Literally running late, I whooshed through my front door at 6:47 am. My eldest son and hubs exit my door, daily, at 7:03 am. To my surprise he was awake, fed and packed and was waiting for his father to emerge. He happily greeted me. “See, I woke up and I’m ready to go!” and I grinned wide in return. And then I surveyed his outfit of shorts and a polo. He had a concert festival today and the required dress was formal black with a black tie. The deer in the headlights look came across his face and he streaked past and up the stairs. I could hear the drawers opening and closing frantically as he searched for these items.
To this I sighed.
Exiting the den I came upon the youngest. I cheerfully chirped how grateful I was that he was awake without my usual prodding. He gave me a long look and informed me that he threw up twice on his bed. I trotted up the stairs, pushed aside the eldest as he dressed, and found the offending blanket. At 11 PM last evening this son felt queasy and threw up the contents of his dinner into it. He rose to tell me but I was sound asleep and his father was working in the garage. He found a small corner in his bed to sleep on and promptly vomited into his favorite blanket again. He rolled the blanket in a bundle; deciding to inform me in the morning.
I found myself scraping the offensive puke off this son’s favorite blanket at 7:13am. I heard the eldest rush out the door; his father waiting in his vehicle in the driveway. I tried to remind him to get money from his Dad; this son who wouldn’t return home until 7 PM this evening, but the door slammed shut. I threw the blanket in the wash, washed my hands once, twice and finally a third time and proceeded to make my younger sons’ lunches. The eldest pounded on the door. He had forgotten his cell phone.
At 7:23 am I exited from the shower dripping wet. At 7:33 am we left the driveway. The overwhelming feeling that came over me, this morning, was that somehow I kept missing the boat. I thought I’d been on track for my schedule today. But it never goes the way I’d planned. One glitch and it all comes to pieces.
At 5:30 AM I had walked with my girlfriends and was astounded to realize that my perception had been completely “off.” I had believed others did not share my own point of view but I was wrong. I had missed the boat.
Last evening as the hubs and I considered what to do with our family for spring break; the memories returned of one of our favorite road trips ever. After sharing our thoughts on San Francisco at dinner I assumed our middle son’s strongest memory would be of our walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. He had cried the entire return walk across the bay; his head hurting. Instead, his memory is of Ghiradelli Square; watching the vats of chocolate churn and fill. That was the best, Mom! How could you not know that?
Last Friday evening I was amongst women listening as they talked of their children; all sitting together in the adjacent room. Collectively we’ve observed them grow over these last five years; from kids to tweens and currently teens. The social dynamics have changed dramatically and I think of my eldest; the introverted one who was anti-social. I, his extreme extroverted opposite, constantly fretted over his social interactions; hoping to guide and teach him how to maneuver amongst his peers. It has only been in recent months that his true character was revealed; catching me by surprise.
I had forgotten the capacity for people to “step up;” when outside their comfort zone. I had assumed my son would sit quietly in a corner; disengaged. But he, too, surprised me. He is much more assertive and social than I ever had been at his age; his maturity manifesting. No longer do I harangue and guide. In accepting his nature and allowing him to be true to who he is; he has emerged confident and independent. It is okay to not be like everyone else; to fit the mold.
We need to find our uniqueness and explore it. To give our dreams and thoughts a place to take flight or free-fall.
I had come to this conclusion with my son and he now blossoms. He has blazed the trail so that his younger brothers can grow. So that it is easier, as a parent, to let go. To trust and accept exactly who each of them are so they can be authentic to themselves.
My assumptions have proven me wrong. I have missed the boat many times and I realize now, that it is okay. I am only responsible for my own thoughts and actions. No longer am I tethered to what others think, how I appear, or the works I’ve done. My kids, my clothes, my affiliations cannot reflect who I am.
I must do that all on my own. I must just be me.
I had been surprised by the invitation that arrived in late February; a milestone party to celebrate my girlfriend. In late 2000 I had joined our local hospital’s Mommy and Me playgroup; these women my introduction to motherhood. All of us were first time mothers and each week we intently listened as we discovered our infants’ firsts together. My girlfriend had been our ringleader; initiating social gatherings of six of us, moms, in her home. Our kids had all been born in September, five boys and one girl. This was the one thing we had in common.
The time flew and our young family was transferred to our next duty station. Our only contact with one another was the annual photo Christmas cards that journalled the growth of our kids. Only recently, via Facebook, had we been reconnected. It had been years.
The hubs and I walked towards the hall filling with people; none of whom we knew. Would she recognize us? Would we know her?
We found ourselves engulfed in hugs with the two couples we haven’t seen for oh so long. The tears silently fell as we caught up. One had recently been hospitalized, the other continues to fight a rare soft tissue cancer. But the words of apology had caught me off-guard. This girlfriend, too, lost her mother to Alzheimer’s; years after I had lost my own. We’re sorry we weren’t there for you; that we let you down. They had been unable to comprehend my life and through the years had carried the guilt with them.
How had I missed the boat again? I had never felt that way about them; their assumptions all wrong. And as I looked across the table, tears glistening, they filled the gaps in my memory I had tried to forget. I was grateful for their perspective and lasting friendships for almost fifteen years.
I no longer will make assumptions. I must speak my words loud and clear.
Our seasons of motherhood are changing as our children grow up and away. Our views of our selves are evolving as life throws wrenches in our paths and we step over or around them. I am learning to pick up the wrench and fling it out of the way as I confront the things I didn’t acknowledge; years before. It is fitting that this girlfriend’s birthday lies on the solstice of spring and we were happy to celebrate her milestone together this past weekend.
And at 3 PM, just prior to a meeting, a phone call arrives. Can you send me product by 7:30 AM next day, Eastern Standard Time? To our shock the caller was completely serious and sent a courier to bring our product to a commercial plane to deliver the goods. The hubs decided he wasn’t going to miss this boat and frantically worked to get the job done. Off our bolts flew, into the night, to arrive at the job site the very next morning. The company had found us on the worldwide web.
By 6:15 PM the cell phone was on 3% battery and the middle son called from home. The youngest was asleep on the couch, the eldest at a concert festival. This son had diligently worked on homework and emerged from the den. I’m ready for dinner, where is everyone else?
And at 6:30 PM, eldest-in-tow I arrived to a messy kitchen with cut-up strawberries, empty yogurt containers and kiwi peels; this son creating smoothies. Yours is in the fridge, Mom. Grateful I sat and gulped it down, the youngest finally waking. The hubs arrived at 7PM; dinner was eaten and the sounds of trumpet came from the family area. The youngest grabbed his clean, fuzzy blanket from the dryer and settled in beside me; eyes drooping as I attempted to read my Kindle. It was 9 PM. What a crazy day!
But I wouldn’t have it any other way; my family of five busily passing one another like ships underway. Maybe I do miss the boat, millions of times. But in standing at the shore I am forced to stand still, to take it all in. Deep cleansing breath. Ready for another day.