For the past few weeks I’ve felt like an undercover social worker observing the seldom normal dynamics of an odd family. My family.
Now, before I go on to reveal the most embarrassing secrets of my relatives, which its revelations will surely exclude me permanently from every future family event (hold on… this might be genius then), I need to start off by saying that I have one of the coolest mothers in the entire universe. I’m sure that’s what everyone says about their mothers (no, wait… that’s what parents say about their own kids), but mine really is. She’s done marathons, triathlons, cycles about forty miles every day and still manages to do every other mother related task the day hands her. In short, she is a freaking super hero.
However, like every super hero Stan Lee has invented has a weakness, Mom has her own custom made kryptonite as well. But instead of making her weak, it makes her angry and instead of being kryptonite, it’s an undefined collection of things you’ll never see coming until it’s too late.
As a result, Mom gets mad but not in the Hulk explosive kind of way that at least your brain registers and sends your body an alarming feeling to run away or search for cover. It’s more in the soft spoken eloquent kind of way Bin Laden expressed for years before suddenly deciding to attack a nation. Fortunately, I haven’t been attacked just yet. However, the distilled desperation of knowing it can be avoided but not knowing how has impaired my judgment and made it impossible to come up with a way to disable the bomb.
There’s no way to figure out what triggers her into turning into the next most terrorizing person in contemporary history. But like the great fictional undercover social worker that I am, I studied the situation carefully, making sure no details would escape my trained eyes. I pondered for hours, compared my daily notes and came to the accurate conclusion that the rage that seems to be coursing through my family can be summarized by what we know as cabin fever.
After years of the house being quite at peace and only being noisy for a maximum of three days (the weekends when we’d all come home), it’s finally crowded again since me and my older brother moved back home after finishing college. And the cabin fever symptoms commenced.
Nobody seems to be able to tolerate each other. Apart from the place being crowded and having nothing to do, we seem to get a kick out of messing with each other until it must sound to the neighbors like someone is about to commit homicide inside our house. My coping mechanism with this dynamic, apart from trying to be the peacemaker nobody likes, is to retreat to my room and sleep long deserved hours.
Mom, who I guess gets it from years of exercise and being the complete definition of a multitasked person, is a person that doesn’t like to stay still for too long and therefore is not very fond with my fantastic coping method. She approached the whole situation as if I was hiding drugs under my bed.
“What is this?!”would be my mother’s reaction to me sleeping until eleven in the morning which to her, equals the effect of doing drugs.
“I’m… sleeping?” I’d answer in confusion.
“Let me tell something to you… (Whenever I hear these words, I immediately feel like I’m five years old again) I will not tolerate this behavior while you wait for a whole semester to pass by and then you start Graduate School.”
Suddenly I felt like I had trashed the entire house by throwing multiple frat parties and hadn’t bothered to apologize. “What behavior?”
“You guys lying around the house and leaving an eternal ass print on the couch from watching too much television!” She really did say that. It was quite epic.
At this point, I try to reason her anger into a calmer state, which I still don’t understand why I haven’t learned it can’t be done. “But Mom… it’s only been two weeks.” I suddenly felt like I was trying to explain to her that two weeks of heavy sleeping wasn’t enough to injure me in the long run, like a smoker or a recreational junkie would say.
“I…don’t…care!!! This is exactly how it starts! First you sleep in a few days a week, then you’re gonna quit your job. Then you’re gonna tell me you are not going to grad school and then you will do nothing but stay here sleeping all the time! So make sure you make yourself busy. Get more hours at work; find another job, a project, anything! But you are not lying around here for the next six months!”
So according to Mom, sleeping was the gateway drug to cutting my life short. Not drinking excessively or mixing with the wrong crowds. Sleeping. I didn’t understand why the intervention treatment was required but suddenly I felt like I had been doing something very horrible that was affecting the entire family. I would’ve used a counter argument and play her The Beatles song I’m only sleeping repeatedly until she’d realize I wasn’t doing anything wrong. But it seemed argument time was over and the decision had already been made for me.
I think any logical person would’ve understood why I felt I’d deserve the right to lie down like a walrus and stare at the ceiling for hours if that’s what I wanted. Or if all I wanted to do was bask in the glory of a heavenly slumber that went on a little longer than the appropriate time and then go mad at the neighbor for mowing his lawn at ten in the morning, I damn well had earned the right! After all, it had only been a few weeks since I’d finish with honors my four year Bachelor’s degree and had tasted true freedom, without any preservatives or low fat ingredient… And I was indulging fully.
Mom hated it.
If she were Stalin, she would’ve killed me by now for being an unsupportive comrade and would have made sure I hadn’t been found until ten years later (I apologize for all the violent references. No idea where they’re coming from).
Ordinarily, I would crumble under pressure and my legs would quiver involuntarily at her mighty roar. My need to please everyone would kick in with a high dosage and get in the way of my doing-nothing-until-I feel-like-it plans. But for now, freedom tastes pretty damn sweet. Like chocolate.
On that note, I love you Mom. In case you ever read it.