“And what are you doing now?” my mother’s cousin asks. I’m at lunch with my mom and some of our family, including three of my great-aunts.
“I’m a dilettante,” I say. Someone has asked me that every couple of days since I got laid off in December, and I finally figured out about a month ago that the best way to explain everything that has kept me busy lately–the blog, the volunteer work, the abortive attempt at opening an Etsy store–is not to explain.
Talking to my family stresses me out. I don’t lie to them, but usually it’s a lot easier to refrain from mentioning certain things. My father’s side is hardest, because I only interact with most of them on facebook except for once every few months, and my dad is still in studious denial about me being anything other than a responsible, upstanding normal heterosexual adult (he gets .5 out of 5 on that score). But I talk to my cousins on my mom’s side all the time, and I see my extended family a thousand miles away more often than I see my dad’s brothers and sister who live across town, and they know me better. It helps, today, that I’m surrounded by women on this end of the table; I still keep mum about the hot mess that is my love life, but we each have know couples who’ve just had babies, and everyone loves talking about babies. My mother’s cousin shows me pictures of her son, who plays professional basketball in Europe, holding her friend’s infant. His hands totally dwarf the baby. It’s pretty adorable.
I don’t know what to say, though, when my mother starts talking about the travails we had getting here on Wednesday, when we left our house in San Antonio at 10:30am and didn’t arrive at my grandparents’ house until 8 that evening. “We were supposed to leave the house at 10, but this one couldn’t get her act together, so we missed breakfast,” she says.
“I had to post a post,” I protest without thinking. “I couldn’t miss two weeks in a row.” I feel like crap even as I say it, knowing full well that I’ve already gone a month without a word from Sunday School. Things have been pretty rough for me lately, but I don’t like making excuses.
“Oh, right, you had to post to your blog,” Mom says. We have just said post three times in six seconds. Not for the first time, I wish I had editorial privileges over conversation.
“What blog?” our cousin asks.
I hesitate, wishing I hadn’t mentioned it in the first place. I don’t know this cousin very well; she and my mother grew up together, and Mom has taken a few years to reach the place of understanding we’re at now. Also, she’s sitting next to her mother, my 95-year-old great aunt.
Whatever, Aunt Louise just mentioned how she went to the doctor this morning to be fitted for new hearing aids. I’m probably safe. “It’s a gay-interest blog,” I say. “Part of a network of feminist sites.” Better not to push my luck with the skepticism angle, I think.
“Oh, cool,” she says. “I have a friend who does that.” One of the assistant pastors at her church, apparently. She and her partner are the ones who just had the baby.
I try not to show how relieved I feel, but I probably didn’t do a very good job of hiding it. The rest of the table starts talking about politics–the recall election is coming up, so of course everybody has an opinion. I think most of my family would really rather that Scott Walker just get hit by a bus or something so they don’t have to endure a month of campaign crap. I’m very worried about Barrett’s chances.
My mom’s cousin asks me, “What did you think about the president’s change of heart?”
I pull up a friend’s response on Twitter that encapsulates my feelings pretty well. Having bitter thoughts about how we congratulate people for being decent human beings when that is the bare minimum we should expect.
“But mostly,” I admit, because I’m not actually quite so cynical as I would like to be, “I’m just annoyed that he waited until right after I posted on Wednesday to make the announcement.”
I know I’m really lucky. I thought that maybe some of you guys would appreciate the reminder that the world is a little bigger and brighter, sometimes, than you think.
Happy Mother’s Day, and tune in next week.
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Featured image by K.C. Green.