Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Tuesday Night in Texas

After a couple of days with my family, I've noticed a subtle shift. Up until this year, I've always thought of my mother as The Mother with my sister and I being Daughters.  My brother and sister have always been siblings - and all of us and our spouses, as they were added to the family group, have been the Children.  When my sister and I started having children, it was pretty much as if we had just added more kids to the mix.  The table is big enough so that we can all sit together - without having to relegate kids to the children's table in the kitchen, although now that my brother's wife's parents have moved to Houston and we're becoming a Clan - we don't all fit anymore.  Five of us had to sit in the kitchen, and arranged the seating alphabetically.

I noticed that everyone - including me - was getting older a couple of years ago during another Christmas in Texas.  I had just turned 50, and Mortality was smacking me in the face for the first time. I spazzed.  Back then, Mother was fully convinced my dad had Alzeihmer's and I was noticing all my own friends still smoking or sucking down an ice cream float while fixing up an insulin shot.  Turned out that some of my dad's medicine was effecting his memory - so now that they changed his meds he's good to go for another decade.

So now that I've figured out that we're not all going to die any time soon - and that, in fact, life goes on, my sister and I seem to be the Mothers with my brother and his wife, JJP, as well as my sister's husband the physicist, occupying the same generational space.  Velvet and his cousins are now the Emerging Generation.  Certainly aging is part of this shift - but I think I've noticed it more this year since Cupcake is with us.   Everyone is getting along beautifully.  My mother made a point of thanking Velvet for bringing home such a pleasant, sensible girl instead of one of the high maintenance lunatics who attached themselves to my brother.

Cupcake has taken a tranquilizer or two, but nobody holds that against her.  The Physicist had to take to his bed the first few times he was around the whole crew.  If I'm remembering correctly, Buzz Kill managed the whole family thing well enough, but I was a nervous wreck in those days.  JJP always fit in pretty well because she had an advantage because her parents and my parents had been friends for years and years before she and my brother got together.  Also, as long as the cats were still alive, Buzz Kill and I typically stayed in a hotel because  Buzz Kill is highly allergic to cats.

Last year, I felt a little resentful at having to share my mother with my sister the whole time - but I was tense on account of Velvet getting suspended for his grades.  This year, even though the semester didn't turn out the way anyone had hoped, we're all proud as can be that Velvet is such a nice fellow, and I have to say that being able to maintain healthy relationships is a hell of lot more important than a college degree.

Hanging out in the kitchen together, or piling into the cars to go out for barbecue like we did this afternoon, there is genuine, warm comraderie in this family (Thing of Beauty #44-101).  Even though I've been a mother for nearly 21 years, and my sister's kids are both teenagers - this is the first time that my mother feels more like The Crone instead of The Mother.  She's called herself Crone whenever she comments on Citydata and other websites for some time now, but in my mind she's been The Mother.  Maybe I felt like an imposter or something since I hadn't come to terms with my own authority and power even as I was exercising it.

Plenty of people - friends and neighbors mostly - call up my mother regularly for instructions on how to fix stuff, or deal with contractors or community disputes.   My dad is also a respected elder in their little community, but I don't know what they call men.  Since the Goddess has always had three faces - Maiden, Mother, Crone - it's easy to see which stage of life we're in.  Mom may have called herself Crone for a few years now, but she is fully Crone now.

The other day, my buddy Gwendolyn Holden Barry and I were talking about archetypes and personality structure.  Gwen looks at that kind of stuff from a mythological, ancestoral perspective where I'm more Jungian about the whole thing - but there's a lot of overlap.  Anyway, it was back when Gwen was first blending up an essensce for me designed to facilitate the healing of my shoulder.  Gwen's business - Daughters of Isis- Ancestor Aromachologie is all about healing essenses.  Anyway Gwen was saying that the Mother is very strong in me - so that even when I'm officially a Crone, I'll still be Mother.  I'm thinking that my mother is such a Crone that she's been Crone even when she was technically still Mother.

That Maiden, Mother, Crone stuff has more to do with seven year cycles than the exact stage of a woman's fertility, but when you're a woman, your cycle is a fundamental part of who you are.  All of us, though, men and women alike, go through stages of life just like the phases of the moon or the seasons of the year.  My parents are going into their winter; my sibs and I are going into the Fall.  Velvet and Cupcake aren't quite ready for summer.  It will come, though   I still think those two may very well be one of those couples that gets together in high school and stays together for a lifetime.  Time will tell.

For now, I'm wondering what time will tell for me next year.  First things first, though.  The minute all the real estate agents get back to work in New York City, I'm buying an apartment and entering into a new phase of life in New York.  The whole time I was married to Buzz Kill, I was living near Central Park.  Since it's at the center of the city, it's like a metaphor for focusing inward on personal identity and stuff like that.  The defining characteristic of my new neighborhood is the Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge which is all about connecting with others.

Meanwhile, I'm happy to say that even though I was very anxious about taking the medicine for my inflammatory arthritis - which is derrived from the chemicals they use for chemotherapy, so in a very real way I was home alone and taking poison on Christmas Eve - my shoulder really is improving.  Even if I am telling myself a lovely little story by looking at the potion Gwen made as an antidote to the poison, when you consider how much of our healing depends on our perception and attitude, I'm fucking-A delighted with this one.

I collected a bit of earth from the yard of the house where I lived when I was young and healthy, and Gwen blended it together with the same things our own Celtic ancestors used as medicines back before the Romans chased them into the woods and called them Witches.  It's like I have my Self returning to myself in a concrete, tangible way to help my body heal.  Maybe there will always be some pain, but I'm the one who decides whether or not there is suffering.

