’m drying off, making me giggle. Sometimes he folds them up and shyly hands them to me. It’s freaking adorable. I don’t need a forced drawing from him or a store bought card. The couch snuggles, spontaneous love notes, and being told by your child that you’re pretty; these simple, little things mean so much more than a card made by someone else.

        “I don’t need a day to know I’m loved. Every day I’m with my kids is mother’s day.”

        Perfectly said, G-Lovely. *huggingyou*

  4. Lorna says:

    I really dig this, Becky. It’s honest and mushy all at the same time.

    I get the feelings of anxiety and guilt of Mother’s Day. I feel it every year when I walk into Hallmark and read all the wonderful words inside the Mother’s Day cards and begin to wonder where I fall short as a mother or a daughter. Like Valentines Day, I feel it to be trite. We should be able to appreciate and love each other, even celebrate, without all the commercialism and quilt. And we should try to do this on a daily basis.

    Your mother sounds like an amazing woman who raised an amazing daughter.

    With all triteness aside, have yourself a kickass Mother’s Day. 🙂

    • Becky Palapala says:

      Thanks, Lorna.

      Man, I hate greeting cards.

      I mean, I don’t get angry at getting cards, and I even give them when I think people find them important, but the concept of them just pisses me off.

      What a waste of $3.

      I don’t even want to think about how many days of my life, cumulatively, I’ve spent standing among thousands of prefab sentiments laboring over choosing the best one, just to have someone recycle it when they get home.

      Not their fault. It’s just that greeting cards are that stupid.

  5. Sarah says:

    On the other hand, there’s nothing like the squeaky voice of a two-year-old saying, “Happy Mudda’s Day.” It will melt the most hardened heart and bah-humbug soul. Things like that *can* make all the pomp and circumstance BS worth the trouble. They don’t always, but they can.

    • Becky Palapala says:

      Well, in fairness, the squeaky voice of a two year-old saying just about anything will melt a heart.

      Have you seen the video of that little kid (I think he was more like 4 years old) doing the Herb Brooks speech from Miracle?

      I’m going to have my 2 year-old recite the household bills to me to make it more pleasant.

  6. Gloria says:

    Look at Becky getting all sentimental and mushy and shit. **reaches out to rub her belly**

    This is a fairly wonderful tribute to your mama. Well, and to your daughter – which is the part, there at the end, that choked me up just a bit.

    • Becky Palapala says:

      For the record, I would like to note that the word “love”–or any variation thereof–only appears twice in this piece. In 1700 words. And then, it has nothing to do with my mom and me.

      Not because I don’t love my mother or vice versa, but because I hoped this wouldn’t be too conventionally sentimental.

      IT’S NOT FUCKING MUSHY!!!

      *ahem*

      What I mean to say is that I can see how it might be, to some degree, at least insofar as I have expressed feelings, but I hope I didn’t totally fail to assert the other aspects of it.

      • Ashley Menchaca (N.O.Lady) says:

        Becky, I love you.

        I see changes in you already and I know you are rolling your eyes at that statement but it’s true. Embrace the changes that your little one is bringing…they will make you even MORE lovable. Sweet/kinda-mushy is not a synonym for weak.

  7. Andrew Panebianco says:

    Spectacular.

  8. Andrew Panebianco says:

    It’s always such a relief to find someone whose dissatisfaction with everything in existence rivals your own. And it’s a delight when they’re as eloquent in expressing that dissatisfaction as you are.

    Let’s start a radio show where we just kvetch and glum. We can call it The Glower Hour. Or something equally lame.

  9. zoe zolbrod says:

    My first kid was born in April, and when a month later Mother’s Day rolled around, pretty much everyone–well, by everyone, I probably just mean my husband–forgot that I was now meant to be added to the list of obligatory honorees. I should have been fine with that, as I share some of your sentiments about forced holidays. But to my dismay I found myself put-out, which of course increased my dismay tenfold, since being a mother had apparently transformed me the kind of person who expected certain behaviors–one of my worst fears! But it all leveled out with the hormones. Now it’s a low-stress nice day for me the mother, as I get to sleep in an extra hour or whatever, and I can focus my anxieties back where I’m more used to them, onto myself as a daughter. Happy belated and ad infinitum Mother’s Day.

    • Becky Palapala says:

      I guess what I was getting at but that seems to have failed to come across (and if it didn’t, it’s no one’s fault but my own), is that it turns out not to be Mother’s Day, but motherhood itself that I am actually ambivalent about. That it’s not the day, but motherhood itself that some part of me resents for being forced or predetermined. Like Prufrock’s days, measured out in coffee spoons.

      A lofty comparison, one my fairly prosaic life probably doesn’t deserve and that I can now say I failed to flesh out as well as I should have for the purposes of the piece, but that’s what I was trying to push at.

      Then Mother’s Day is just sort of collateral damage in my thrashings against the ambivalence, why I’m ambivalent, the concern that I may never NOT be ambivalent, and so on.

      At a much less complicated level and in the day-to-day when, like most people, I don’t devote nearly so much introspection to it, I will never begrudge a holiday that works as a trump card to get me out of, for example, cleaning up dog poop.

