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7:54 p.m. - 2012-05-06
mom graduated! I registered to be a lesbian!
My mom graduated from nursing school!!! Go mom!!!

And perhaps to underline what an accomplishment it is to go from being a stay-at-home-mom for 30 years to a new divorcee with no work experience and no college diploma to a nursing school grad at age 58, she had to graduate THREE times, three ceremonies over two days. And because we are very proud of her, my brother, my two preschoolers and I attended ALL THREE of them. Go US!!!

The first was Friday night at the local campus near my mom's house -- a ceremony and dinner for the 27 local grads and their families. The next day we drove two hours north the state nursing school graduation in Norwich, in the morning -- 128 grads getting pinned and diplomaed. Then in the afternoon, it was all the students of the state college programs -- one thousand something.

Of course this took hours and hours and hours as one would expect. I had the kids outside most of the time, and in the afternoon my mom's friend G. watched Mar while cashy and I took a long, long walk to the center of town to get an ice cream. It was probably a mile and a half each way, but he walked most of it, shouting "no!" each time I wanted to pick him up and give his little legs a break. This walk wasn't nearly long enough for us to miss mom's getting her diploma (for the third time) however; we loitered outside another hour until they got to the C's and I rushed the kids inside and took up position to "yell for grandma."

As a side note, my mother embarassed the hell out of me and my three brothers throughout our school sports years by being the loudest parent on the sidelines. My mom grew up in NYC and does this taxi-hailing whistle by sticking two fingers in her mouth that I have never been able to do myself -- it is far louder than a policeman-style whistle and not quite at the decibel level of an airhorn but close. (This is how she used to call us home for dinner when we were over the hills and far away on the ol' farm in Vermont -- some of my neighbors used gongs to summon their families and the sane ones used walkie-talkies...)

So I can't whistle, but I sure can yell. Vermonters are a restrained bunch and they clap politely at graduations, particularly college graduations, but I figured this was a chance to give my mom a little of that soccer-game lovin' back and so my kids and I jumped up on folding chairs and screamed. Two of my brothers couldn't attend because of military obligations -- one is stationed in Japan and the other is in Montana for training right now -- so I figured we should make up the difference and then some. We were quite loud and people stared. Screw them! I was slightly embarassed but not enough to tone it down.

So I actually spent three days with my mom which is a record; usually I just want to flee but she was much less critical than usual, probably because she is happy and quite justifiably proud of herself. In general I think I am a disappointment to my mom as a daughter -- I'm her only and we're not very close and don't have much in common -- but at least this weekend, I think I was satisfactory. She mumbled about not wanting to go to all three graduations, how dumb, and a pain in the ass... and Patrick (my oldest little brother) and I told her, "You're not planning on graduating again anytime soon, right? Well, why dontcha go to all three?" So we did, and it was long, repetitive and a huge pain in the ass, but I think that she had wanted to go to all three and needed us to say that we wanted her to do that.

When we FINALLY got back my darling brother took her out to dinner, and after she asked if I would be insulted if she did -- my kids were fried and not retaurant material at that point -- she went. I was not the least bit insulted and thrilled and amazed as always that my little brothers are such great people. (My brothers, of course, are not at all a disappointment to my mom. They're all model sons. They're better people than I am -- I admire them and they make me feel inadequate and wanting...) (Of course my other brothers called several times from Montana and Japan even though they couldn't be there...)

On Sunday Mom was working again, her usual -- she's been doing home health care full time to put herself through nursing school -- she came home at 11 to have lunch with me and the kids, and then Patrick came over to mow my mom's lawn, and then Susan came over and spent the afternoon with us.

And seeing Susan always makes me super-happy because she is just one of my favorite people in the world and, I suspect, probably always will be. Since it was afternoon and we were at my mom's I banished the kids to separate rooms for quiet/nap time and we actually got to talk, which is something that wasn't possible the last few times when we were at her house.

