Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Need

CC and I went to a local children's store today to exchange a hat and mitten set I had bought for Chicky. Despite my insistence she stop growing, she seemed to have had a growth spurt and needed a larger size. We were just going to run in, get the next size up, and leave because I had many more errands to do before we needed to head back to preschool for pickup when a family caught my attention on my way to the hat display.

There was a woman about my age with her two young children, the oldest barely out of infancy and the little one around 4 months old, accompanied by someone I assumed to be the woman's mother. The grandmother was pushing the double stroller, casually picking up whatever full price item she liked and adding them to the already huge pile of clothing hanging from the stroller's handle, while the younger woman looked over the racks of discounted 6 month-sized outfits.

"Do the kids have matching Christmas pajamas yet?" she asked her daughter, and without waiting for an answer she added two more pairs of pajamas to her stack. The daughter, seeing what her mother did, sighed with what seemed to be exasperation and went back to looking at the sales rack, shaking her head. She seemed resigned to her mother's shopping spree.

Try as I might I couldn't stop my throat from constricting and my eyes from tearing up. It was exactly something my mom would have done. I could easily put myself in that woman's place and my mom in her mom's. Mom would have spoiled her granddaughter's silly and would have ignored all my pleas to stop buying them things they didn't need. Secretly, of course, I would have loved every second, knowing how much pleasure she would get from dressing up the girls. She would have bought them little trinkets for no reason other than she saw something they would have liked and they were never far from her mind. It would never be about the purchase but what she could do to make her grandchildren happy. All at once I was overcome with longing for the inevitable bickering between us. Five hundred different emotions hit me all at one time.

I coughed, dabbing at my eyes while I knelt down pretending to look at a satin holiday dress I had no intention of buying, willing myself to not turn into a huge puddle of tears in the middle of the store. Sweat started to pool between my shoulder blades and behind my neck. I was alternately furious at the hand life had dealt us and overcome with loss, both for me and my girls. I had a hard time seeing through my anger at the younger woman. I couldn't think straight because I was too busy imagining myself in her place. Honestly, I wanted to shove her for not seeing how good she had it.

Leaving the store seemed like a very good idea at that moment. In my haste I almost forget to grab the larger hat and I would have if I hadn't snagged the arm of my coat on the rack as I rushed by. With it in hand, I pushed the stroller containing a very tired and cranky CC toward the register and waited for the lone sales associate to ring up the three customers in front of me. While we waited the grandmother and her overflowing stroller got in line behind us and CC, the social creature that she is, waved furiously at the woman.

"Hi!" she called. "Hi!!"

"Hi to you," the grandmother replied with a smile. "What a pretty hat you have. Did your mommy get you that hat?"

"Hi!" CC answered. She put her hands in front of her eyes. "Boo!" She cackled at her own game.

The older woman laughed and returned the gesture. "Peek-a-boo!" CC roared with laughter.

I didn't say anything, just smiled and tried to stop the prickly feeling behind my eyes from coming back. So many things my mom missed.

Finally it was my turn at the register. Beside it was a display of fleecy holiday pajamas. Normally I'm put off by those displays, obviously intended to entice the shoppers in line to put more in their cart, but this time I grabbed two pairs, size 12 months and 4T, and put them on the counter with the hat.

"Did you find everything you were looking for today?" the girl asked me.

You don't have what I need in this store, I wanted to say.

"Yes," I answered. In a shaky hand, I signed my name on the credit card machine.

The grandmother smiled at me as I gathered up the shoe CC had thrown while waiting for me. "She's beautiful," she said. "I bet she'll look really cute in those pajamas."

Tears were threatening again. "Thanks," I mumbled over my shoulder as I turned to leave.

I placed the bag with the Christmas pajamas on the handle of our stroller while CC yelled, "Bye bye!" all the way out the door.

42 comments:

Suburb Sierra said...

I know we don't really "know" each other. But: Hugs. And: I'm sorry.

Boston Mamas said...

T, I'm so sorry... I know how you feel. I lost my dad 4 years ago and it definitely seemed way too early for that sort of nonsense, especially considering that my husband still has 2 living grandparents (it was 3 until earlier this year). As you have pointed out, doesn't make sense to compare but it's hard not to, it feels so GD unfair.

Sending hugs to you - the holidays are especially hard... xo Christine

bostonmama79 said...

wow,i'm in tears. i'm sorry. really.

MommyGeek said...

I'm so sorry.

I have a rough time with my mother, but I know how good my girls have it - and how lucky they are to have her for a grandmother. No matter what happens between us, she is always good to my girls, and I try to remember to be thankful for that.

TwoBusy said...

There's something awful about how sneaky grief can be, catching you unready at the most unexpected moments.

I'm sorry, both for what you went through today and for what lies behind it.

Pumpkin Petunia said...

You just put to words what I feel at every sporting event that my children play in. My father should be there, needs to be there, but he is not. And every time a parent tells their father in the stands to not cheer so loud, as if embarrassed by the display of enthusiasm, I secretly want to tell him to cheer louder. There are grandfathers who can't be there to cheer, so cheer much, much louder.

slouchy said...

Oh, babe. Ouch. I know.

Issas Crazy World said...

Huge hugs to you.

Manic Mommy said...

Sigh. Some things don't get easier. I'm very sorry.

Cate said...

So f'ing unfair.

hugs.

d e v a n said...

((hug))

Lynne said...

