Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Thing with the Parents

Where did I leave off yesterday?

Oh yes.

The prospect of telling my parents that I was pregnant.

My longtime readers might remember how angry they were when I became pregnant the first time around. I was 19. Unmarried. And had just moved into a college dorm at NAU. When I found out I was shocked and then immediately scared, because I knew I had to tell my parents.

My parents.

They always said that I needed to finish college, establish a career, get married and then have children. They made it seem like if I didn't do these things that I would be disowned. I heard the same mantra over and over again, growing up.

When I found out I was pregnant my parents were stationed in Japan. They called once a week and I knew I couldn't tell them over the phone.

So I e-mailed.

And that was when the fireworks began.

My Mom continued to insist that Tom and I had gotten pregnant on purpose, just so we wouldn't have to endure a long distance relationship. Over and over I tried to convince her that it wasn't the case, that it just happened.

I cried a lot.

I hated the fact that I had disappointed my parents, who had given me everything growing up.

I suppose to understand, I'll have to back up a little bit. See, in my family, my Mom worked. She was an Officer in the Air Force. After she had me she thought that she could be a stay at home mother. But when I was about six months old she realized she wanted to work again.

When I first heard this story I thought that she wanted to go back to work because I wasn't good enough.

Now I understand that she went back to work because she knew she couldn't be the kind of mother that I deserved. My mother, she's always been independant and I knew staying at home had to pain her a little bit. As much as she loved me she knew she could make it in the Air Force.

I was put in daycare for a little bit. Both my parents worked. But then one day when my Dad came to pick me up he walked in on the day care providers yelling at us children. He didn't like their tone of voice at all and took me right on out of there. He decided that he'd stay home with me after that.

So yes, I was raised by my father. I'm not saying my mother wasn't there..she was..but I didn't see a lot of her. She always had to work and work and work. I don't blame her anymore. I admit I used to, that I couldn't understand why she'd rather work than spend time with her family.

My mother did it by the way. She became a Colonel.

I knew a part of her hoped that I'd join the Air Force. Or at least do well in a job as she had.

But I knew, deep down, that it wasn't for me.

I knew, when I got pregnant, that it came as a huge blow to my parents. It made them feel as though they didn't raise me right, as if they did something wrong.

The anger over my pregnancy eventually went away. Obviously now they adore Tommy.


I was worried what they might think when they found out I was pregnant again.

And once again, I knew I couldn't tell them over the phone.

Tom said, "That's kind of sad isn't it? That you feel you can't tell your parents things?"

It is. I just feel like I need to constantly be impressing them. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I'm an only child. And it's not just impressing them, but my entire family, both sides, who are all health nuts and extremely opinionated. (Bring up President Bush to my Grandma and she'll yak your ear off about what a bozo he is and how much better it was when President Clinton was in office. It's always startling to see a little old lady get so passionate..)

I typed out an e-mail to my parents. Here it is:

"Now, I dont want you to panic or anything but I just found out that I was pregnant.

No, this isnt some horrible flashback to nearly five years ago, when I first told you the same thing. Remember now that Im 24 and married.

Im not sure if you recall, but I mentioned that Tom and I were going to try for another baby during the summer. We decided on this so wed get a three bedroom home. It would have been so cramped had I gotten pregnant after we moved into a two bedroom home. So we talked it over and decided that yes, this summer would be a good time to try. Plus, we didnt want Tommy to have nothing in common with the baby. Obviously hell be older, but at least he wont be that much older. Hell be five when the baby is born so yes, in theory, that is a huge gap but at the same time hes able to understand and be a helper. Plus when hes off at school itll give me time with the baby.

Now, I know youre worried about school. Youre worried that I will never finish at this rate. Maybe youre even thinking that it would have been better to finish first and then try again. Believe me, I thought that too. But then I thought about how much I wanted another baby, how I felt that Tommy deserved a brother or sister.I just felt like waiting would not be a good idea. Plus Tom and I wanted to have children young, because if the next one is anything like Tommy, at least well have the energy to chase him or her around. I truly believe I was meant to have Tommy young. If I had him in my thirties I think Id have needed a knee replacement from chasing him around so much.

