Sunday, April 4, 2010

Has the nurturer left the building?

I am not a mom, but I have been known to get into "mommy mode." I nurture. That's what I do. All of my life I have taken care of people.

When my parents split I was fifteen and I told my sister she didn't need a dad because she had me. And that's how the story went for a while. I helped my mom raise Buttercup because mom was working nights and so the three of us became a team.

This "training" or "instinct" or whatever made me quite the nurturer when it came to others. I've always been on top of things, the logical one, the go-to-person. I just had this ability to see things that often go unnoticed and I can juggle quite a lot. As I write this I imagine myself as a waiter confidently holding a pyramid of glasses flowing with champagne. But I think sometimes there's a shortage in the "mommy mode" circuit and the glasses topple.

Yesterday I went to a child's birthday party. There was a young mom there...on the outside you wouldn't know it, but I could tell this woman wanted her child out of her hair... so true to form, I grabbed the kid who was on the breach of a melt down and walked about cooing and showing him the pretty games to distract him from his tantrum. This is my normal behavior. I just observe and I want to help.  

I nurture. I cater.

But  at some point yesterday there must have been a short in my brain. How so? Here's the list:

  1. I left our coats unattended. 
  2. I left the gift-bag for Che's son unattended, and it then went missing. 
  3. I lost track of Che's son at one point who was right next to me then took-off (he was only a few feet away, but my absent-mindedness made me panic).
  4. I let Che's brother coax us into waiting for forty-five minutes to get a meal, when normally I would have said, let's get a rain check since it was getting late and Che's nine year old was hungry and tired (he may say he's not tired, but his manner showed otherwise - besides, kids never admit they're tired when it's fun time not even when they're half asleep). But no. I went along with the crazy plan.

What happened to the nurturer? The go-to-person? The responsible one?

My nurturer's brain did not alert me to our belongings, to the tired child who walked away from the group, nor to the illogical forty five minute wait in an attempt to get dinner. It's like the champagne glasses toppled and I didn't fret - I just licked the champagne off of the floor - almost literally. I know this sounds menial but I didn't put it together until Che saw me touch the floor looking for something then take the same hand to grab food. He stopped me and said, "babe, you just touched the floor and now you want to eat that? That's not like you." Then he said, "you haven't been yourself today."  After explaining what he meant (basically recounting in detail what I've written above) he shrugged it off as me being tired. 

I was dumbfounded.

Was it that I was physically tired or am i just TIRED? There have been times in my life where I have been so tired of taking care of others that I just gave up. I would basically say, "that's it! you're on your own." But yesterday didn't feel like one of those days - I wasn't overwhelmed at all, I was just relaxed. I haven't felt stressed since I got back from vacation and I really don't know if that short circuit is normal or have I just lost my touch?

Does the nurturer button ever just shut off, like a scene from the movie half baked when the character quits his job?