Thoughtful Thursday: Resolute

December 30, 2010

Thoughtful ThursdayAs New Year’s approaches, many people are in the midst of making resolutions to overhaul their lives.

Around our house, one motivation for resolutions has been, “Don’t be like that other person.” A common example: Though DH and I have never smoked, I’ve known others to quit smoking after loved ones were diagnosed with lung cancer.

A few years ago, DH made permanent changes to his diet after his father underwent cardiac bypass surgery.

Exercise jags have followed learning of heart problems from both sides of the family.

Seeing a particular person with a monobrow has sent me straight to the esthetician for waxing.

My MIL’s ingratitude has encouraged my own relentless writing of thank you notes.

A couple of blowhard relatives have inspired both DH and me to curb our own know-it-all tendencies.

There’s nothing like seeing someone else’s muffin top to send you to the mirror to check how your own pants fit.

A loved one almost dies in a car crash? You can bet you’ll drive more carefully from then on.

Do you make resolutions for your own reasons, or has someone inspired you through negative example?

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Thoughtful ThursdayYesterday I had an adventure. Burrito, Tamale, and I met Mekate from I Can’t Whistle, along with her beautiful not-quite-6-week-old daughter. We don’t live near each other, but we each drove a while and met halfway. We went to a holiday crafts fair, had lunch, and did some shopping. It was even more of an adventure for Kate since she is so new to motherhood and Della is so new to this world. Kate was exactly like I thought she’d be: warm, inquisitive, full of wonder, bursting with love for her baby.

If it hadn’t been 20 degrees F (and our babies had been different ages, or playing inside with their daddies), I might have liked to go hiking with Kate and watch her appreciate nature. But the craft fair was great too — it’s nice to go with someone who appreciates the care that artists put into their work and who also has an eye for aesthetics.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve had adventures with other bloggers — and there are many other adventures I would enjoy having with them.

With Lori of Write Mind Open Heart (formerly Weebles Wobblog), and her delightful children, I went to a beautiful chocolate shop (as well as shopping and her house and dinner). Another time we went to the beach. When I’d first told her I was going she’d proposed going to Red Rocks. I’d still love to do that sometime.

With Mel of Stirrup Queens, we went for coffee. That was not so adventurous. Maybe one day my twins and I can accompany Mel and her twins on one of their many adventures — perhaps exploring a quaint town, or picking berries at a farm.

With Dora of My Preconceived Notion, as pregnant women we went looking for tasty treats and shopped in midtown Manhattan and to dinner in the Village. With our babies we went to Central Park. New York is full of so many possible adventures for our next meeting.

I have only hung out with Calliope of Creating Motherhood in a hotel lobby, but now that she’s moved to Philly, I would love to bring our little ones to Sesame Place.

As for adventures with bloggers I haven’t yet met, it would be amazing to visit Wishy from Wishing 4 One in Egypt. Or
Lost in Translation from We Say IVF They Say FIV in France. Or Wiseguy from Woman Anyone? in India. We could do almost anything, given that just being in Egypt/France/India with these lovely ladies would be an adventure in itself.

Choose your own adventure! Pick a blogger and a place to go with them or activity to do with them.

Thoughtful ThursdayA very different topic and tone from the Thanks post a couple of weeks ago…

I like to think that I’m a pretty good gift recipient. I thank the giver verbally, and often with a hand-written note. Even if I don’t like the gift, I find something nice to say. If I do like the gift, I make a point of using it around the giver or telling them about how much I’m enjoying it. With gifts for Burrito and Tamale, I often send the giver photos of the twins using the gift.

My husband warmly expresses gratitude to the giver, but he doesn’t write thank you notes. For gifts to us as a couple or family, he’s off the hook, since I write the collective note. He doesn’t receive many individual gifts except from relatives, for whom thank you notes aren’t necessary anyway (at least as far as he’s concerned). Even with the rare individual gifts he’s received, I have no recollection of him writing a thank you note in the more than 15 years I’ve known him.

I can’t blame him. That’s not how he was raised. His mother is the single worst gift recipient I’ve ever met.

For example, the time that I made her a piece of pottery with her name on it. Not only did she not write a thank you note, she didn’t even say thank you when I handed it to her.

I said something to DH, and apparently he said something to her. The next time I gave her a gift, she lavished facetious thanks and mockingly bowed to me.

After that incident, I vowed never to give her anything again. I failed to keep my vow.

