not the pumpkin

I can remember when I last participated in Hallowe’en. Fall 2008. I was living in northwest New Mexico. I had just adopted a new rescue dog, husky-mix Lily. She was the ideal dog! She knew all her commands– sit, stay, shake, lie down, treat, ride, walk and she could give you “five”.

Until Halloween night. I bought a huge amount of treats. I was so ready for this. Then the doorbell rang. Lily was apoplectic. She raced to the door, clawing at the door frame snarling, saliva flying– she was her own night of terror.  I had to find a way to hold her back, open the door and stick the bowl of candy out the door. Fistfuls were taken I am sure but I was so relieved to shut that door. Half a minute later the entire scene threatened to repeat but, though I heard Lily she was not at the door. I opened the door, gasped at the little monsters waiting their cavity-inducers and closed the door to see Lily standing on the baby grand piano barking in a complete frenzy.

Ok so this won’t work. I took the bowl, poured the other bags of candy and set it at the end of the walkway, turned out the lights and went to bed.

Lily was at peace.

So this year my son called me walking on his way home from work to let me know he would be nearby this weekend for a meeting and would like to come see me. I was so happy! But he sounded a little hesitant. The only reason I can think is because his live-in girlfriend and I have never actually found a common ground. Except my son, which she seems to lord over me. Why I have no idea because clearly, the relationship each of us has is vastly different. But the tension is there all the same. She is ‘New Age-y’, I am conventionally traditional. My son is stuck in the middle.

So we chatted about the weekend and he explained he was juggling a bag of groceries, the phone and a large pumpkin for Halloween.

That stopped me. The image I had was not the literal items he mentioned but the other things in his life– his girlfriend, his work, and me. So I said, “I don’t want to be the pumpkin.”

“What?!” he said.

I explained what he was doing right at that moment was kind of exemplary of other things he was also juggling in his life and I did not simply want to be something superfluous in his life that he would eventually throw away.

Sometimes my worry fantasies are a bit far-fetched. I guess this one was.

A little history: My parents were traditional in that they belonged to the country club, took the family to church (most) Sundays, every major holiday, saw to it we had a good education. Beyond that their lives were consumed with (Dad’s) executive jet-setting, Mom’s golf, book club, junior league, garden club, DAR, bridge club and travel with Dad. I do not take after them much at all. They were unconventional in that we the children fell in there somewhere but inconsistently. We weren’t the pumpkin but we were sometimes rather incidental unless and until we had trouble. My brother? Never. Me? often.

Anyway, sadly my son has nothing whatever to do with the life I knew growing up. He is innocent. Yet I carry this baggage around and sometimes say or think things totally irrelevant to a situation. Because of that history.

Insecurity factors in I suppose, but still.

I do not ever want to be the pumpkin


Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.”   
 –Psalm 139:16

13 thoughts on “not the pumpkin

  1. Ekurie, your story is poignant. From your “perfect” dog “Lily,” spoiling your Halloween, to your son’s choice of a girlfriend who “doesn’t have common ground with you,” to the main issue your parents. God has fashioned you and numbered your days. He plans to give you the best and will never leave or forsake you. He loves you so much. Forgive your parents for not being there, treating you as incidental, and neglecting your emotional needs. Let go of the pain, so it doesn’t repeat itself with your son and his girlfriend. It is a process. Blessings!

  2. My stepson had a girlfriend who acted as if she was winning a contest by being first in his life ahead of us. At one point, my husband said to her, “we were here before you, and we’ll be here when you’re a memory to him.” it’s never wise to try to come between a child and a parent, no matter the age of the child.
    Just pray they never have children or you’ll never be rid of her

  3. Oh, my. Your description of parents is close to mine…sans the Country Club life. My father was Law Enforcement & my mother was Western Electric, then a county job. Neither did church much but, as an only child, I got plenty of Christmas toys & Easter baskets.

    The whole marriage was a power struggle from the get-go & I was “an accident”…or a “deliberate”, depending upon which side of the family you ask.

    Either way, neither should have been a parent & I can remember being completely ignored most of the time…unless I did something wrong. I was sexually or physically abused but, the emotional & psychological abuse was enough.

    I’m pretty sure my mother used me as an excuse to get out of her home life. I was well fed & clothed but, so are some pets.

    I did have exceptional Grandmothers, tho…

    I feel for you.

  4. Hi there ekurie. Parents and children… a life time of reviewing accounts and contemplation, and yet just a few short years of obligatory interdependence. Sometimes we think we know how to do it really well when we’re just starting… and then we discover that every human being, even our children is a world unto itself. Best to congratulate ourselves when we can keep going, and forgive the mistakes of another battered soul.

  5. Wow, an executive and a bridge club. Sounds so posh. Reminds me of the folks I’d pass by when I lived in LA. Very interesting post. Enjoyed this read. 🐶💟

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