The kids are definitely changing our relationship, and I think maybe underlining the age difference to her, I think. And yes, this has bothered me. We became friends because we were both reporters -- competing reporters -- and although she was much older, and better, I was damn good and I earned her respect. We could talk about journalism things like equals and every now and then she would say, "You're so YOUNG, M!" like she had just realized it and it surprised her. We were both single career women, cutthroat reporters, with no kids.

But now I don't report anymore and I have kids, and S has lost her mom and her dad in the past couple of years and had a couple of close friends get very sick, and is coming up on her 40th high school reunion, and I think is feeling, well, a lot older than I am. Every time I see her she says something about wishing she had had kids when she was my age, or something about how her longtime friends have grandkids or probably will soon. I admit this bothers me slightly because it feels like she is distancing herself from me.

And I've also been slightly bothered that she always wants "you and the kids" to come see her and is NOT just being polite; I find myself wondering if she wants them as a buffer between us because she doesn't want to actually have a conversation with me like we used to have ... I am glad my kids make her happy and if it makes her happy I would love for them to be like surrogate grandkids to her, but if that makes me a surrogate kid, I am not fine with that. I want S. as a friend, not a parent.

Luckily I have figured out a few sane-ifying things now that I am over 30, and that is that in friendships there are no deadlines, not really -- you don't build and finalize the roles and structure of a friendship a certain way by a certain date and then it's set in stone forever. Relationships get older and change and have their ups and downs just like people do. So if S thinks of me as much younger right now so be it -- after all, when I first met her I thought she was the devil incarnate.

Things change.

When I locked the kids in the broom closet (OOPS I mean sent them to take Quiet Time!!) we actually got to talk and it was good but not enough ... for me anyway.

In other news, on Friday night at my mom's FIRST graduation, after dinner Cashy hit the dance floor and seemed particularly attracted to a very butch woman who could have been his twin, with the matching button-down shirt and vest and dress pants and haircut ... she danced with him and I ended up dancing near her quite a lot under the guise of keeping tabs on my 2-1/2-year-old dance maniac. Exchanged smiles and eye contact. Briefly touched her on the shoulder and yelled in her ear a thank-you...

They say that when heterosexual men get out of prison they are madly attracted to anything female and I think I am having a similar experience with women now that I've started to allow myself to think that way sometimes. In other words, I am madly attracted to anything that appears to be, or I know to be, a lesbian. Didn't I think I'm not attracted to butch women? This woman could not have been more butch. And here I am feeling like if I don't find a way to give her my phone number the world will end. I didn't, FYI -- she's in my mom's nursing class and she knew I'm my mom's daughter, and that is not something I would want my mom finding out about. As I kept telling myself, this is not the only apparently gay woman on the planet. There are more; if you look you can probably find one...

Afterwards I asked my mom who she was, and (hopefully seeming just curious) extracted that she's Stacy, she's a female-to-male transsexual who no longer has the boobs but still has the "parts," that she dates women, and that she's in a committed relationship with one. OK, glad I didn't do the phone number thing!!

A few hours later I bit the bullet and registered on a lesbian dating site that M's girlfriend had recommened to me. (Anyone looking for updates on her will have to wait ... that's anohter entry...) I got one message almost immediately from a woman who is literate, understands basic English sentence structure, lives near me, has little kids, seems happy and sane, and doesn't have green hair or a bone through her nostrils... HOLY SHIT! Nothing nearly as promising since, though...

I haven't responded, though. It would be like me to just dismantle my profile and disappear without responding, scared shitless that "someone might find out" that I had identified myself as gay. I DO NOT have a problem with other people being gay; I totally support gay marriage; I am totally comfortable walking down Main Street in my hometown with a guy in a sequined dress and stilettos (and have done it more than once), but I am TOTALLY homophobic when it comes to ME. I have a major, major problem with me being gay. Don't even want to write it here ... want to put in the qualifier "maybe" ...

I like every single thing about the heterosexual lifestyle except the way men look, feel, smell, act, talk and, well, are. I like the social recognition, success, acceptance, gender roles, the way having a man in my life defines me.... everything but the man, I suppose.

But who can have everything?



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