iamtheinvisiblehand

Archive for January 2012

Before motherhood, going to the movies each week was a given. No matter what was playing, I was sure I’d see it.

Things have changed a lot since then.

The last time I saw all the movies in the run for the Oscars was 6 years ago, right before my daughter was born. That was the year “Crash” won for Best Movie.

Since then, I go to the movies once or twice a month (instead of four or five times) , usually with my daughter in tow, to see The Muppets or Puss in Boots, etc., you know what I mean. And even though I’m not complaining, because I’ve always like kids’ films and never missed a premiere even as a childless adult, I think I have now become an expert in recognizing every single actor’s voice used in animated movies.

Whenever my husband and I find a movie we want to see (The Dark Knight, Inception, Avatar) we set in motion our organization skills so we can have a night out and a few hours to ourselves. And it’s not that it’s difficult, it’s just that we believe that spending the weekend with our daughter is really important, since our time together on weekdays is more restricted.

The other thing is that since our outings are few and far between, we now choose what we’re going to see very carefully so we don’t end up ruining it and wasting those precious hours by not enjoying the movie. That’s why most dramas (the ones requiring tissue and entailing ongoing sobbing) or serious award-winning movies (specifically those awarded in Cannes, Berlin, etc.) are out.

For instance, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” will premiere this Friday (yes, very late compared to the rest of the world, I agree) and we are already setting up the whole thing so we can go. I read all three Stieg Larsson books in a few days and thought they were the best I’d read in a very long time. As if that weren’t enough, my husband and I are huge David Fincher fans, so I seriously doubt we’ll go wrong with this one. 

All this to say that just as these past five years, I haven’t seen any of the movies nominated to the Oscars this year, so I don’t have a clue as to who should win. (That is, other than in the animated Feature Film Category, which I believe should be awarded to Kung Fu Panda 2. If you haven’t seen it yet, do it now – it’s worth the while!).

I saw “Slumdog Millionaire” two weeks ago on TV and thought it was an excellent movie, well made, excellent soundtrack, despite the crude portrayal of what the children endured, which I’m sure is as real as it gets. I also saw True Grit and ended up exhausted with the long journey and the anguish, albeit quite impressed with the Hailee Steinfeld’s performance. I saw “The Hurt Locker” on TV as well but can’t say I particularly enjoyed it. We bought “Black Swan” on DVD, courtesy of my husband, who has a severe weakness when it comes to Natalie Portman AND Mila Kunis, so you can imagine what he thought of the movie…

As a huge “Harry Potter” fan I went to see all 8 movies as well, the last one last year, none of them with my husband because he can’t stand them. I also went to see “The King’s Speech” without my husband (ok, I understand why he wouldn’t want to go), and “Alice in Wonderland”, “How to Train your Dragon”, “Inception”, “Toy Story 3”, “Rio”, “Rango”, “Tangled”, “Kung Fu Panda 2” and I think that ends the list. Please note how many of them are G-rated movies.

So if anyone asks me who should win, I’d have to base my comment on my appreciation of prior roles and on what has happened before. Taking that into account, I would say that it would be nice if a movie that breaks with the tradition wins the Best Movie category, e.g. “The Artist”.

As for the Leading Actress, why is it that Meryl Streep and Glenn Close keep getting nominated each time they’re in a movie? Don’t get me wrong, I believe they are two of the greatest actresses of our time, but the Academy should open the view of their periscope because they are not the only ones out there.  Hopefully, any of the others will win for a change.

About the Leading Actor, I am completely biased, seeing that Gary Oldman is my favorite actor (and sexy as hell) and although he has played many outstanding parts he has never been nominated before, so he should take it home. He is, however, competing against George Clooney (again, he’s good but not thAt good and yet Hollywood seems to idolize him), Brad Pitt (why he hadn’t been nominated before is also a mystery to me), and Demian Bichir and Jean Dujardin, who appear to be just as worthy.

That’s another thing: the press always seems to favor Americans over anyone else, even though the others are just as good. I clearly remember the year fellow Colombian Catalina Sandino was nominated for her part in “Mary Full of Grace”. She was up against Hillary Swank, Annette Bening, Imelda Staunton and I think someone else. It was clear to the press that the only ones competing were Hillary Swank and Annette Bening. None of the others were ever mentioned. Of course, they were proven right in the end, but honestly, I assume the others were nominated for a reason, not just to fill out a minimum. And they are now doing the same thing with Clooney and Pitt. Shame.

