Monkey in the middle

Screw it. Mommy bloggers get all the attention, so forget all this book and general life-whining stuff. I'm officially changing my format. From now on I will write only about my kids, and the cute little things they do. Like my 13-year old, who can belch four-syllable words; my 15-year old, the family archivist, who retains every bit of information since his life began; and my 17-year old disgustingly gifted honor's student, who's one year away from college.

My new tagline will read:  Ask Me What My Kids Are Doing!

I'm feeling like a dried-out husk, a creaky, middle-aged crab halfway between drooling on my bib and drooling on my shirt. I forget a word, or say the wrong word, and worry it's early-onset Alzheimer's. I walk, purposefully and with determination, into a room, then forget why I'm there. I turn lights on when I leave a room. The milk goes in the cabinet, and the cereal in the refrigerator.

I'm so afraid of forgetting essentials, I regularly remind my family I want to be cremated, my ashes scattered amongst the Mighty Sequoias in California. Deciding that was too demanding, I downgraded to, "Either the Sequoias or the Redwoods. I'm not picky." Then, "Pick a big tree. Any big tree." Finally, "Right before I die, assure me I'll be put to good use fertilizing something. Anything. Then just flush me. What'll I know?"

My son: "Won't that clog the toilet?"

My favorite part of the conversation - in a new "build your own frozen yogurt dessert" restaurant, the high point in a family outing - was when we started talking about how they'd come to visit, where to leave flowers or what-not, if I'd been flushed, chlorinated and returned to the drinking water supply. "Sit by a faucet? Flush the toilet and say, 'Hi, Mom!'?"

Since sewage removal doesn't seem the ideal answer, I decided on a bench with a plaque, put somewhere people would appreciate taking a load off. Something with a witty saying, maybe, though I couldn't commit to anything, so absorbed was I in sprinkling little fudge bits on my chocolate yogurt. That, and elbowing back the kid who kept reaching in front of me. The little bastard.

Not to be outdone, then came my husband's speech on how he wanted to be buried, with a proper tombstone, someplace we could all come visit.

"Visit?," says I. "There's nothing at a grave to visit. When you're gone, you're not there, or anywhere."

"You wouldn't visit me at least once a year?! On my birthday?!"


Truth be told, I don't visit graves, not even my own brother's. Do I feel guilty about that? No. Because, once again, he's not there, won't know if I've dropped by or not, plus it's morbid and sad. I'd rather just remember his life, not suffer through his death all over again. I don't need to see physical proof he's not here anymore. I know that in my heart.

Unless it's the grave of a total stranger, who's been dead a really long time ("The deader the better."), preferably from the 19th century and before, I don't visit. I like my dead people to have names  like "Prudence Goodwife," or "Ezekiel Browntrousers," really old, really dead names with loads of character. I also prefer stones with dire warnings, reminding one day we'll be mouldering like these guys. It's a passive-aggressive thing, the dead taking one last chance to give the finger to humanity. And I kind of like that.

The genesis of all this was the realization my kids are nearing that big turning point, between childhood and the rest of their lives, preparing to make all the same life choices I had once upon a time. They'll ask for advice or not, choose to ignore me or not, and either mess up or sail through to the next big thing. All I can do is sit on my hands, willing myself to neither roll my eyes nor commit the sin of "I told you so…!" Because, how annoying is that?

Their lives, despite my starring role in their creation, aren't my life.

So, am I really changing the direction of Bluestalking? Did you ever even buy that? Nah. Books are still my thing, for better or for worse. I just like to write something more personal now and then, usually in the form of a complaint. I just wish I knew what I was trying to tell myself this time, what's really bugging me. It's all so vague, so subtle. But it'll come to me later.

Read anything good lately? Let's talk books 'til I figure this one out.



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