Deadbeat Manatee Parent

A consequence of meeting someone and then marrying them while being five months pregnant with their child, all in under a year, is that for a long while after all that excitement, you’re still getting to know your life partner. There are times when I’ll say “My friend Algernon* got married” and Tex will say “Algernon? You’ve never mentioned an Algernon” even though Algernon was my best friend in fifth through eighth grade. Then, I’ll tell him all about who I was when the world wore necklaces made of Bonnebelland braces.

So when a dresser full of papers from my childhood bedroom arrived, Tex stopped me before I could recycle the lot. “Wait” he said “we need to go through this together. This is a gold mine.” Waving a page around gleefully he said “Look there’s even your school project on manatees!”

I did do a project on manatees, but the paper he was waving around wasn’t it. I’m a heartless purger of memorabilia of any kind so that particular project had hit the blue bin two decades ago. In fact before Tex declared an amnesty for my childhood papers, I had already peeled the photographs from the pages because I know the city doesn’t take them with newspapers.

Fast forward to Tex and I sitting together, going through all of my junk. Once again, Tex grabbed for the papers about the manatees. “Who is Deep Dent?” Tex asked as he read over the paper congratulating me on my contribution to a manatee sanctuary. “He’s my manatee.” I answered, “For my birthdays I would ask for people to adopt manatees for me because I’ve always been an environment loving, dirty hippie”.

“Cool” Tex responded with his signature buoyant enthusiasm. “What do you know about these manatees?”

“I don’t know,” I replied offhandedly, “Here are their biographies, I didn’t read them.”

Tex reached for the pages of information about Deep Dent and the two other manatees I had adopted. “Neat. Are there pictures?”

“I took them out already, I was going to put them in the trash.”

Tex stopped rifling through the pages to look at me. “Do you mean to say that you don’t know anything about these manatees that you’ve adopted and you don’t have pictures of them? You’re a deadbeat manatee parent.” He glanced down at Amanda the manatee’s biography. “Did you at least visit them?”

“No, but my grandparents did” I said sheepishly.

“Your grandparents?!” Tex exploded at me “You really are a deadbeat manatee parent.”

So there you have it world. My mother is an excellent grandmother and a good step-parent even if she doesn’t want to be acknowledged in either of those roles, whereas I mindlessly adopt manatees and forget about them. Give me forty lashes or chain me to the stocks, or whatever it is that’s done to deadbeats.

 

 

*I didn’t actually have a friend named Algernon. Mostly because when I was younger I didn’t have friends. Not because I was unpopular, I was just unpleasant. But these types of omissions of information happen with Tex and I all the time. Probably because during the first year we were together, a little under half of it was consumed with prenatal activities and discussions. And by prenatal activities I mean vomiting. And by discussions I mean this conversation:

“Are you going to puke?”

“That looks like your puke face.”

“I’m pulling over to the side of the road now.”

Kids, the lesson here is to bang hot cowboys and get to know them later. It’s a tried and true recipe for life success, as evidenced by me, the deadbeat manatee parent. Now if you’ll excuse me, I just realized I forgot about the possum that I brought home last week and put in the porch.

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To My Former Lover

I saw you on the street the other day. You were with someone else. I crossed to the other side because I didn’t want my desperation and feelings of longing to show. I think about you a lot. It’s hard not to; those squinting, dark hours we used to spend together before the day began, the afternoons at cafes, the late, late nights in university. You were a part of my family, my sister used to joke that if my mother didn’t have you, then what would motherly acts would she cling to?

My son is a year and a half now. It’s been that long. I know you’re not keeping count, but I am. Especially in the mornings, seeing you with other people, laughing, having a ball. I remember those days, when you’d wake me up; colours were brighter, sounds were sharper, with you it was like the world was in high def. To an extent, I know that I will always miss you, that some days will be a fog. But that comes with the territory, to know you so well- there’s no going back.

Not to be awkward, but I miss your body. Of all of your incarnations, the full one was always my favourite, but you knew that. The taste of you borders on sensuous; empires have been built on that power of yours. To say nothing of your smell, which we both know is your most attractive quality. Memorable, enticing, yours is a scent that is unmistakable.

I miss you. I just thought you should know that. I know it doesn’t matter, that you have the rest of the world while I’m left with the empty moments you once occupied in my day. But I wanted to say it all the same. And to add that nothing else looks quite as good in my mugs. Somehow a steaming cup of Earl Grey doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Coffee, just like Adele, I’d like to send my love to your new lover. And I do hope you treat her better and don’t give her tachycardia, because that would and does suck.