      Though admittedly, my ability to ignore all my navel-gazing tendencies would have been enhanced if I could have at least had a mimosa. All this self-reflective posturing may simply be a cover for resentment that motherhood, ironically, stopped me from spending mother’s day drinking.

      • zoe zolbrod says:

        I think that came across in your post. I did not think you were literally wringing your hands over the holiday. When talking about Mother’s Day in my comment, I didn’t exactly mean it literally, either. Motherhood. Lots to be ambivalent about, especially, maybe, for ambitious, thinking types.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Thanks. That makes me feel better.

          Would you believe that when I posted this to my fb feed, I hid it from all family members, including my sister, because I don’t think any of them would understand what’s to be ambivalent about?

          It’s hard not to feel guilty under those circumstances.

  10. Erika Rae says:

    I was born butt first. I was born…mooning the world.

    Woe to all of us.

    Amen.

    *mimosa clink*

    • Becky Palapala says:

      My best friend’s son was born like that. She said it was like birthing a double-wide baby.

      Yeesh.

      But..but…

      I CAN’T HAVE A MIMOSA!!!

      *collapses to ground in tears*

  11. kristen says:

    Enjoyed this. Thanks for it.

    Question: has the no-alcohol thing been pretty tough for you? I’m thinking baby in the next year myself (I’m also 33), and it’s hard for me to imagine going w/o my very routine wine boluses.

    I hear both, you know? Some who pine for it and others who don’t. One friend, also wine loving and now very pregnant, was super anxious/bummed about having to forgo the bottle for such a lengthy period, and yet, when she’s allowed herself–tried to allow herself–the occasional glass, she finds she’s unable to take more than a few sips. Not, ‘far as she’s aware, due to guilt or anything–but because the taste of it simply hasn’t appealed to her.

    • Becky Palapala says:

      Aside from my love of mimosas, I’m almost exclusively a beer girl (though plenty of beer), and especially early in my pregnancy, I craved the flavor of it. After my first trimester, I started allowing myself N/A beer, which has some (though negligible) alcohol content, but the acidity/carbonation gave me heartburn, and it just stopped being rewarding. I’d find myself nursing them, only drinking 1/2 or 3/4. I’ll still get the craving for that flavor, but after a few sips, I’m usually sated.

      I’ve said that once into my 3rd trimester, I wouldn’t deny myself the occasional glass of wine or a small glass of Guinness, but I’m really starting to think it might not even occur to me to want one.

      It’s truly bizarre.

      I think I pine for the ability to really enjoy drinking again. As long as I’m pregnant, if for no other reason than an irritable stomach, that’s just not going to happen.

  12. James D. Irwin says:

    Oh, I commented on this last night but it doesn’t seem to have gone through. I can’t remember what I said exactly.

    I think I said something about how weird it is that you funny old Americans have mother’s day about two months after we do in Britain, and it seems to be a much bigger thing. That’s the impression I’ve been getting from this site and facebook statuses.

    Also, this post and your last post have alluded to the fact that you are ‘with child’ as it were. Now, I might be completely wrong but I don’t think I am. And that means I’ve not had a chance to offer words of a kindly, congratulatory nature…

    • Yeah, those crazy Americans have moved Mother’s Day, confusing the hell out of me. Thankfully I have British flower companies sending me reminders for months before the actual Mother’s Day. So that I can send my poor mother some flowers that someone else has chosen… Oh, now I feel bad.

    • Becky Palapala says:

      Indeed I have fallen pregnant.

      No need to be too congratulatory yet; save that for when I’ve managed to complete the pregnancy without murdering anyone. That will be the real day for celebration.

      Yeah, it’s a pretty big deal here, to everyone but (ostensibly) mothers, who will all but universally declare that “having a wonderful son/daughter like you is gift enough for me; dont you get me anything,” then smile sweetly in a way that says, “you’d better fucking get me something good.”

      • James D. Irwin says:

        Haha, the way this was formatted in the notification e-mail made it seem as though you were implying your pregnancy is a big deal to everyone in the United States.

        As it should be, of course.

        ‘Fallen’ pregnant is a strange term. It had negative connotations, like ‘fallen comrade.’ I’m going to offer my congratulatory words anyway, because I am somewhat excited and pleased for you. I hope you manage to last the next several months without comitting an act of murder as well. That would probably be in everyone’s best interests…

        • Becky Palapala says:

          You mean my pregnancy isn’t a pretty big deal to everyone in the country? Never fear! I’ll just carry on about it on TNB until it is!

          “Fallen pregnant” makes it sound like it’s this virtually arbitrary occurance, like “falling ill,” where it just happens to you out of the blue and you’re fine one minute, stricken the next, totally flabbergasted about how this ever happened or where you “picked up” this condition.

          I mean, in some cases, I suppose that’s the case, but overall, the source and cause of pregnancy is not a mystery. Pregnancy is not some seizure or other sudden-onset condition of confounding origins. I mean, everyone, including me, knows how I got this way.

          I accept your congratulations. Thanks.