So anyway, another year has passed and I am still out of the Oscar-loop. Sigh. Oh well, there are worse things.

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My five year-old daughter finally pronounced these piercing words to me yesterday. It felt like I was being stabbed to death, or at least what I assume it must feel like.

She’d been acting up for some time now and the day before, she decided to throw away her dinner in the garbage and then lie to me about it. So, she had been warned that there would be no movies or TV the next few days and that she would have to stay in her room as soon she got home from school.

She was truly sad, I could tell by the way she was crying, but I knew I just couldn’t let this one go. I had to follow through with the punishment, come what may. First, she just begged and tried to negotiate, as only little ones can do. Any adult who’s tried ignoring a toddler with negotiation skills knows what I’m talking about, because even though you are sure you have it covered, after a while you figure out that you have yielded something you didn’t mean to and suddenly you have agreed to do things you hadn’t even thought of to begin with. (That happens a lot to my mother and my mother in law when they’re trying to deal with my daughter, the expert negotiator. It’s amazing how, as adults, we think we have everything under control when it comes to our kids, until we realize that we don’t).

A few minutes later, seeing that I wasn’t budging, she then said she would never play or have fun with me again. The point of the knife’s blade started sinking into my heart at this point. And then she told me “I don’t love you anymore, mommy, and I’m serious”. And that was that.

The worst part is, at the time she said it, she probably meant it, even though by bedtime she was her usual sweet self.

I know that as parents it’s up to us to guide our kids so they grow up to be good, responsible people. I know that everything I do is for my daughter’s own good, even if she can’t (and will probably never) appreciate or understand it.

So does this mean that if my daughter tells me she hates me (which will surely come again at some point in the not-so-far-away future)  it’s because I’m doing my job right? Because if it is, then these 5 years will have been the shortest ride into adolescence. Ever.

Honestly, I was expecting this type of behavior 10 years from now (I know, too optimistic, right?), but not now when my daughter is supposed to be sweet, innocent, good and pure, but most of all, willing to go along with mommy’s instructions.

Wow, this was a rough awakening!

I know kids have changed a lot since I was a kid myself. I remember being an obedient and respectful child (most of the time) because I knew the consequences of bad behavior were serious and proportional to the infraction. And I remember most of my friends were raised the same way too, so in general, we were all more or less well-behaved.

I also remember just trying to swallow my veggies with a mouthful of something else to help them go down, because they would not go down on their own, and not even attempting to persuade my parents not to make me eat them because that road would lead nowhere.

Tantrums, whining and all these other unpleasant scenes were swiftly dealt with and the urge to start them wore off immediately because they weren’t tolerated. At all.

But I see kids like my daughter now, and I have to marvel (or freak out is more like it) at how much things have changed in 30 years since I was her age.

It’s not just my daughter, who at age 5 is already acting like a teenage drama queen and diva, but all her friends as well. 

I don’t know if we (and by we I’m referring to the generation of parents ranging from age 25 to 40)  have become pushover parents because we were so restricted as children, or if we just don’t have the guts to be strict parents, but something is seriously wrong.  

I consider myself to be a strict parent, and so is my husband. This doesn’t make her declaring her absence of love for me any easier. I’ve tried to instill in her that actions – good and bad – have consequences and that she must accept what comes to her accordingly. I’ve had to do many things in my attempt to teach her right from wrong. And yet I feel I am failing horribly.

I know I’m not a pushover, but I also don’t feel the need of being as strict as my parents were with me, so where on earth is the middle of that?

I don’t appreciate my daughter’s efforts at negotiation, because at some point she must realize that there are some things that can’t be avoided and just have to be done no matter what (picking up her toys after playing, eating her meals, going to bed when she’s told to, etc.). I do, however, let her speak her mind even though I know that the answer is no.

I’m not an absent mother and my husband is not an absent father either and I feel she is well looked after and has everything she needs, nothing more, nothing less. So where is she (and all her friends) getting all this attitude?  Do they know something we don’t? Or is just that we are such bad examples that they disregard everything we say and do?

All I know is I was hoping I would still have some more peaceful years before age, growth and maturity kicked in, but I see the new generation is way ahead of us.

I don’t know where the phrase “familiarity breeds contempt” came from or whom (the darn who/whom dilemma – TBD in another blog!) we should thank for coming up with it, but it is 100% accurate.

Our family, or at least the people we are close to, are the people we should respect the most and be grateful for every single day, and yet I find that  it’s the hardest thing to do. 

