Gerundial Shrundial

September 17, 2010 § 5 Comments

We’re pleased to announce that not only has little so-and-so made great progress on his phonemes but there was evidence of a gerund!

That is a blog post (or a reasonable facsimile of one) posted by Z’s cousin’s trio of parents. Excuse me while I write my own blog post: We’re pleased to announce that Z loves chewing on non-recyclable plastic containers, was served peach puree from conventional stone fruits and their piggybacking pesticide residue sure to muck with her attention span down the road, AND levels a look at her mother of pure and utter confusion when her mother consistently and frantically signs “more food” between spoonfuls until Z opens her mouth and screams in exasperation.

To be fair the gerund-utterer has just turned two and his little sister one — and my brother informed me has finally gotten teeth — which gave me a little thrill of superiority that Z has four upper and lower teeth — large and slightly spaced. (  This is evidence of her Austrian heritage — I keep telling G it means she’s going to look like an Austrian milk-maid and he then informs me that it’s actually ‘Austrian beer-maid’.)

The younger of Z’s cousins is slight and red-headed, pixie-ish and graced with a gentle demeanor — whereas her older brother has, my brother admits now, always been a handful.  Z, though four  months her junior, is much larger than she and of course makes me envision the day when Z is visiting her East coast cousin ensconced in the ivy-covered halls of Harvard and Z is fresh-faced and big-boned visiting from the Big Ten school she attends (yeah, I have baggage, I know, I know…) telling her cousin about going deer hunting with her dad as her cousin looks at her, mouth slightly agape, and offers up that she’s done some very vigorous hiking on Mt. Washington but she hopes to get a more in-depth look at cultures and their relationship to their native foodways during her year abroad in Bretagne.

My brother drives me crazy.  Not as crazy as my mother, but crazy.

I haven’t written much about it here but the significant shift in my brother’s and my relationship has shaken me.  My brother was always like a father to me (oh sure, a father who had his occasional snits and rages but hey, welcome to my family) — protective, steadfast, always present for whatever important occasion in my life.  He’s gay and started a family with a lesbian couple across the cul-de-sac from him and his family-building began, well about three and half years ago — while I was deep in the throes of infertility.

When he first told me about their plan I don’t know that any of us knew how it would play out — they envisioned partial custody (though full legal abdication of his parental rights).  I worried for him knowing how difficult its been for us raising a child in a co-parenting situation — how I always felt that my own life was held in sway by others choices — and worried the same for him.  Old lovers refused to support him seeing nothing but heartbreak down the road; family members arrived en masse for the beautiful baby shower for their son: letterpress invitations, a catered affair underneath a tent in the backyard of an old Cambridge Victorian.

When I arrived to visit my brother’s first-born it was awkward.  The girls didn’t want my mother, nor I, to go to the nanny independently during the day to see the boy — we were to be introduced by one of the mothers or my brother.  We weren’t free to walk across the asphalt to knock on the door but rather had to wait until someone would bring him by.  I liked the mothers, both wonderful and smart, interesting women.  I understood that it was hard for them to know how to proceed and what the boundaries were for us when they were still working it out between the three of them.

I came to understand that my brother’s choice had been to throw in his allegiance, his love and focus  into what he now refers to as ‘his family’ — it isn’t simply that the children are his — but the moms are as well, and since the fight with our mother he has more or less severed that last tie to her.

On the phone he’d said “it seems to strange.  Every year as the holidays approached I’d be thinking — how can I get to Minnesota — how can I get some Mom time” and he paused “but now…”  and I thought about how, regardless of the fact that G, W and I hightailed it to the East coast, that I, deep in the throes of infertility-related depression, came to Cambridge on his urging that “time was wasting” and that I was losing precious time with his then four-month old son — that he has yet to see Z, or, it seems, any plans of it.

It was easier dealing with family when I moved to the mountains.  I tucked myself away and if they wished to see me they could visit — and if not I would build a community of friends who would become my family.

When my brother called last week (he’s been scarce as well except when calling or writing to scold me on not rsvp’ing to one of the mother’s sent birthday invitation for the children) I stepped out of my body for a second and listened to his soliloquy on a recent romantic prospect.  I could have put down the phone, walked away, come back — and I’m not sure he would have known I was gone.

I had a nightmare last week.  I was in a land of high, craggy tree-less mountains that reached directly to the shore of a deep, clear lake.  There was a village that had a small ticket office and an isolated cabin.  My dreams often begin like movies and I remember the opening shot of a boat being rowed on this vast lake shadowed by craggy dark peaks — the encroaching dark and storm.  As the dream progressed I was frantic to get a ticket out — a bus ticket maybe — to leave – my mother and brother were there but G wasn’t and there was this sense that he was gone and gone forever — and I was at the ticket office and didn’t speak the language and it was raining and cold and, oh, did I mention I was naked?