The most recent gift, for a milestone birthday, was a joint gift with my SIL. We — or rather I — had it custom-made. It took me many hours to find someone to make it and then to work with them on the specifications. It wasn’t cheap. When MIL opened it, she histrionically sobbed to indicate how touched she was. But, within a week, she’d regifted it. Then it broke. Then when I arranged to have it repaired (for the sake of the regiftee, I suppose) she said she never liked it and she wanted something else instead. The artisan kindly agreed to return it, and we gave MIL the choice of anything else that artisan could make. She refused and instead told us that she wanted something incredibly specific (and unrelated to the original gift). Something so hideous that I would never give it to anyone, even if it was their heart’s desire. I researched places to find it (of which there aren’t many, since it is hideous) and told my SIL that she could do what she wants with the information but that I had already given my gift and I washed my hands of it.

Then there’s the competition aspect. When MIL gets a gift from us, often her first reaction is to ask whether her ex-husband’s wife (my step-MIL, a.k.a. “the good MIL”) got a similar gift, or a better one, or a worse one. Same thing when DH announced the pregnancy: First reaction, “Does your father know?” Same thing when DH informed her that we planned to move to my mother’s city because my mother is ill. “What about me? You wouldn’t move here if I was sick, would you.”

Don’t get the wrong impression that MIL doesn’t like gifts. In fact, she likes them so much that she commandeers gifts intended for her very elderly mother. Flowers, clothes, even cash.

Earlier this week I mailed a gift to DH’s grandmother, in care of MIL. MIL called to tell me how wonderful it was. I asked if the grandmother had seen it.

MIL: No.
Me: But you’ve seen it? It was wrapped. With her name on it.
MIL: I wanted to see it.
Me: But it was wrapped. With her name on it.
MIL: I was going to a party, and I wanted to show it to people. Because it’s so wonderful! I wish I had one…

And in my mind, again I vowed never to give her anything.

The next day, I stood in line at the post office for half an hour to mail her holiday gift. Apparently I never learn. Either that, or I don’t want to deal with the fallout from giving a gift to everyone else except her (or subject my husband to the fallout). Never mind the fact that I’ve been married to her son for a dozen years, and except for our wedding gift, she’s never given me anything. Unless you count that pain in my ass.

How do you deal with people who don’t express sufficient gratitude?

Thoughtful Thursday

Button up your overcoat
When the wind is free
Take good care of yourself
You belong to the Intelligentsia.

Welcome to the December Intelligentsia, the people who commented on every Thoughtful Thursday post for the month of November.

#22: Wiseguy from Woman Anyone?
#14: Elana from Elana’s Musings
#13: A from Are You Kidding Me?
#6: Strongblonde from Strong Blonde

Thoughtful ThursdayDH and I went to see the new Harry Potter movie this week, the 2nd movie we’ve seen in the theater in a year and half. The part of the movie that struck me the most occurred in the first minute (so spoiler alert, but not really, since it’s the first minute). It turns out that the same scene resonated with Mel. To keep her parents safe from harm by evil wizards who might be searching for her, Hermione erases herself from their memories and literally erases all traces of herself from the family photos.

Even though Mel and I both kept thinking about the same scene, different aspects stuck with us. Mel was troubled by the idea of losing the knowledge of your loved one. She posed the question of whether you’d rather ache with the loss of the person from your life or whether you’d rather forget they’d ever existed.

The angle that I couldn’t stop thinking about was, surprise surprise, related to infertility. Yes, I sobbed and sobbed to think that a child could love her parents so much that she’d remove herself from their lives and their minds. But what really got to me was thinking about the parents’ perspective (which the book and movie don’t portray). They no longer knew they’d ever had a child. What story would they now tell about their childlessness? If a stranger asked if they had any children, they’d have to say no. And if the nosy stranger asked why they’d never had children? Would they construct an explanation of infertility? Of having chosen to live child-free? When Hermione cast the Obliviate spell, did she put anything in their minds to explain why they had no children?

Those of us who have experienced years of infertility have had to answer the same questions from nosy strangers. Do you have any children? Why not? When are you going to have children? Don’t you want children? Don’t you know time is running out? Unlike Hermione’s parents, we’ve held the real answers securely in our minds, but we may have told a very different story to these nosy strangers — or a wide range of stories, depending on who was asking. My concocted story usually involved focusing on my career. That was true, for the first 5 years of marriage. But c’mon, I’d been married 12 years by the time Burrito and Tamale were born. I’ve personally never known anyone who purposely waited 12 years before having children, no matter what their career goals were. Any questioners who got a whiff of the timeline usually backed off. Occasionally, the really nosy strangers who kept pushing would end up with a series of disgruntled facial expressions. Some questions don’t deserve the courtesy of an answer.

What explanations do/did you give to nosy questions about why you didn’t have children (or why you don’t/didn’t have a larger number of children)?