My grandmother, my aunt Cindy, my sister Krissie, and my mom.
Today we sat around a table outside in the absolutely gorgeous mid-May weather, just up a bank from the river in Parsons, and I listened to each of them describe their lives as wives and mothers. It’s a tale of cooking and cleaning and confusion and unconditional love. My grandmother likes to tell the story of her persnickety children and late husband, who were so dead-set against eating instant potatoes that they’d demand to see the potato skins before they’d chow down on the fluffy mound of potatoes in front of them. My sister jokes about her husband calling her at 8 a.m. and asking her what’s for supper that night. My aunt describes the time when she first married my uncle, how his parents would still call every morning to wake him up to go to work. My mom laughs about when she and my dad first married, how, if she’d be away for the weekend, she’d leave carefully prepared dinners in Tupperware containers in the fridge, and how she’d come home and see them untouched, only to find out that my dad had gone to my grandmother’s to eat instead.
This wife/mother thing, it’s a constant comedic (and, to me, infinitely frustrating and mind-boggling) struggle against the enigmatic force of nature that is Man. My cousin Keri is in the on-deck circle, slated to get married next summer, even though, chronologically, I’m the next up. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little uneasy about how my life is panning out. There’s something about sitting around with your family on Mother’s Day that will certainly make you think twice about your deliberately childless, romance-less life. I enjoy being the spinster aunt, the one in the family with no major obligations beyond work. But I can’t help but romanticize what it might be like to join my aunts and grandmother and sister and mother in their sacred status as life-givers and providers. That’s not to say I’d join them in their quest to have dinner on the table every night (or any of the accompanying spoils that metaphor entails). We all have a good laugh at the thought of such nonsense (the women in my family all work their asses off and, quite often, don’t have dinner on the table, and don’t feel guilty about it), but our laughing doesn’t stop the men from asking and expecting that dinner to be prepared. Some traditions die hard. Insert patriarchy-blaming here (or anywhere! everywhere!).
But, life it is what it is. And, for now, it’s mostly good for us. And for that I am grateful and proud. And hopeful.