That just made me sob - because I have the exact same experience all the time. I lost my mom when my older son was 10 months old, now I have an 8 year old and a 4 year old who don't know their grandma.
It is the suckiest thing in the world, and I am so jealous/sad when I see grandmas out and about with their grandkids...
So sorry for your loss.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

(((hugs))) It isn't fair, not a lick. Your beautiful girls and your beautiful mom----they should've known each other.

WorkingMom said...

Someone once told me that grief is a lot like the ocean... one moment, it's as calm as glass, the next minute, huge waves crash over you.

My sympathies on your loss. It's not just losing and then missing the person that breaks your heart, it's living through the moments after that you know they would have shared with you.

Momish said...

Sending you big hugs. That's all I can say or do.

Magpie said...

Oh, that really got to me. My mother wasn't anything like that spendthrift grandma, but still...I think of her often, what would she be getting for my daughter for her birthday, for Christmas - she would have loved the video Mir made - etc.

I know. I'm sorry you're missing your mother. I know.

SciFi Dad said...

No words.

Just an overwhelming urge to hug you, even though you'd probably think it's creepy.

A Vapid Blonde said...

One of my MANY fears is the phone call that will inevitably happen that informs me of one of my pillars passing...and to read your side of things makes me want to not fear that call and to experience the here and now! I wish I could.

Velma said...

This is beautiful writing about a terrible loss. I wish I could grant you a switcharoo and let you be an awful writer with a doting grandmother for your kids. :(

for a different kind of girl said...

My heart wants to reach through the Internet and give you a hug. Grief can sneak up so suddenly and out of nowhere, and I wish you didn't have to experience that today.

Draft Queen said...

Death sucks. No 2 ways about it. I'm sorry you lost your mom.

metro mama said...

I'm crying. I'm sorry. xo

Heather said...

My heart hurt reading this. But I am glad you bought matching PJs. They should have those anyway.

HUGS.

Joe @ IrrationalDad said...

That's so sad. I wish my family was more close knit so that Tyler could have the relationship with his grandparents that you saw in the store.

Life really bites the big one sometimes.

Spring B said...

I'm in tears...at my desk, at work. I so know EXACTLY how you feel. My mom spoiled my baby for the whole 1.5 years she was with us. And now, to not have that, I don't quite know how to act. I feel that I'm selfish because I get upset over not having that grandparent to spoil my baby, but at the same time I'm just hurt. My mother in law tries, but with 3 grandgirls, it's different. My dad hasn't a clue. I hate it. There, I said it. I hate it for myself, I hate it for my Maddie, and I hate it for you, Chicky & CC. Big hugs and lots of love, and although it's crap, know you're not alone...EVER.

This Little Light said...

I'm not a commenter but this one got me. First, I am sorry for your loss. I too am envious of women with doting mothers. In my case, my parents want nothing to do with me or my children. In our case, we are better off without them but the hurt and grief are there nonetheless. My children are now much older - 20, 17 and 15, so I have just a few more years until I can be the doting grandmother that my children did not get to have. That helps. A hug for you.

Maya said...

I can SO relate to this. I lost my mom to colon cancer in 2000.
It is so so so unfair. My kids are really missing out and so am I. I miss my mom everyday and I miss my kids knowing her. My daughter is starting to ask about her and it is BREAKING MY HEART.
She would have been a kick-ass grandma, as I'm sure yours would have too.
Hugs. Thank you for writing this.

Mags said...

I'm so sorry your mom is not here to spoil you and your children....so not fair!!!

wranglerdani.com said...

This was beautiful and brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for sharing.

kgirl said...

Grief delivers a good sucker-punch, huh?
Hope the holidays go easy on you. hugs.

kgirl said...

Grief delivers a good sucker-punch, huh?
Hope the holidays go easy on you. hugs.

Mary G said...

At 67 I still miss my mom, now twenty years gone from us. And at no time more than when my daughter, who is so much like her, told me she was pregnant.
I tell myself she knows, really. Sometimes I can believe it. Other times, I am crying with you.

Lane said...

This post reminded me that I'm a grandchild who never knew her grandma. My mother lost her mom when she was in college. This touched me very deeply. I am so very sorry for your and your daughters' loss. Bless you.

Not Afraid to Use It said...

My husband never really got to his know his grandmothers. One died before he was born, and the other died when he was fairly young. That's one of the reasons my grandmother's death this spring was so hard. She was the grandmother he never had, never knew he needed. But for the sixteen years we have been together, she spoiled him and loved him even though he was in his 30s instead of 3. Sometimes what you lack as a child, you find and appreciate even more as an adult. Not always, but there is hope.

Heather said...

no words, just hugs

(((((((Tania))))))))))

Trenches of Mommyhood said...

A big hug to you from me.

Julie @ The Mom Slant said...

Oh T.

I'm glad you bought those jammies.

Cheryl Lage said...

Awww Honey. Peace.

Ivy League Insecurities said...

Here from Five Star Friday... What a wonderful, tugging story. Resonates with me as I have recently lost my own father. Your kids are lucky to have such a thoughtful and eloquent mother. Thanks for your words.

Anonymous said...

T-this really got me. I am so very sorry you have to go through this pain. I know your Mom is watching those girls and enjoying every minute of their funny and sometimes not so funny ways. She may not be here for the material things and that is what SUCKS. No nice way to say it. Big hugs to you! K

Boy Crazy said...

Big hug from a stranger.

sarahpekkanen said...

This is the first time I've read your blog, and can I just say you're an incredible writer? This brought tears to my eyes....