So, I’m taking application for family members.  Apply within.



§ 5 Responses to Gerundial Shrundial

  • Rachel says:

    I love this post. My sister is about 4 hours away and has met the fusspot … well, 3 times. One of which she had a layover and was stuck, one of which we went to visit her, and once she came for 2 days and left after a couple of hours because she was ‘too busy.’ No e-mail or present for the fusspot’s first birthday. It has started to make me doubt my vision of loving, friendly siblings but I have no idea what to do about it. We’re all adults, and we can’t really forge relationships where there are none.

  • Denise says:

    Oh sweet Jesus. For real? That stereotype is so … two dimensional that you forget sometimes they exist (tells you what kind of circles I don’t run in that I can forget).

    The little sister is one? Older than Z? I forgot that. I remember when Gerund was born … the posts …

    P. just got weighed at the Dr. today … 17.5 lbs at 4 months (!!). I thought the Ped was going to tell me I had to stop BFing (BFing + Supplements makes it hard to measure what’s going in). Told me we have to quit feeding him in the night. HAhahahahahahaha. Sure.

    The boundary thing has to be tricky for your brother … as my friend from college (one of a trio) once observed … three is a hard number. The arrangement sounds a little like … open adoption. Only potentially more volatile (emotionally, legally).

    Having kids (and others having kids … or not, as the case may be, and I don’t mean involuntarily) has put all sorts of weird wobbles in a lot of our relationships … family and friends alike. It makes me so sad. I can’t really say that (with the exception of one bff from college for a short time and some of my cousins for a short time) that the family building phase has stregthened ties.

    Your observations, the slights, sound so familiar … especially with M’s sibs. I finally insisted we give up the charade of Christmas gifting (a major PIA with my controlling SIL — the only time she called all year was when she wanted to instruct me about what to buy her kids … not unlike your bro calling only to scold you). It seems that was all there was to the connection and M and I were like … okay … so if there is going to effort expeneded … it’s not going to be shopping for clutter. It should be visiting. And calling. And meaningful contact. Or else let’s all move on.

    I start to blame myself often (a habit) … but then I remember that every time we’ve tried to build bridges we’ve been met with indifference or worse. At this point, I feel like I just need to protect myself, expect nothing, let go of bitter. It’s so odd. The family is demanding yet at the same time only close knit on the surface (so not what I hoped for as an only child with baggage about that status).

    When we held back the news about P (mostly because I didn’t feel like dealing with my parents’ high maintenence anxiety on a daily basis and their enmeshedness before I had to), when we finally told everyone (after we were sure we were out of the woods late in the game), my SIL wrote a note saying something to the effect that … it was “pathetic” that they didn’t know I was pregnant. Um. Okay. If you mean that we’re doing a pathetic job of being a family, I agree. But then what is the point of saying that if you don’t intend to do anything about it? I couldn’t tell if she was flogging me or herself or both of us. Every time I’ve tried to be open to her, her competitiveness rears up and turns me way off. And hey, how bout those brothers? Why aren’t they doing some work on this?

    I think I’ve been looking for my (found) family my whole life. I hope that we don’t get in the way of our kids having more or less the happy family relations that I always wished for.

  • Deathstar says:

    You made me look up gerund – you know how I hate that. Ah, families. When I was a much younger, I prayed I would wake up in the Huxtable family. That didn’t happen. Nor did my birth family in Monaco ever show up. So I built my own family, out of friends, never as much trouble or bother as my own family, but there you go.

    Yet I keep trying to draw everyone together. I have given up all pretense of thinking we’re all going to be one big happy family, but I’ve vowed that the only thing I can do is to be authentic as I possibly can. I’m going to be as REAL as I can be, as COMPASSIONATE as I can be,for the sake of my child. So that he will have something to hold onto after I’m gone – do you know what I mean? Also for the sake of myself – if they don’t truly know who I am, it’s because they chose not to, not that I didn’t give them the chance.

  • Betty M says:

    I think some people just become very self centred when they become parents wanting the world to revolve around the achievements of their offspring and their own ups and downs oblivious of the lives of others. Well those others can’t possibly have stuff happening to them in between keeping up with the lives of the important people. I’m sorry your brother is turning into one of the self centred ones.

  • planningdoesntwork says:

    I think a lot of my decision to live 1700km away from where I grew up has a lot to do with my family. My father specifically. I get along well with my mother, just the common frustrations, but I can’t live near my father. I turn back into the person I was when I was a teenager. I was not happy, nor did I have any self-esteem. So I live far away and can be happy.

    We also don’t live near any of my husband’s family. Some of them are extremely messed up, and some of them are just assholes.

    Sometimes family sucks.

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