Miss you always,

Unwashed

Five Things Friday: All I Have To Do Now Is Mug A Hooker

  1. I’ve taken to stealing cars

The whole “motherhood” bit was getting dull, especially since it has been ages since I broke into that nunnery, so I decided to play the videogame Grand Theft Auto, but in real life. Our van is an incredibly popular model, meaning that there are approximately six other cars that look like it at any one time in a parking lot. This means that I attempt to break into at least one car a week. I’m a godawful thief though- I make a huge scene, yanking on the door handle, swearing at the car, waving my keys at it before realizing that I don’t play lacrosse, so that definitely isn’t my sporting equipment in the front seat.

 

  1. FOMO is not a sushi dish

I stopped reading trashy magazines, partially because it was a New Year’s resolution, but mostly because I had no idea what the text meant. My weekly indulgence had started using terms like “IDK” and “ICYMI” which I found somewhat confusing, but the worst trendy acronym for me was “IRL”, which I had decided was the English version of “Beurk!” which is a French sound effect for when a person is disgusted. This made sentences like “Such and such extremely attractive actor started dating so and so, another excessively beautiful person, IRL!” confounding, because was the magazine trying not to toss its cookies because the two were so adorable? Or was the couple a bad match? Or was one of the attractive people cheating on a third attractive person?

In case you are also confused, IRL means “In Real Life”. I discovered that this week, meaning that I’m now 30% fluent in young personese. With this new status, I plan to hang out at skate parks to put my acquired language skills to good use. And in case you’re wondering, ICYMI is a Japanese word meaning “Look there’s an octopus!” I’m not sure why English speakers are using it, probably for the same reason that white people get Japanese characters indelibly inked onto their skin.

 

  1. Pants the universal sponge

To cement my status as “Dirtiest Hippie Ever”, prior to moving, I decided to hide all of the towels and placemats in the house. This should have made cleaning up spills a challenge given that we don’t have paper towels in the house ever, but ever the resourceful person that I am, I used my pants.

I’ve chosen to cling to this explanation as opposed to the more obvious one which is that I am an idiot who used every single hand towel, placemat and cloth napkin as packing material, not realizing that we had ten more days in the house.

 

5. I am a toddler

Remember when you were small and painstakingly counted ooooooone, Two… three, FIVE! You don’t? Well aren’t you lucky, today you get to relive your childhood, because this five things Friday edition, goes just like that. You may all have a lollipop and hug your teddybear now too.

All of My Favourite Parts

In case you missed it, I defamed my mother terribly in my last post, I poked fun at her vanity and her constant need to feel and be perceived as young. But my mother is more than just her foibles. Although my Mom’s peccadillos are what make her into an interesting story, it’s her strengths like her ability to laugh at herself which make her so much fun to write about. And in this post, whether she likes it or not, I’m going to expound upon all of her strengths, and the qualities I love most about my Mom.

What I admire most about my mother is her willingness to be outside of the box. When I was younger, my mother was a hippie with a compost barrel before environmentalism was cool. My Mom always wore these unique, artsy jackets and dresses that made her stick out. But best of all, she was herself, this slightly nerdy lady who loved science and would let the whole world know it by covering our dining room table in overheads of organ systems. It was through watching this person who just delighted in who she was that I gained the confidence to be myself as well.

This sounds trivial but it isn’t – my mother is good at math. It was only after I entered university that I learned about the stereotype that girls struggle with math. After watching my mother, it never occurred to me that I would experience anything but success when faced with numbers. By the same token, my mother demonstrated to me that if I worked hard enough, I was capable of anything.

Earlier, I mentioned my Mom’s ability to make fun of herself. There is nothing which is more likely to elicit a huge laugh from my mother than a story lampooning either an action or a trait of hers. I always try to emulate this, to never take myself too seriously. In that same vein, my mother is always up for an adventure. Traveling or attempting new sports with her is a riot, because to my Mom, every mishap or fall is a story and a story is something to smile about.

