Sunday, April 10, 2016

"...and I straighten my crown."

I've been re-watching the whole Parenthood series on Netflix. The first time I watched it was two and half years ago, during the last couple weeks of my maternity leave, so I was a hormonal sobbing mess throughout it. This time? Not much better. I'm not hormonal, I'm not a new mom, and I'm not sad about the thought of leaving my small baby every day for work.

I'm just grieving.

:: :: :: :: ::

When my mom was in home hospice care, there were two beds arranged in my parents' guest room. One, the usual occupant of the room, was queen-sized. The other one was a narrow hospital bed, the one a medical supply company delivered after midnight in a hurried attempt to convince the doctors to let my mom come home the next day, the one that was assembled under my exhausted supervision while my dad slept in his room and my mom slept at the hospital, the one that my mom soundly rejected in favor of the far-superior guest bed. My siblings and I took turns staying in the hospital bed during our overnight shifts. The TV in the room was on a 24-hour loop, offering comfort by way of light and sound and happy endings, rotating among news channels, daytime talk shows, and Netflix series - Friends, Friday Night Lights, Parenthood.

I always chose Parenthood during my shifts. My mom had just started watching it and loved it. The show is a little saccharine, a little vapid, and a lot addicting, spinning stories of a mostly-strong family living their lives, facing and overcoming challenges together. I mean, you watch it, and you want to be a Braverman; you want to pull up a chair for Sunday dinner on the outdoor patio, lit by twinkle lights and smelling like jasmine and barbecue. Watching the show with my mom, I identified with this TV family - the adult siblings dealing with their adult issues while being both bolstered and burdened by their childhoods - except that my nights at the time were spent in the hospital bed, lit by the glow of the television and smelling like scented garbage bags and disinfectant.

I switched my show choice when my mom and I got to the season where one of the main characters is diagnosed with cancer. And for some reason, I was hung up for months on the fact that my mom never finished watching that series. What's the point?

What's the point?

:: :: :: :: ::

In episode after episode, the Braverman siblings struggled their struggles. So did their kids, and so did their parents. But meanwhile, their parents were their landing pad. Maybe you got into a drunken fistfight with your son's mother's brother, and your nephew's hot behavioral therapist had to break it up - but a few days later, the whole family would be watching the baseball game together, so it was all good.

And there I was this weekend, watching the Bravermans, sniffling on the couch and feeling sorry for myself because it's no longer a given that someone "in charge" will plan our family gatherings. I don't want to be in charge, I thought. I don't want anyone else to be in charge. I want my mom to be in charge. I want my mom. It's not fair.

:: :: :: :: ::

And then.

Just when I was hitting a new all-time pity-party low, I wondered what my mom would think if she could hear my thoughts, if she could see me sniveling in front my of laptop screen. And the shift in me was palpable.

My mom also did not have a mother organizing family barbecues in a sprawling California garden. Not because her mother was dead, but because that just wasn't her mother's style - nor was it my mother's style to expect someone else to do all that. If my mom wanted something to happen, she made it happen. When her parents paid for her brother's college education but wouldn't pay for hers, she put herself through school. When she wanted to learn to fly small planes, she signed up for lessons. When our elementary school bus stop moved across the road, she made the city mount stop signs to keep us safe. And I never once heard her bitch or moan about these things. She wasn't immune to self-pity, necessarily, or to bitching and moaning. But her typical response was action instead of apathy.

Me, I find comfort in the balance. There's a certain solace in melancholy. But I'm getting lost in it lately, as the anniversary of my mom's diagnosis (plus Mother's Day and her birthday) approaches. The wallowing has its place, I guess, but this weekend, I was grateful to remember to snap the hell out of it. That's absolutely what my mom's advice would be to me: snap the hell out of it. She wouldn't tell me that unkindly. Just sensibly. Because what's the point of wallowing?

What's the point?

:: :: :: :: ::

I ran across this image awhile back. I can't find the original source, and I'm pretty sure it's a spinoff of a Bible verse, and it's apparently too cool for an Oxford comma, but the sentiment couldn't be more apropos.

Commencing snapping the hell out of it. And gladly.


  1. I'm partly Crosby, mostly Sarah. How do you identify?

    1. Probably Julia with a side of Joel, which makes sense since Rowan is pretty much Sydney (unfortunate, since she turns into the MOST annoying character after about the third season).



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