The thing about Pity Ham is that it comes with a side of parental worry masked in one too many “I love you.”s.
We don’t say “I love you” much in my family (my family in this case being my parents & siblings & whatnot). We’re more do-ers than say-ers.
And by doing I don’t mean through physical affection either. We are not huggers….or even touchers. The running joke is that our family’s love language is sarcasm. It’s an apt joke.
This used to bother my ex-husband. He’d hint that we aren’t much of a loving family because we don’t say it, but he was very wrong. We don’t put our love on show with words or gestures which can be faked and empty. We show it with actions, by being there when we’re needed. Always.
So when there are one too many verbal expressions of affection and they’re not facetious it means something.
Usually it comes from the parents and it actually means they’re worried about you.
I don’t like it when people are worried about me. Concern means you think I’m not okay and I like to consider myself able to take care of things. I’m a big girl, I can take care of myself. Your worry tells me that might appear not to be the case today.
Even when I feel like this:
I’d rather tell people something like this:
I went to my parents’ house for Easter.
Easter is on par with Thanksgiving in the hierarchy of holidays. It warrants a big family meal where everyone who’s in state & not committed to going to their in-law’s or working shows up but it’s not like Christmas where you look like an asshole if you don’t come to at least one of the two (maybe three) Family Celebrations. Christmas is the holiday that usually gets the whole family together. It’s big.
Easter is important but smaller…relatively smaller that is. Maybe somewhere around fifteen or twenty people.
Have I mentioned I have a giant family?
I can’t remember.
There’s nothing like being surrounded by a whole bunch of people like yourself, people you could say anything in front of and they would still love & accept you. Oh, don’t get me wrong, you’ll get an earful about why they don’t agree with your choices and how you should be doing it but in the end you know they’re still your family.
My kids got to celebrate Easter with their dad this year. They also got to spend the whole week before (and the whole weekend for a total of ten days) with him since it was spring break and his year to spend it with the kids. I was more upset about the latter than the former.
By Easter day I was seriously missing my kids and was in a bad mood. I didn’t hide it well. Snarky comments and slightly bitter quips abounded. Usually I try to be a bigger person than that but it was like someone left the faucet running and I couldn’t turn it off. The verbal faucet that is, I stayed angry enough that my state of upset didn’t dissolve into tears….but just barely.
At least there was that.
I was pretty selfish that day. I didn’t contribute to the meal at all. My mom had asked me to bring sweet potatoes…I didn’t get around to making them (I went out with friends the night before). Originally I was going to pick up my youngest brother & go to church with him out near my parents’ house…I didn’t. I overslept went to some random church (near said friends’ house) by myself. I was the person who showed up right when dinner was supposed to be starting…or maybe ten minutes after. One of my sisters was a little later than I was but she had three young kids and a baby to get out the door…by herself.
I had no such excuse.
This kind of thing is not typical of me but everyone understood that I was having a bad day and why. I had actually thought about not even going. I had strongly considered staying home alone and wallowing. In the end I’m glad I didn’t. Being around family was refreshing, it was time well spent.
Finally it was six o’clock, time for me to finally go get my kids. My mom gave me some candy for my kids then some for me. She even shared some of her good chocolate from her personal stash. As I was walking out the door my mom asked if I wanted to take some ham too. Yes I did.
She gave me quite a bit, more than my share of a such choice leftover.
As I was again about to leave one of my sisters said “Hey, how’d you get so much ham? I want some too.”
I replied “It’s pity ham. You don’t want any” and walked out the door.
Most the time during that long stretch my kids were away was the week they would usually be at their dad’s anyway, though I usually see them two evenings during those weeks and didn’t this time. I didn’t like that but at least I had work to keep me busy during that time. Losing the whole of Easter weekend with them was the worst part of the break for me. It’s not very often that I have a whole weekend with no kids and no work (basically this never happens) and I didn’t really know what to do with myself. I started a project, made plans & caught up with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while, ran a little, slept a lot, and went out with some friends. Basically I spent some time taking care of myself.
Recently someone asked me the question “How are you restoring yourself?” and I’ve come to realize this isn’t something I’m very good at.
Having some time to do that might not have been a bad thing. While this doesn’t make me any happier about not seeing my kids for such a long time, there is a lesson to learn from this:
When life gives you Pity Ham…make a fucking omelet.