        • James D. Irwin says:

          You should definitely do a string of laboriously long posts about pregnancy, with a tone that implies no-one else can possibly understand. Not even other women who have given birth, because they’re not as super-special as you are!

          Or you could have a nationwide twitter based competition to name the child. Those are always classy…

          Whenever I hear the word ‘fallen’ I think ‘remember the fallen…’ etc and the war. Although that’s arguably a better phrase than ‘having a bun in the oven.’

          I’m glad my congratulations were accepted.

  13. Richard Cox says:

    I’m a sucker for conversations about humans making conscious decisions to question or reject their natural impulses. It’s one of the most fascinating aspects about self-awareness. Humans, like all animals, are driven by instructions encoded in our core programming, but unlike other animals, we can (we think) willfully choose to ignore them. What does that mean, exactly, especially where evolution is concerned? Are we manipulating the future of our species, or is the rise of sentience simply another step in a process that was long ago determined by initial conditions?

    In other words, I love how you raise questions about being a mom and are somewhat horrified by your body’s involuntary reaction to being pregnant, its desire to be pregnant, etc.

    Happy belated Mother’s Day. To you and your “cool” mom. 😉

    • Becky Palapala says:

      Is there anyone who desires to be pregnant?

      I mean, I understand that contrarians are everywhere, but if safe, all-natural stork delivery were, in fact, an alternative, would anyone choose to give birth?

      I wouldn’t.

      No way.

      But I do feel like I need to have a kid. A little person. At least one. I mean, ambivalent as I may be, I would undoubtedly be regretful, eventually, if I didn’t do it. Not because I have a powerful need to nurture or receive unconditional love (I get that from my dog. My puppy. My schmoop-da-whoop mooshy wooshie wooby woo), but like a limited-time sale, I’m aware that right now, I have a choice. At some point, I will not have a choice. If I think there’s any chance I’ll one day want that item, I’d better get it now.

      Nature will not abide procrastination & a decision-making disorder. The last train will eventually pull out of the station, and that will be it.

      Some people talk about pressure/desire to bear children it like it’s some kind of WASP-y culturally-constructed conspiracy to kill planet earth, but I’d wager we WASPs have the fewest children per capita.

      Other people talk about it like it’s this demon that possesses women uniformly after the age of 30, their hormones and evolutionary urges bidding them to search, increasingly frantically, out of their minds, for seed.

      But I think some times, it’s a lot more boring than that. I think sometimes, a chick just realizes it’s time to either shit or get off the pot. I think it can be, fundamentally, a reasoned decision rather than a cultural coercion or biological compulsion.

      I think this possibility has always existed, but for much of human history, for the most part, women simply weren’t much allowed to exercise it. Or at least not as freely & openly as they are now.

      I think if anything is culturally constructed, it’s the idea that a woman should be ashamed for feeling that way. For feeling like pregnancy, while being fairly amazing & impressive, indeed, is also uncomfortable and messy and will reconfigure woman’s body and her fundamental identity & alter the course of her existence irreparably. Anyone who would not have reservations about that, in my opinion, must be horribly shallow.

      Of course, once you’re pregnant and the actual, verifiable brain chemical coup takes place, yeah. Then you’ve ceded the helm. At least for a while.

      • dwoz says:

        I hang my head in shame around the zero population growth crowd, I’m a pariah there, having already polluted the world with 8 carbon-cycle-ruiners and scarce-food-and-water-eaters.

        I am a male, not a female, but I was thinking about your comment, that anyone would choose to take delivery via stork or fedex instead of having to go through 9 months of body-smashing change.

        I think that time frame actually serves a biological purpose. I of course have no science or study to back this opinion up, but I think the time of gestation prepares you in your own life and routine as much as it serves as growing time for the fetus. You somehow have time to make a transition of consciousness into the completely different world you’ll have to exist in.

        People talk about the hassle and hoops and waiting in the adoption process…In my view this would serve the same purpose…allow a transition into the childrearing lifestyle.

        I mean, it’s not like taking care of a kid is some kind of mensa-level activity…it’s pretty basic stuff, really…but it is NOTHING like the kind of life and mind you have when you’re pre-progeny.

    • Becky Palapala says:

      Yeah! That’ll teach you comment on my pieces, Richard.

      Here is your reward.

      A WHOLE OTHER PIECE TO READ.

  14. This is my favorite post of yours so far. I really love how you take great pains in describing your mother. She becomes full, rich, vivacious and even cranky and stubborn as a real person transforming into a character built of words from your endless memories and thoughts. I like that.

    Makes me wonder about your future posts about babies, toddlers and grade K. It’s all coming. And fast.

    Earlier today I locked myself out of the house. I had one of my kids jump a fence and get the spare key. He tore his shoe. It was kind of funny. Heh. Oh man, I remember when he was just a baby…

    • Becky Palapala says:

      Not sure how I missed your comment, Nick, but here it is!

      Hmm…”great pains” and “endless memories.”

      Are you suggesting I’m long-winded? 🙂

      As far as the kid jumping the fence, this is a solid 50% of the reason I decided to have kids at all.

      On the assumption that, for my investment in them, they will in return come in handy in a number of ways.

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