"I don't know how it happened, Mike. I guess I just lost myself in the excitement."
You would have thought that someone with even a basic knowledge of medicine would have remembered that she couldn't actually switch birth control meds without paying some sort of cost. Ah, well. Michael wasn't sure if he was ready for fatherhood when he was so young but, like his parents told him, fate is in charge of things. The arrival of their child was just so poorly timed. Instead of being able to travel the world with Weed for his dream job at Portrait, he was going to be tied down. Ah, well. It wasn't as if Deanna had planned it that way. And it wasn't as if he couldn't make his name with his one last hurrah before being more housebound. The trip to Japan to interview some up-and-comer named 'Divala' promised to be interesting.
Yeah. Interesting. Yet another person humiliating him, keeping him down, telling him that he's not important, that he's just there to fill in the blanks in a puff piece so he shouldn't pretend that his last name is "Wallace". He didn't come all that way to be slapped down by yet another person who smiled and treated him like he didn't matter so he just did what he had to. Damned Mitch. You'd have thought he'd understood but no. He talked about how the magazine shouldn't get sued because some imbecile who didn't feel like doing what he was told threw a temper fit like some spoiled first grader. And so he was out on his ear, doing freelance work, watching Deanna run around yelling for some reason and dealing with the lumpish downstairs neighbors and his dragon of a mother-in-law. Mel Kelpfroth called him a self-important twerp who lets his children run hog-wild and agitate his wife's migraine. Mira said that he barricaded himself in his alcove and hid behind the myth of the writer's trance because he was afraid of his children.
God, what was with that woman? Everyone (except for his writing profs) knew that a writer had to isolate himself from his family if he were going to produce anything good. Sure, it used to bother him when his mother said that but that was different, wasn't it? Oh, well. At least Lovey understood. He didn't know what he would have done without her. He certainly couldn't have written his novel, coped with Robin or managed to cope with his new job at Portrait without her good advice. It seemed cool at first but management, well, it meant a lot of boring meetings, troubling decisions and always and ever, rows of numbers. The one thing that he could totally agree with his mother on was that Math was confusing. Sure, he'd tried making sense of it at first but Mrs Hardacre said "WE don't do things that way" and that was the end of it.
Things finally seemed to be making sense at long last when, wouldn't you know it, their home caught fire and they were forced to move back in with his parents over the Christmas holidays. Aside from some minor drama involving Liz and some fellow she'd hung out with up North and the baffling problem of why April always seemed like she was being picked on, things got back to a semblance of normality quickly. About a month later, he'd got great news about the novel and better news about getting a home. Y'see, his dad had always wanted to buy a smaller house for him and Mom and, well, they sold him the old house while they and April (who, for reasons that he was never told about, seemed moodier than ever) moved into the smaller place. Things were chugging along quite nicely (aside, of course, from the stroke that destroyed Grandpa Jim's mind) when he'd heard that Liz was finally getting engaged to that Anthony guy. He sort of didn't like him but Gordo said that the little fellow's wife was bad news so that was good enough for him. The two of them got hitched and it was sort of like the end of an era.
Later that day, though, he was at home working on his third novel trying to settle the kids down, trying to keep them from distracting him. Then it happened. He looked in the mirror in the hallway and saw something that gave him pause: a man who was frightened because he had no idea what he was doing or how he'd gotten where he was in life. He then remembered when he'd first seen that expression: it was on his mother's face just before she told him to stop bothering her because she was busy. He remembered that day....because it was the day that his life finally started to make sense. He'd turned off the computer, sat down with the kids looking at one of the photo albums and noticed that Mom had the same terrified, angered expression in most of her photos. It was the look of a woman who thought that someone had cheated her out of something. He also remembered something else from when he was a kid: the mothers of most of the other kids he'd known talking about how ungrateful Elly was, how she had a great life and was too stupid, angry and immature to enjoy it. The same words, he'd realized, applied to him. If he kept on the way he was going, he'd miss all the magic TV had promised him and die feeling gypped.
As he told them all about that botched camping trip where both his parents thought that an abandoned and probably condemned cabin was the swinging bachelor pad they were being sent because neither of them understood self-deprecating humour, he'd remembered all the other annoying habits he shared with his mother. For starters, there was the need to wall himself off because of what his professors called the myth of the writer's trance. As he glanced at a photo of himself, Gordon and Lawrence, he thought of all the times that he could be sweet-talked into doing something stupid. He then remembered all the times where Mom got taken for a ride by creeps who flattered her and yelled at people who told her truths she'd rather not have heard. A receipt for a manual can-opener reminded him of the way neither of them could seem to keep track of money and a picture of himself staring daggers at Lizzie, well, that reminded him of how Mom seemed to not actually want to get along with Uncle Phil no matter how many times he'd tried to bury the hatchet. Man. It was like all the old, boring grudges about stuff that happened when she was six were her real favourite children. Hell. He'd even caught himself wondering if he'd die before he got a thank-you.....just. like. her.
When Deanna came in with her latest round of complaints about Mira, he'd finally started to notice something else: the way that she looked like Dad did when he was talking about Grandpa Will. Given that she'd once wrote a letter about how great it was that Mom folded in the face of Dad's jerkishness and how awful it was that Mira did not and how one time, he'd caught a smashed Dad tell Grandpa Will that he should have never let Grandma Carrie 'overrule' him, it was sort of clear now that both of them resented their fathers for letting their wives 'wear the pants'. He also noticed that trying to talk to her was sometimes like trying to talk to a wall and that she really, really didn't have any idea of how much a six-year old girl could actually do. Watching her get huffy because Meredith said that washing the outside windows was too much work brought back memories of Dad getting a bug up his shorts because a seven-year old couldn't actually wash a station wagon without help. The same inability to see that children only look like they have boundless energy which needs to be either channeled or suppressed (along with the same need to see themselves as being the victim when they're the bully) seemed to animate the both of then.
MAN!! He'd thought that he'd escaped his crappy childhood but he'd just come back home to live his parents' lives; the only difference is the gender of the incompetent imbecile squealing about nothing and using what happened to them as children to club everyone around them over the head with and the huffy dullard with the persecution complex and the brain full of stereotypes.
What could he do, though? The only thing that could get through Dad's thick skull was a railway spike, Mom had a bottomless appetite for evading the facts and being lied to (which was accompanied by a low tolerance for both being told or having to tell the truth) and Liz was too busy complaining about the 'lies' Anthony's ex told her about his knowing a guy called 'Great Big Jerk Divorce Lawyer' and his threat to drag the poor girl's name through the mud to be any use and he just couldn't face April.
About all he could do is what Uncle Phil, Aunt Geo and Brian's family said to do: smile when his folks were running their ill-informed mouths about how 'dangerous' the family therapy sessions he, Dee and the kids went to and make non-committal noises that don't rile them up. Eventually, his parents passed on (much younger than their parents owing to bad diet, he'd noticed), Meredith got into pre-med, Robin into pre-law, Liz figured out that the One was meant to be the One flew a helicopter and was not someone who wanted own a B and B and with the help of the first Mrs Caine, proceeded to lose two hundred pounds of balding, whining, apathetic doughhead. Every so often, she and her pilot husband would come back from overseas and they'd compare notes with April about some of the more baffling blind spots the folks had. As for him, he made a tidy enough sum from his residuals that Deanna (who didn't like being a pharmacist any more than Dad really enjoyed dentistry) could run that arts and crafts shop she'd always had her eye on. It wasn't the most spectacular of lives but once he'd figured out that he was just another idiot doing crap till he passed on, he was a lot happier.