I mean, think, for instance, how many times you’ve evaded a call from your mother. Or how many times in your life you’ve been decent towards your sibling (s).

I, for once, am guilty on all counts, and it’s not that I don’t love these people: it’s just that sometimes I just can’t stand them. Familiarity breeds contempt.

Now, I know, say in the U.S., it’s common to send your elderly parents to a nursing/retirement home according to their needs and what the kids can afford, but that is not as common in other latitudes, no matter how practical it may be. On this side of the American continent, it’s quite rare to do such a thing. Of course, it’s also quite rare to leave your parents’ house before you’re 25-30 and you only do so if you’re getting married or have a decent job that pays you enough to support yourself.

Even though my mother is fine and quite able to fend for herself, she is well aware that if and when the moment comes, she will be placed in the nicest home we can find for her, because none of us is willing to sacrifice our relationship (and by that I mean the relationship between her and her daughters) for the sake of not feeling guilty for not taking care of her ourselves, when we are clearly not capable of doing so properly. 

My grandmother, however, is another story entirely. She just turned 94 and although she is as lucid as she was 30 years ago, her body just won’t do her bidding anymore. Since she lives with my mother, my mother has had to hire someone to take care of her around the clock. Needless to say, that is the one expense that takes up most of her pension.

My mother would never allow herself to place her own mother in a home because the guilt would probably kill her, and my grandmother would probably die of boredom and depression, thus increasing the guilt of my mother, etc..

But you see, the true contempt here is not between my mother and her mother, but between her brothers and her and her brothers and their mother (my grandma). You see, all this time my mother has been taking care of my grandma, her brothers – my uncles – have barely even tried helping her, and I’m not restricting this to financial issues.

Brother # 1, the one who helped her out and was definitely closest to her, was killed almost 9 years ago, so that was that. Brother # 2 is the most miserable miser I’ve ever met: although he worked his whole life in the banking system – in Senior positions, by the way – for reasons unknown, he has always claimed to be broke (which I know for a fact is a big fat lie). He is so thoughtless and stingy that knowing that my poor grandma can barely chew on mashed potatoes, when it’s his turn to buy her lunch on the weekend he buys her a sandwich. Brother # 3 helped her until he lost everything he had when Stanford Eagle fell. The guy had invested his own money and his company’s money there. And despite being quite a far way from classifying as broke, he now claims he is so he won’t have to help out. And Brother # 4, well, even though he helps with grandma’s diaper and medical bills, he is not doing half what he could, seeing that he might as well have won the lottery with the amount of money he makes.

Money is just one part of the problem. The other is that they rarely visit her (grandma, their mother) or talk to her or show their concern for her. I think that that’s the worst part. When they do show up, they watch TV, read or talk to somebody else, but they don’t really interact with her. They know that she is there, but she might as well be another painting on the wall with the amount of attention they pay to her.

Having been raised by my grandma between ages 8 and 13, I know that she wasn’t the most affectionate or patient caretaker and I can’t imagine what a full childhood with her must have been like and what my mother and her brothers must have endured. But still, she is their mother, she raised them and she was there for them when they needed her. Why, then, are her boys like this? How can anyone be so cold towards their own mother, especially now that she is 94 and completely helpless. Why is it that now that she needs them they treat her like a nuisance?

I’ve even thought it might be a gender thing, but I don’t like generalizations so I’ll avoid them altogether.

The other  part that has caught my attention is that my family’s case is not the only one – it’s now more like an epidemic. Everywhere I go, and almost everyone I know has the same issues with some elderly family member and I think that that is just plain sad. And it’s sad not only because of everything I’ve just mentioned, but especially because it shows quite clearly that somewhere down the road we lost our humanity and our compassion.  We are no longer grateful. We don’t want to be burdened with things that we feel are not our problem. We no longer care that we have a family, that we are part of a larger structure and as such can’t just ignore what happens to each and every part of that structure.

The hardest part is that I know they love their mother. They just can’t and won’t be bothered.



  • None
  • Carrie Rubin: I don't always remember names well, but I remember circumstances. I especially remembered yours because it's such a rare cancer, and you were the firs
  • iamtheinvisiblehand: Thank you for your kind words, but also thank you for remembering it was me....it's amazing that you'd remember this considering the endless stream of
  • Carrie Rubin: I am so sorry to hear about your mother. After you commented on my blog yesterday, I remembered that your mother was the one who had cholangiocarcinom

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