No matter what happens with my shoulder, my home and my potential romance, there's still a lot of suffering in the world.  I'm finally starting to feel well enough again to work toward Being the Change.  There's no denying we're looking at the collapse of the American Empire -and we seem to be taking the Environment down with us.  But the movement is still afloat - and January 20, we'll be Occupying the Courts.

For more information about events across the country, visit: Move to
 I can't think of a better way to mark the anniversary of the Citizens United decission.


ellen abbott said...

Great post. Well, most all your posts are. I've only been reading for a few months now and I'm finally getting the cast of characters straight. I'm sorry you live in NY since I am also from Houston though I currently reside in Wharton, had to get out of the city. I'm 62 next year, my kids are in their early 30s, my grandkids in their teens. I'm definitely not the Mother anymore but I don't think I'm actually the Crone yet. Well, maybe but right now I feel like I know less than I ever did. I guess it's all about shifting perspectives.

Jennifer said...

Last night I read a piece by my friend Steve about the idea of writing about Place, and how describing a place is the first step to knowing it, and understanding it, and understanding its role in the formation of one's self and community. It's not a new idea for me, in fact it's been an underlying preoccupation for a long time, but Steve got this thing to the forefront of my mind again.

And now here you are talking about how being back home has got you thinking about how you always defined you and your family, and the shift in altering that perception. Maybe that does indeed have to do with your shifting place in New York. And acknowledging the river and the bridge at the centre of your consciousness, changing how you look at things.

Rivers, bridges - both are most beautiful and positive symbols, and I'm glad you and your Jungian perspective are making good use of them. It's a beautiful thought, especially as the year comes to a close. For me, beautiful thing number 81.

Jennifer said...

And... maybe the shifting of Americans' minds away from that stale idea of the "American Empire" is a beautiful thing too.

Life As I Know It Now said...

At least you can tolerate, and even get along with, family members. I have been upsetting the applecart lately and getting boos from the family. They think my pending divorce is a terrible idea.

I think they are just attached to the idea that at least one marriage out there has lasted 29 years and hate to see that end. Plus I was always taking care of everyone and now I'm not doing that anymore. I have moved from mother to crone whether they like it or not.

Oh, and I'm having fun with the psychologists I've met recently. He takes care of ME instead of me always being the caretaker and believe me, that is SO nice! :)

Cali said...

Over Christmas dinner my mother, my aunt and I discussed our own aging and how it just isn't any fun. I mentioned that I just don't seem to have any subcutaneous fat left and they talked about their thinning skin, then we all talked about our thinning grey hair, crow's feet and jowls. Because I have so many illnesses and "conditions" I think I feel just as old as they do-- maybe older. I know I've been feeling a lot more "crone-ish" lately than "mother-ish." *sigh* Menopause-- a little dab'll do ya!

You were talking about seven-year cycles, and well, I'm 49. Seven times seven is still 49, right?

Oddly, though, I've been having a resurgence of the libido. I haven't felt the urge to merge in nearly a year. I almost called the boyfriend to see if he was interested, but it passed before his workday ended. I'll ask him today or tomorrow if he's interested in a New Year's Eve rendezvous after he closes the bar.

I think I'll have to take a nap on Saturday. And maybe on Sunday, too. Especially since my beloved Niners play at ten in the FREAKING A.M. on New Year's Day. I'd REALLY like to know who's brilliant idea THAT was! But I've spent so many years celebrating first downs (mostly because we couldn't get a touchdown to save our own souls) that I really feel I deserve to watch when they are actually winning, too.

Oh hell. I may as well just stay up because I want to watch the Rose Parade before the game so I can see the Occupy the Rose Parade contingent. They are planting themselves right across the street from the network booth so they will be right in the line of sight for the cameras pointed at the parade. They will be the first contingent allowed to follow behind the "official" parade, too. I understand that they have four "human floats" planned. I'll be watching both the network parade and OakFoSho's streaming video on Ustream, too. It should be an interesting day. We shall see if I actually make it through.

PENolan said...

Thank you, Ellen. I'm glad you found your way over here. I can certainly see why you wanted to get out of Houston ;)

Jennifer, I have a feeling that 2012 is going to be beautiful in so many ways that we're both going to have to start new lists, or go up to 505 beautiful things.

Libs - I say it's HIGH TIME somebody started taking care of you. Families get all discombobulated when somebody changes the pattern. Hope their perspective starts shifting your way pretty soon.

Cali - Occupy the Rose Parade? I LOVE it. I love OakFoSho too, and am delighted that you turned me on to him. Watch out for that libido surge - it can lead you in surprising directions ;)

Lots of Love and Light to all y'all - the connections we kindred spirits make here on the internet are very important in my life and I'm really, truly grateful you're there.

Cali said...

I just found this out, but this year, because New Year's Day falls on a Sunday, The Rose Parade isn't going to be on until Monday morning. You know, I can't recall it EVER not being New Year's Day before, no matter WHAT day of the week on which it fell, but whatever. I guess they can do whatever they want. I mean, the post office, the banks and heaven knows what else have all taken holidays on the 26th and the 2nd this year, because people MUST have their three-day holiday weekends. Of course people working regular jobs that don't keep banker's hours will still have to work.

Anyway, my point is that I may actually get a few hours of sleep between the wee small hours tryst and the 'Niners game, so yay!

Susan Tiner said...

Patricia, you write so beautifully. I am glad you experienced some family camaraderie over the holidays and am also glad to hear your shoulder is improving. That Cupcake sounds like a keeper.

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