It’s been a while. A ridiculously long while. I don’t even know why, really… I just got busy with my new routine & kept finding excuses not to write & then the thought of writing after so long became scary, for some reason. So I’m drinking wine out of a juice glass (I’ve found there’s less chance of it toppling & practicality has taken precedence over style) & I’m jumping back in.

I think I have a fear of becoming one of those insipid “mommy blogs” that I’ve always hated reading. You know the ones… they’re eerily cheerful & never negative & always glowing & content &… well, just so damn HAPPY. I’ve never been a simply happy person. As a rule, I’m suspicious of overwhelmingly happy people (just ask my brother-in-law, who I’ve dubbed “The Happiest Person in Our Family.”) And because I’ve only been able to think in terms of Rose… her eating, her sleeping, her pooping, her smiles, her tantrums, her routine, her, her, her… I’ve just stopped writing.

And I’ve gotta be honest… I’ve seen a difference in myself since I’ve stopped writing. I’ve become more angsty, more fixated, more bitchy. I think the outlet of writing allows me to spew & move on, & when I stopped, I just started dwelling on stuff that usually would warrant a single blog post, & then that would resolve it. I’ve become emotionally constipated. Lovely imagery, no?

First things first. Rose. My focus, my sun, the thing that my days revolve around. She’s perfect. Like seriously without flaw. I look at her & I’m brought to tears by how much I freaking love her. She’s more than I ever thought I’d have, & not a day goes by that I don’t feel the thankfulness bubbling in my heart. And to make it even more ridiculously perfect, she’s a happy baby. Once we figured out the food thing, she’s been like a little beaming, toothless, ray of sunshine. She spits like a champ — that hasn’t changed — but really, who cares about an occasional (ok, more than occasional) spew of processed milk bubbling up from within? Not me. No colic, no unexplained crying fits, she sleeps 8-9 hours at night… I’m loving it.

Thanksgiving was nice. There was some tension — Bobby was feeling very overwhelmed, & Sue wasn’t here — but we actually had dinner ready on time for the first time ever, & for the first time since 2006, we went around the table & said what we were thankful for. Tom (the happy BIL) suggested it… he’s quite adept at human analysis, & he knew that we were ready this year for the first time since Mama left. During my turn, I said as much:
“This is the first time in years that I’m more thankful for what I have than angry about what I don’t have.”
I can’t say I’m happier than I’ve ever been because my mother’s not here. But I can say that I’m happier than I’ve been since she died, & I’m more appreciative of my happiness than I’ve ever been because I have the lack thereof to compare it to.

After Thanksgiving, we went to Virginia to visit Mama’s family. It wasn’t a good visit. For the first time, I felt unwelcome. Something’s going on with my grandfather… I have no idea what, but it was very, very apparent that something very wrong. When we got there, we were oblivious… we were just happy to be there, & excited about celebrating Christmas early with Mama’s family. Because we’ve been trying to spend more & more time up there, we stayed a week — just like we did in June & March & last December. A week was a good period of time during those visits. This visit, however, was different. A week was too long. I started sensing that something was amiss on Day 2. By Day 4, I knew without a doubt that a week was too long, but we had already told my grandmother that we were staying, & it would have been awkward & hurtful to cut the visit short for no apparent reason. The night before we left, Jennifer & I cried… we both knew that we had overstayed our welcome, but we didn’t (still don’t) understand why. In typical fashion, I made a list of reasons for Grandpa’s behavior:

1 – He’s physically sick (ie, cancer, early onset of alzeimer’s, etc)
2 – He’s mentally sick (ie, seasonal or clinical depression)
3 – He’s just fed up with his family in general… after all these years, he’s just sick of our shenanigans & he’s ready to write us all off.
4 – He’s mad at us specifically – “us” meaning the South Carolina girls, Mama’s girls. I even had the sudden fear that someone had found this blog & gone back & read my posts right after Mama died, when I was so very, very angry & shared them with my grandparents for the sheer enjoyment of the hurt they could cause.

Jennifer & I cornered Grandma the morning that we left & asked her point-blank if Grandpa was sick. She’s physically incapable of lying, so we knew that we could trust what she told us — we asled 3 or 4 different ways to make sure that she wasn’t skirting the issue, but the bottom line is that Grandpa’s not sick…. he’s just sick of us. She ruled out Option #1 & I don’t think it’s Option #3. And you wanna know the sad, selfish thing? There was a tiny part of me that actually wanted there to be a tangible reason for his behavior because that would mean that he wasn’t just sick of us. I don’t want him to be sick — I could never want that — but I did want there to be a reason. But there’s not, unless it’s undiagnosed depression. He was just tired of us being there. And I gotta be honest, it cracked my heart a little. Tomorrow will be a week since we came home, & I still haven’t managed to shake off the funk that descended during the Virginia trip. They are such a huge tie to Mama — the strongest tie to her we have outside the three sisters — & I felt further from her after our visit rather than closer. I think it was that I knew that things would have been so different if she had been there. If she were there, Grandpa wouldn’t have been tired/grumpy/annoyed. & if he had been, Mama would have called him out because that’s what she did. Jennifer & I can’t call out our grandparents…. that’s just not something you do. But Mama could & did… she had the special status that came with being the only daughter.

So yeah. I’m struggling to get back into a place where Christmas is joyous & fun & festive & all that crap. When we got back from VA last Saturday night, it felt like I had lost so much more than a week… that Christmas had crept up on me, & I wasn’t ready, & there’s too much to do, & it’s not the happy, Christmasy busyness… it’s the stressed, will-this-ever-end busyness. I keep remembering the feeling that Grandpa didn’t want me, didn’t want us. And it freaking hurts.

Tomorrow morning, I’m shipping a gigantic box of gifts to Virginia — Jennifer & I went shopping & picked out something for each person that we thought would make them happy. Part of me kept questioning my motive — am I trying to buy their love? Am I trying to make them like me again? But ultimately, I wanted to do it — we spent hours searching for what we hope will be the perfect thing for each person, & I have to believe that it’s something that Mama would have supported us doing… not us just trying to “bribe” our family to love us. There’s a giant box of cheerily wrapped gifts sitting in the living room right now, ready to go to the UPS Store. I hope they like it & don’t think we’re trying to be flashy, or showy, or something. I was wrapping gifts today & packing them into the box, & actually UNwrapped & rewrapped my grandfather’s gift because I was afraid that he would be annoyed by the glittery paper that I used originally, that it would get glitter on his hands & make him mad. Bleh. I really hope his funk is temporary thing — I want my Grandpa back.

So now that I’ve written a ridiculously long epistle, I think I’ll stop. It’s after 2pm & I have much to do tomorrow. I’m glad I wrote. I believe I may feel a smidge better already.