When I was pregnant with the first Impossible Miracle, I had a dream that I foolishly shared with my sister in the presence of Sunshine. It was a typical dream, I think, for pregnant women, filled with angst and worry about motherhood and life with new responsibility. My memory of the dream goes something like this:
I was driving into a parking garage with my newborn in a car seat in the back. The car seat was behind the driver’s seat, so I couldn’t see it while I was driving, but I knew the baby was there. I was really very, very, very, VERY tired (you know, like a new mom), but apparently had somewhere to go. I drove into a parking spot, got out of the car, and walked into what seemed like a large shopping mall leaving the new baby in the car. I walked away, forgetting that I had a baby — far enough away that when I suddenly and finally realized that I had left my precious cargo behind, it would take me a long, long time to run back. When I got back to the car, completely out of breath, I saw the back door opened and the car seat and new baby were gone! I attempted to scream, but I was so breathless from running as hard and fast as I did, that no sound came out…
Frightening. Jarred me from my sleep. Standard. Typical. Not uncommon. Everybody knows that.
My doctor put me on bed rest when I was pregnant (my daughters aren’t called The Impossible Miracles for nothing!), so I was frequently starved for conversation and excitement. I felt starved for news of the outside world. And whenever I had a merciful visitor, I probably talked their ears off because I didn’t get out on my own to interact with other adults — and talking back to the television didn’t count!
Sunshine and my sister, The Tempest, would come over to see me on the weekends. That weekend, I mentioned, more to The Tempest and not so much to Sunshine, that I had been having very vivid dreams. The Tempest was already a Mom, so I thought she would share her experience with past pregnancies. By the way, and this is not at all important to the story, but she didn’t share her experience. She never did. The Tempest claimed to have forgotten everything about pregnancy and birthing babies and newborn care. She was useless to me on these topics.
But I digress. As is my custom.
So when I told the story of my dream, even though I wasn’t speaking directly to Sunshine, since she was in the room, she heard the story and felt free to comment.
Sunshine: Well, the last thing you should do, then, is to take the baby to the mall if the best you can do is to leave the baby in the car.
Me: Wait. Wha? It was a dream…
Sidebar: Have you read this blog before? My reaction is always the same. ‘Wait. Wha?’ Sunshine stuns me to incoherent, non-sensical mumbles and confused silence. That’s not new. I can actually (honestly!) remember having that reaction to something my mother said when I was quite young– maybe 7 or 8. Doesn’t matter what the subject was back then; it wouldn’t make sense if I told you anyway.
Back to the story.
Me: I wouldn’t really leave the baby in the car…
Sunshine: Just make sure you don’t go running to the mall every time the idea pops into your head because you don’t need to go overboard buying things you don’t need!
Another sidebar: You don’t know me. I’m just one of two sisters writing a crazy-sounding blog about our crazy-sounding mother. But I feel compelled to say that Sunshine had nothing to worry about. I am not the daughter who had back then, and still has, quite extreme shopaholic tendencies. I am not the daughter who has more shoes than she has closet space to house. I am not the daughter who would spend her last dollar on another new sweater. Or another new dress. Or more ridiculous fashion jewelry (read: giant orange bangles. Orange!). No. That’s not me. And everybody knows it.
Except Sunshine. To Sunshine, I am a wasteful, out of control spending spender with little regard for how my spending affects the rest of the world.
Sunshine comes to my home and, upon arrival, walks through taking inventory of anything new that we’ve purchased since her last visit. Sometimes it’s just more food in the pantry. (How decadent!) Or a new toy for the Impossible Miracles. (How extravagant!) And sometimes it’s a new sofa. (Just who the hell do I think I am anyway!) But whatever it is, Sunshine concludes that it was wildly expensive, unnecessary, and a waste of the money that I probably could and should have used to do something for her. Buy her a computer (she said that). Or a new kitchen (she said that too). Or a car (not kidding, she said that). Sunshine thinks I’ve stolen a car from her. Every penny I spend, on anything at all, is a theft from Sunshine.
So when Sunshine said, “don’t go running to the mall”, she didn’t mean, ‘just be sure to take care of my Grand Baby!’ — which I might appreciate. She meant, ‘don’t go spending your money on things that aren’t for me’. That’s not a stretch. And here’s how I know I’m right:
The Tempest and I ignored Sunshine on the subject of my dream and skipped ahead to the next topic in the conversation. Tempest and I talked and laughed for the rest of that visit, and Sunshine sat in her corner chair and stewed. That bed rest visit ended with me excitedly yet unwisely telling Tempest and Sunshine to go into what would be the new baby’s room and see the crib that had recently been delivered. Who wouldn’t love to see a new crib? Who wouldn’t be happy to know that Batman and I were prepared to shower our impending arrival with love and pink sparkly ruffles?
Sunshine took one look in the baby’s room and charged back to my sofa perch, wrinkled brow and angry-faced. “You don’t need all that! You’re going crazy spending money, running to the mall already, and you’re supposed to be on bed rest! You’re going crazy spending money and you don’t even think about what you’re doing!” Weary, I deadpanned, “what am I doing, Mom?” “You’re spending every penny and you know that I don’t have…”
I don’t remember what else she said. I stopped listening. She had a list and she needed things and it was my responsibility to get them for her. I had failed my responsibility and I needed chastising. I was spending out of control. I was disobeying doctor’s orders and ignoring bed rest. I was failing to consider others. Feh! I was tired of hearing it.
You don’t know me. So then you don’t know all that I do for my mother. And I won’t tell you because it’s not important. The only thing that matters is that I am confident in my heart that my love and support for my mother is good and just and sufficient. What I must remind myself is that Sunshine will never be satisfied with what I do. So I shouldn’t expect that. Don’t even hope for that. It’s not coming. Because Sunshine sees truth in hormone-induced dreams and injustice in the over-the-top decorations in a first-born baby’s bedroom. I wish I were dreaming about that, but I’m not.