Sunday, September 07, 2008

"His heart was three sizes too small..."

I am a rotten person.
I know this about myself.
I am not kind or loving or particularly nice. I try to make people feel welcome in my home but the graciousness and ease of the natural hostess do not come easily to me.
I tend to yell at my kids more than cuddle them, and my husband has actually complained about my utter lack of physical affection.
I am fairly self-absorbed. I am anti-social and most nights would rather sit at home with a book than go out with friends, regardless of how wonderful my friends are (and miraculously, I do seem to have wonderful friends who put up with me for unbeknownst-to-me reasons).
I tend to like smart people and patronize stupid people.
I am most definitely an elitist. I assure you, Obama's got nothing on me.

I know all these things about myself. I am mostly ok with them because I have tried to fix the ones that bother me (the hostess one) and don't really care about some of them (the elitist part).

But I shocked myself with my reaction this morning to the following incident:

An elderly woman hobbling down the path to her car stopped and made a point of calling to my husband, "Sir! Sir, I was watching you in church and watching you just now, and you are a terrific father, a fine father. I am sure you're a wonderful husband and son too. But I was watching you, and you are a wonderful father."

Did I swell with pride (because H is indeed a fine father, indeed, more than a fine father, an exemplary father)?
Did I mentally pat myself on the back for picking such a good man and having the foresight to marry him?

I pretty much ignored the entire little incident (in my defense, I had my arms full of slobbering, crying baby at the moment) and I thought - snarled - to myself, "What the f*&! am I, chopped liver?"



Jess said...

I get this. I do.

delta said...

I totally get your genuine, visceral reaction to this moment. I do not think it makes you a bad person at all. I think it reveals how human and honest you are.

I am willing to bet that this woman's compliment to your husband had something to do with HER and HER life -- perhaps she did not have an attentive, participatory father. Or an attentive, participatory husband. Or maybe she had great ones and she really misses them! Or maybe she never complimented her father or husband on what great dads they were. Who knows?

Mothers are often the most unappreciated people on this planet. But you know that we all think you are tops!!!

Suse said...

Sounds like a perfectly valid response to me.

After all, YOU were the one carrying a screaming baby, not H. You are not a rotten person.

Anonymous said...

Dads have it easy.

All they have to do is participate in even the most minor way, and they get accolades. Seriously. The mothers at The Boy's school fall all over C because he makes an effort beyond just showing up. Of course, I appreciate that C is a great dad, and that he does more than just phone it in, but . . .

As always, mothers get the short end of the stick.

Hungry in LA said...

Elderly, hobbling, probably shouldn't even be driving. No worries, she'll be dead loooong before you are.

See, that's the kind of thought a rotten person would have. YOU are not a rotten person. Now I on the other hand....

MsCellania said...

Oh, yes, indeedy; I get this.
My spouse is out of down every other week and during the school year, I have no babysitting. I do have a bi-monthly cleaning service, so I do get help with the house. Does ANYBODY offer to help? Friends, family, neighbors? Hell, No.
I went out of town for 5 glorious days last week. I made sure the refrig and pantry were stocked with easy choices and the closets and drawers were full of clean clothing. I left LISTS of whom had to be where and with what!
Two sets of friends and one family member came over or took the boys to help out my husband.
What is worse is they are all now looking to me for payback!

KPB said...

Those old women? Who say that kind of shit?

They are the same women who berate you in the supermarket for not having socks/jumper/full snow-suit on your baby due to the slight breeze outside.

They are one and the same of those old biddies that come up and TOUCH your belly and say you must be due any day when in fact you have months to go.

They are the ones who give their daughter's in law no end of shit and always favoured their sons over their daughters and in doing so insured their daughters suffered all manner of eating disorders and other self esteem issues while their sons have grown to be egotistical fat sexist pigs.

They are the ones who play the old biddy card to try and cut in on the bus/supermarket queue and then hold everyone up as they quibble over the price of their fucking beige knee-hi stockings.

They are the ones I want to kick in the shins.

See, there's a reason we get on.

(PS - I actually said to Jasper today: Jasper, can you please put all of us out of our misery and go and lie down, you need a sleep for everyone's sake. Noice.)

Stomper Girl said...

Chopped liver you're not. Funny, you are.

(I would have felt the same, and I also totally sympathise about being a rotten hostess. All I can think about is how much extra work I have to do while everyone gets to sit around and have fun.)

Jess said...

I had the same reaction as I was reading your story. And I know of so many families with good fathers, where they would never be able to keep their shit together without the mother around. They do a fine job, but have nothing on the patience and endurance of the moms. And that's all gleaned from watching them in church. I'm so going to be that gossipy old lady - but not the kind you ran into.

Jennifer said...

Are you me?

Just checking.

Caterina said...

kim at allconsuming's comments cracked me up :)

I don't think I'm much of a nice person either, but I wear it proudly ;)

I think you are a wonderful least from what I read here. Every time I read your blog I think "four boys...FOUR BOYS!" You are a FANTASTIC mother!

Unknown said...

People tend to be overly generous with praise when it comes to men and children. Your reaction is human, not mean.

I've had my son for only a few days- can't imagine how you do it with 4.

Sarah Louise said...

I get this. And I get you, you anti-social curmudgeon. But seriously, coffee, sometime? Well, maybe in 2010.



Joke said...

I'll leave it to other, far less solipsistic, fathers to defend the guild.

The important bit I can't let go without comment is that a real elitist wouldn't bother going through the agonizing effort of patronizing stupid people.



Kathy said...

I completely understand that reaction. I would have reacted the same way. Mainly because no one ever goes out of their way to tell a woman that she's a good mother, but it seems to surprise people and be deserving of comment when a man is a fine father.

Caro said...

I would have wanted to rip out her hair.

And this post could almost have been written by me.

No wonder you feel like a kindred soul.