Saturday, March 31, 2012

When the wrong people have the right reaction.


Some might call this an ode to Momma B. For those of you who know her, you know she is pretty damn amazing. I consider her not only my mom, but a best friend, pseudo sister, secret keeper, and role model.

These are all reasons why, for a solid twelve hours now, I have been able to do nothing but think about her. Twelve hours might seem like just fiddle sticks to you, but considering I just attempted my first run since being diagnosed with a(nother) bout of bronchitis on Tuesday and felt like my lungs were dying, and still was thinking about this and only this (and my lungs... dying... slowly... not sure how I am supposed to muster up 12 miles tomorrow...), I'm hoping that says something. Not to mention that I usually do and/or think about fifty-seven things at one time in any given hour because I don't understand what it means to "relax" and I think taking naps are something in the realm of Ridiculous.

What does my mom have to do with my wedding planning? A lot. In an effort to be as real as possible (and hopefully not make my mom blush - but I apologize in advance, if so), I want to share my moment of what, at the time, actually felt closest to "terror, " but likely was more akin to just sadness mixed with guilt mixed with a little bit of anger (not at my mom). Here goes... (and bear with the fact that I am totally incapable of telling a short and to the point story, it's impossible for me).

I have been ill for about a month. Mono is a terrible beast that won't leave me alone. This week my immune system was apparently not on the look-out (taking some time off, I guess?) and I also came down with bronchitis. In the midst of training for a marathon, this was a less than welcome sickness (I know, it's not like two months from now I would have been outside doing the bronchitis dance like a kid in Michigan praying for a snow day - nevertheless, it is really bad timing). I was hoping to feel better by last night to play in our Friday night co-ed softball league (yes, my lesbian partner and I play softball - I know, shocking) but no dice. Nevertheless,  I had a duty to bring my light-as-a-feather mint green softball bat to the game so I ponied up, made a cocktail (naturally the healthy thing to do), and we headed out. I should mention that my lady came just shy of breaking her hand at last Friday's game when a girl stomped on her hand and made it swell up to the size of a golf ball in minutes. We were both on the disabled list.

package contents :)
While we were at the game my mom texted me. We had chatted briefly earlier in the day when I had called her to thank her for the package she had sent... the delightfully thoughtful package that only my mom would send (I only say that because as usual, although packed with delightful things, she never includes any type of note, card etc. which I have always just found hilarious - she knows this).
more package contents!

She was, as always, swamped with work and she needed to go, which was totally fine by me... it was still hard to speak without running out of air in my lungs and since I was using my mouth to breathe because my nose was so stuffed up, it just posed a real problem to hold lengthy conversation.

Back to the text. I don't see my mom's text right away as I was busy with my coaching and cheering duties, but later saw it. It was the last day of Spring Break for all my friends (who are, naturally, mostly teachers) so a friend was having and end of week bash post-game. When we arrived at his house I checked my phone and saw she had wondered if I was up to anything tonight, without thinking anything of it I quickly texted back that we had had a softball game (which I didn't play in) and yes, I was indeed out. Games of all varieties (to be fair, in the sub category of drinking varieties only) ensued, and I completely lost track of time.

I drove us home (yes, it was safe, I hadn't been drinking since we got to the end of break bash) and when I got home I saw the texts from my mom and my heart just sank. Plummeted. I felt like the most terrible (and unappreciative) daughter and was about to swear off blogging. My mom had clearly read my post from earlier that day and thought it was about her. Now, to be fair, this just goes to show that we Boven women tend to apologize way to much and put way to much responsibility and accountability on our own shoulders without cause to - especially if you knew how my mother has been with regard to my relationship with my partner for last several years. Both she and my dad love me and my partner so very much. We vacation together, we hang out together (when in the same city) and in general it is very clear that we are a genuinely happy family.

After having done this whole "engaged" thing once before (in order to maintain class and avoid being hurtful, I will not delve any farther into this oddity as it suffices to say that young people make can make brash decisions but luckily we were both smart enough to know that, make a very difficult and guilt-filled but good decision to end it, and we are both much happier people now for it), I told my partner that my number one non-negotiable going into this, before we bought the rings, is my family needed to be involved from the get-go.

After we bought the rings we sat down and decided how we would plan out the next few weeks leading up to getting engaged so that we could include family in it. Lucky for us, my mom was coming out within a couple short weeks of the rings being purchased so we knew it would work out perfectly. I desperately wanted to give my mom the opportunity to react just as she wished she would have when I first spilled the beans, "hey mom! i'm dating a woman and yes I realize that right now this feels like it crushes every idea, notion, and life-plan you have had for me since I was born! cheerio!" After hearing how much guilt she harbored around that (which, to be fair, was not even close to as bad of a reaction as she had made it out to be in her head) over this past winter break, I was really looking forward to getting to share this with her before anyone else knew and have her be "in-the-know." When she was here in early March my partner and I both (separately) told her and she was very happy for us. She played the perfect mom card of , "as long as you are happy" which is what she would have said regardless of if I was telling her I was marrying man, woman, or anything else (err?). A huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders, my mom knew, was happy for us, and I was going to get to put-a-ring-on-it soon!

My mom is amazing. She never ceases to stop learning and trying to experience new things in the world around her - even weird, unfamiliar, or scary things that don't make sense to her or fit into the way she grew up and was raised. She loves unconditionally and has taught me to do the same. I am not perfect in that, but I try.

All of this leads up to why this text message (yes, that you are finally going to get to read) made me feel such terror...

Moral of the story? (is there one?)
This one might be a bit lost, but if there is one thing I do - even if I tell every story in a fashion that makes it about seven times as long as it needs to be - I always have a point, or "moral," as I usually say in conversation (and often in meetings at work when I have been rambling and realize I need to shut up and end my thought quickly).  Anyway, the whole reason for this post and what really got me thinking about how this relates to my wedding planning (besides the fact that this blog sparked the whole thing), was a comment my partner said to me as she was grabbing a quart of ice cream out of the freezer when we got home last night....

"Why is it that the wrong people always have the right reaction?"

At first I was confused (it seemed pretty deep given the time of day and other factors). Then I realized it, A of all: actually made sense and B of all: rang very true. No, I don't think it is actually all that deep or thought provoking (I feel compelled to acknowledge this as the pretentious part of my body was just screaming out in agony, really ashley?!?!?! this is "deep"? this is obvious!). But it is a great caption for this whole scenario that played out and aligns to the (what I find to be) uncomfortable (and borderline naive? uninformed?) behavior found in my post yesterday.

Not everyone will always have the reaction you want - this goes for news about your wedding, your job, your house or even your new haircut. However, it's almost guarantee-able that it doesn't make sense to fret over those reactions or likely even confront those reactions (anytime soon after the initial reaction - when time has passed, go for it, old wounds heal easy), as there is a reason people react how they do - it is based on what they have experienced in life and what they know and feel. Not even a four page thesis I write on my blog can change those experiences, that knowledge, and their feelings (only they can, over time, purposefully). Instead, someone like my mom, who had no reason to feel any type of guilt, did. You can't force people to have the reaction you want - it wouldn't be a "reaction" then. My blog post yesterday wasn't meant to immediately change anyone's reaction or feelings. Better yet, I even learned as a result of this whole thing that the people it will strike a chord with most are the people who already get it. Of course.

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