We spent part of our weekend driving to South Texas to pick up my mom. The kids were excited because they hadn't seen her since Easter. We drove 6 hours there on Saturday and came back Sunday. It was the longest stretch Tortuga has spent with the whole family and he did pretty well. We have him on a very "basic" privileges scheduld and routine and it doesn't include much time with the rest of the family. I know I need to write about this but I just haven't figured out how. With the exception of him working overtime to "catch" Pollito and Corazon doing things wrong he really managed quite well until the last hour of the drive. By the time whe met up with my sister and niece for dinner he was on his way to losing it. I couldn't blame him too much since it's a taxing drive for anyone.
My mom is spending the next couple of weeks with us which is a great blessing because C. is away for work until next Saturday. It means I don't have to load the car full of kids 10 times a day for things like school drop offs, pickups, getting milk at the grocery store, gymnastics practices, etc. I cannot begin to say how much I dislike having to do that. One of the interesting things for me since becoming a SAHM is how much my day is defined and organized by these drop-offs and pick-ups. When I was working and managing all those things as well they were challenges and aggravations to my schedule but they someone seemed smaller (which makes absolutely no sense to anyone but me!)
I don't want to sound like I only enjoy my mother when she is helping me out because that wouldn't be true. Generally speaking we get along beautifully. She has always been supportive (even when she disagrees) about most of the "big" things in my life especially when I chose to do things that weren't typical of folks growing up in the circumstances/culture we did. I generally feel like I had a happy childhood, great parents, and a good upbringing so I don't bring too much "baggage" to our relationship. As an adult, I have maintained my role as the eldest and am the primary support system for my mom even though she still lives independently. I try to take care her needs (big and small) and provide whatever help and support is necessary. I enjoy it most of the time and that which I don't enjoy, I just deal with. Parenting adopted, special needs kids does bring up issues with my mom and family because, of course, like most folks on the planet, she doesn't really get it. She judges my parenting (and I am sorely lacking) and feels sorry for my kids. She sneaks food to them that I don't think helps them, lets them watch tv when I am not around, and she thinks I "punish" them too much when I should just let them be "kids." Of course, she also then tells me how she doesn't trust my kids because of their "backgrounds" and she isn't as comfortable with them as with my nieces, because they aren't my biological kids (although she swears I secretly birthed Milagro because she claims that kid and her behaviors at every turn remind her of me as a baby/toddler!) She also thinks I have too many kids so I suppose I shouldn't share that we are probably not done with the whole adding more kids thing.... :-)
That said, I am grateful she is still a part of my life and look forward to late evening/night chats after the kids have gone to bed. Our lives are so very different, yet from the same roots, and I always learn from her experiences. I was saddened on the way down to get her because I got a phone call while in the car letting me know that my mom's oldest sister had just passed away that morning. It was up to me to pass the news to my mom and several of our relatives. In fact, it was through a series of calls and text messages among first cousins that we were able to notify all of the siblings about her passing. What a difference between our two generations! My mom is 76 years old and all of her remaining siblings are between 70 and 88 years of age. She has lost 2 brothers and now 2 sisters. This sister was the most distant from her because she was 11 years older and married when my mom was a toddler. She is also the only sibling who remained in Mexico so they didn't see each other often over the past few years. I hadn't seen that aunt in 15 years and wasn't especially close to her. Nonetheless, I was sad to think of my mother's sister passing and then realizing that none of her siblings will attend whatever services are planned for her. It's just not "necessary" nor expected and is prohibitive for most of them either for health or financial reasons. They have lived their whole lives connected to one another by blood and content to know the others are "out there" living their lives. They celebrate wildly when circumstances bring them together but the don't expect to see each other. It wasn't part of the realities of their existence as migrant workers who moved between the U.S. and Mexico for much of their lives until they settled wherever it made sense for them and their respective families. It made me think of how hard I work to make my children feel a sense of connectedness to each other that isn't there by blood. I never had to work for that connection with my siblings (although we are a large mix of halves and steps) and I too live my life happy to know my siblings are "out there" living their lives whether or not we see or talk with each other often. My connection to them is palpable and tangible. I want that to be there for my children not only with each other but with their birth siblings as well.
I'm not going anywhere in particular with this except to put it here as part of what has been going on with me over this past weekend. All of this family stuff was swirling in my head today when C. left and when I tried to explain to Tortuga why I was upset that he didn't bother to say goodbye to her this morning. I told him (through my tears ) that I wasn't upset with him, just sad for him and his inability to recognize that it is important to hug goodnight, share "I love you's" and yes, darn it, say goodbye to one of your mom's when she leaves for a week!