I want to say that I do plan on finishing school. I suppose I dont feel the need to rush, because at the moment we can afford my staying at home with the children. In fact, the more that I think of it, the more I feel like I want to always stay home. Part of the reason is dealing with other peopleyou know Ive never liked that. And yes, I know its a part of life but I honestly dont think Id be happy working. Obviously if we needed the money Id do it but right now were fine. My main passion, as you know, is to write and I hope that one day I can publish a novel. Ill be working on that when were back in the States, maybe even try to find an agent. I have several novels in the works, ideas that are floating around in my headI believe I was put on this Earth to write. Its the only thing Ive ever loved doing.

I want to tell you not to worry. You might be worrying about money but are too polite to bring it up. Ill tell you now that we have enough. Its another reason why we waited for another baby: we wanted to be sure we could support him or her comfortably. When we had Tommy we struggled and I knew I never wanted to go through that again. Also, I wanted to be sure that I was meant to be with Tom. I know that sounds awful, but when we first married I didnt think I could be with him. He seemed lazy, immature and detached from Tommy. But I think he was scared. I know its no excuse but if I had been in the same position, Id have been terrified too. In fact, I was, but after I had Tommy my maternal instincts clicked on and I didnt have the time to be scared.

Tom and I are much better now. True he doesnt seem to comprehend that his dirty clothes belong in the laundry basket and not on our bedroom floor but he has grown up. He plays with Tommy and helps out, and hes a loving husband. He tells me he loves me and gives me back rubs without even having to ask if I need one. Were by no means perfect but I know he loves his family. I know it, because of the way he looks at me and Tommy. And because, whenever we pull up at the base gate and he knows the person working there, that person will peer into the car and say, So is this the family youre always talking about?

I suppose I just dont want you to be disappointed in me. I know you had many hopes and dreams for me, of course I know, because I have those same hopes and dreams for Tommy. I know Im not a college graduate at the moment, but someday I will be. I know I may not have accomplished anything of terrible importance but I know I am a good mother. I know it when Tommy runs over to me with a big smile on his face and wraps his arms around my neck and tells me, I wuv you, Mommy. Im not the perfect housewife, goodness knows Ive never been terribly clean (you know this because of the state of my room growing up) but I always make sure we have dishes to eat from and that the floors are basically clean.

I hope that you arent upset.

Just think, next year there will be another grandchild. Another grandchild that will look at the both of you with love and another child that will call you Nonna and Papa. Another child who will play in the pool and shout, All aboard! when Dad pulls up beside them on a raft.

And just think, well be having the baby in the States. This means no uncomfortable airplane ride. Well, maybe the airplane ride might be a little uncomfortable but at least it wont be hours and hours long.

I love you both very much. And I know you both will still worry a little bit, because thats just what parents do. But know that you raised me right, you raised me to have a good head on my shoulders and I thank you for that.



It took me forever to work out the nerve to hit send. Tom kept saying, "If they're angry, screw them. I'm here this time. If they say anything they'll answer to me."

So I hit send.

And proceeded to chew all my fingernails off.

I checked my e-mail before I went to bed and saw an e-mail from my mother. My pulse quickened. Sweat formed at my temples. I called out, "Tom, they um, they wrote back.." Tom went, "Open it!"

It took me five minutes to finally click on the message.

I closed my eyes briefly, waiting for the blow.

But when I opened them, I saw that my Mom had said she was happy. That she had figured another grandchild would be coming. And she added congratulations.

I let out a deep breath and tears formed in my eyes. "Tom," I said. "Tom they're happy!"

Then my mother called on Sunday, as she always does. She once again said congratulations. Then she said, "I'm so sorry that you felt like you had to send us an e-mail...really, Dad and I are happy."

I suppose I was worried that they'd think I was tossing my college work aside. I was worried that they'd think that I should have finished college first and then had another child. When I explained this to them my Dad said, "Well, you know, I didn't finish college until I was in my forties.."

This is true. My Dad, when he was my age, he was a wanderer. He traveled from place to place...he was one of those guys who everyone believes is mysterious in movies. The drifter. I know he took some classes, enough to work at H & R Block (that's where he worked before he stayed at home with me.) He's so smart, really, and he's a whiz at math. That part didn't pass down to me. Math confuses me. I look at X and Y and I think, "Who cares what it is? It's a freakin' LETTER!"

I know I'll finish college. Some day. But there's no rush. I know for now, my place is at home.

I hope to publish a novel one day.

We'll see.


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