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Random Calls from Mothers

I missed a call from my mother at 6am. Still in a deep sleep it took me a moment to realize my phone was ringing. I’m normally up by 5 and she’s usually still asleep but due to sickness skulking around our house the last few days my fiancé Danny and I, were sleeping in. I was a bit annoyed at being disturbed, but then I was worried, because she did call this early as she is in a rehab facility for her shoulder surgery. I called her back immediately only to be informed she, “peed all night.” Ok, mom.

My pause and audible sigh as I lay back on my pillows caused her to realize she had woken me up and that probably was not the best way to start my day. “Well, since I barely did yesterday, I thought you’d like to know.” Then trying for more justification at calling at this way-too-early-hour she quickly proceeds to remind me I forgot to bring her a coat yesterday for her follow up appointment today. “I’m sorry. I just wanted to remind you.” I assured her I didn’t forget her coat; I’d see her in a while, and I’m glad she’s feeling better.

She says sorry a lot and I hate that. Implying her needs are an imposition makes me want to bitch slap myself. So, I try to temper my frustrations at being called too early, too late, or too often in the span of an hour. Of course, I want to know. But not necessarily at 6am, before coffee and my morning pee. Is that too much to ask?

I know she impulsively calls me when something occurs to her and feels I need to know now. Or she doesn’t want to forget her most urgent snack craving. But also, she wants to impart vital information and keep me in the loop as soon as she knows it. She knows I worry about her when someone else is taking care of her besides me. She lives in a trailer 20 steps away from our backdoor and having her in someone else’s care 15 miles away is more stressful than having her right across the driveway.

Our interactions brought to mind how we never stop being moms and sometimes we have the incessant need to “remind” our kids of things, even though they are grown. But isn’t it really because we want to hear their voice, judge how they are doing by their words and make sure they are ok? Just miss them?

I lay there for a few more minutes and images of my son, Richie, now 36, invade my thoughts when he left home to live on his own and how my heart hurt as I held on tight to our goodbye hug before this big step. Knowing he wouldn’t be there to say good night to or see first thing in the morning was painful for this mom. We farmed and worked together so it wasn’t like I wouldn’t still see him nearly every day, but it’s that letting go and knowing he’s not in the next room for a hug or sitting with me and his dad and sister to laugh at some benign tv show. So, at first, I called him every night to say good night and tell him I loved him. Even if we had spent all day working together. Then after a while it became a text and then it was more random as my brain calmed down and I knew he would be ok. And so would I. After all I made it through the first time I had to let him go off alone without traumatizing either one of us.

The dreaded first day of kindergarten. For me, not him. He woke up excited to go on his first bus ride, hair slicked back wearing shorts he picked out the night before, sporting his tag around his neck with his bus number on it. I took the obligatory, first day of school picture, careful to mirror his excitement and not my apprehension. I knew he would have so much fun, but he was used to the freedom of running around the farm, working on equipment with his dad or playing in his sandbox. How would the bus driver and teachers treat my baby??

After I watched him run to the bus and scramble happily up those steps the rest of my day was spent watching the clock, counting down the hours, and then the minutes until he stepped off that bus and threw his arms around my neck. When I thought it was close to the time for him to get home, I started watching the road. 3 different directions that taunted me. I started pulling weeds from my flower garden. No bus. I walked out to the mail box. No mail. No bus. I stood in the middle of the driveway and looked East and West and North. No bus.

I decided after I waved to the third vehicle that passed, I should probably go back up to the house and wait before one of them stopped. I swear if anyone asked me if everything was alright, I would have dissolved in a torrent of blubbery tears. So, I went inside to grab a broom, and by this, I mean ran, so I wouldn’t miss that bus pulling up! I proceeded to sweep the porch, sidewalk, and I’m sure some of the gravel driveway. Still NO BUS! Where was he?? First on, first off, right? Why didn’t I ask what time he’d be home? All the cliché scenarios went through my brain: wreck, he got off at the wrong house, they forgot him. Was I supposed to pick him up?? I was in tears because he should have been home by now!

Then finally, my heart leapt out of my chest with joy and relief! There was that damned yellow bus creeping down the road with my baby boy. The doors opened and he jumped off those steps full of excitement about his day and ran to me for hugs and kisses. My eyes cleared now, all he saw was his mom’s smiling face and waiting arms.

It got easier each time he left me, but it was never easy. Several years later his sister, Victoria, had her first day of school. It was still hard, but I handled it better because she had Richie to look after her, be my set of eyes. And yes, they had been separated from us before for preschool, a few vacations, and overnights with Grams and Poppy, so you don’t think I had an unhealthy attachment to my children. But there was something about sending them to Real School because I knew that was the beginning of the end of my sweet, innocent babies. They were starting those first steps to being adults. Out of my safe world where I could heal nearly anything with a kiss. Out into the world where they had to learn to navigate on their own without me by their side.

So, I know how my mother feels when she calls me at random times with random thoughts. It’s as much about giving information and reminders as it is to hear my voice, see how I am. Being a mom. I try so hard to remember that when I’m in the middle of something and she calls 3 times in a span of 15 minutes. I try not to let the irritation creep into my response. I remind myself, it’s because I am her baby still. The only one she has left. We are attached to each other, and our roles are reversed sometimes, but she’s still my mom and I try not to dwell about the day the phone calls stop. So, I take a breath and remind myself to answer with patience and a smile.

I only hope my kids understand this when I make random calls and texts to them and extend to me the grace I try to extend to her.



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Mar 30, 2023

So true!!

Apr 25, 2023
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