Lastly, the quality that most often makes my mother a model to others is her level of fitness. Upon meeting my Mom for the first time, once her back is turned, people will say to me “Your mother is jacked” which is both true and false at the same time. For a person in their late fifties, my mother is probably in the ninety-ninth percentile in terms of physical fitness. However, throughout my teens and early twenties, my mother was actually jacked, with biceps that made boyfriends contemplate picking me up down the street to avoid facing her. She used to wear crop tops every day of the week to show off her rockin’ six pack. My mother viewed every chin up bar that she met as a challenge to be conquered, which, had video games not been invented by then and thus gobbled up the neighbourhood children, would have made walks to the local playground exceptionally awkward. Regardless of whether or not she can still bench press the neighbour’s sedan, my mother lives the adage “use it or lose it”, and has passed on this commitment of personal fitness to me.

While I take great pleasure in teasing my mother for her weaknesses, I love her most for her strengths because they’re what she’s passed on to me. These unique qualities are the ones that I hope my own children will possess. I’m doing my best to be an equally good model as my own mom was and is, but I must confess, those are some big (and jacked) shoes to fill.

All Hail Cookie Owl

Appearances are very important to my mother. Whether it’s appearing to be a good hostess, mother or much younger than her years, my mother’s vanity has always been an entertaining part of my life. If only because in every instance, I often end up dashing these dreams of competency and youth upon the rocks.

Once upon a time, when I thought My Little Pony was the answer to all the world’s problems, I was in Brownies. It was a horrible, weekly event that I was forced into under the guise of “making friends”, “appearing normal” and “trying new things”. I resisted the group at every turn. In an effort to support my participation, my mother agreed to become one of the leaders. The first week that she joined, everyone sat in a circle and we were asked to give our new leader a name. All the leader’s names ended with “Owl”, there was probably justification for this but as I spent the majority of the meetings calculating how many seconds were left until my parents picked me up, I don’t remember it.

Anyway, so my mother sat there, next to Sleepy Owl, Happy Owl and Sneezy Owl. These weren’t actually the women’s “Brownie Names” but I don’t remember either the women or the names, so they very well could have been small bearded men for all I know.

Sneezy Owl asked the group whether anyone had any suggestions for the new Owl’s name. Ever the helpful child, I raised my hand. “You should call her Thunder Owl because she yells a lot” I suggested. My mother was mortified and gave me the kind of look that said that the car ride wasn’t going to be fun so perhaps I shouldn’t count the seconds this evening. She ended up being Cookie Owl, only the second most boring name after Happy Owl. Regardless, she could pretend to maintain the facade of being a perfect parent.

Although my mother denies that she yells, more often, she denies her age. The most recent example of this would be the name she demanded Mini-Tex call her. Everyone can breathe a sigh of relief, it’s not Cookie Owl. Even though her own mother became a grandma at fifty and willingly took on the moniker “Gran”, at fifty-eight, my mother decided she was to young to be a grandma and refused to be called any incarnation of the title, not granny, not buba, not grams. Instead she invented her own name – Gemma. She took the “g” and “m” from grandma and made a hip title so no one would dare offer her a discount on the early bird special.

One would think that denying the existence of a grandchild would be the pinnacle in narcissistic acts, but this week, my mother took it one step further. She chose to deny that she was a parent. No, she wasn’t parading around claiming that we were sisters, she chose to instead deny her role as a step parent.

Gary, a family friend and trusted contractor, made the jump last year to boyfriend status. My mother even upped the ante by having him move in with her. Since then, they have attended each other’s family functions, she routinely makes meals for his children and Gary’s sons often sleep over. Which led to the following conversation.

Unwashed – “So as their step parent”

Mom – “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold on. No one is anyone’s step parent.”

Unwashed – “I’m sorry, do they regularly sleep at your house?”

Mom – “Yes”

Unwashed – “Do you often make them meals?”

Mom – “Yes, but”

Unwashed rudely cutting her mother off – “Do you worry about how they’re doing in school and whether they’re attending.”

Mom in an obvious state of discomfort – “Yes, it’s different”

Unwashed obnoxiously talking loudly over her mother – “STEP PARENT!”

I’m not actually sure why my mother is denying her step children’s existence, they’re even teenagers so it would totally feed into her love of being mistaken for being much younger than she is. I think it’s one of those times where I just have to shake my head and smirk inwardly as everyone calls my mother “Cookie Owl” to soothe her ego. For the record, “Thunder Owl” is much more bad ass. It’s what a Hell’s Angel’s member would demand to be called if they weren’t too busy dealing cocaine to attend their children’s extra-curricular activities.