Thursday, September 13, 2012
Within the Fog
This morning as I drove to work in the fog, anticipating the business of the day before me, I thought about the mystery of time and of my many responsibilities and then I found myself reflecting on the job of being a mom. I thought of how I used to be careless with time. I miss those days when I ran outside to play after school or on a Saturday morning, completely unaware of when it’d be time for our next meal or whether or not I had to go to the dentist’s in a few hours. That’s what Mom was for, to keep track of the time, and to go to the door to call my name into the air when it was time for me to come inside. Now I’m the mom at the door, or rather, on the cell phone, awkwardly texting the kids to say, “It’s time to head home”.
I came across a piece from Anna Quindlen yesterday. She writes, “Sometimes, missing my mother, I lose track of whether I am missing a human being or a way of life. Our mothers only slowly become people to us, as we grow older and they do, too...There is something primitive about this love and this loss. What does it mean, to sleep beneath the heart of another person, safe and warm, for almost a year? No scientist can truly say.”
I have three children, but I’ve been pregnant four times in my life. I’ve had a child sleep beneath my heart four times. For anyone who has never experienced that, let me simply say that it is indeed a primitive feeling of wanting, no NEEDING, to protect that little being at all costs. I got lucky and raised three out of four of the precious hearts that once would beat right next to my own. One heart, my oldest daughter is an exuberant college junior, thriving in her circle of social, academic, and creative pursuits. Another heart, my second daughter, is presently feeling a bit anxious, balancing her senior year expectations with her big dreams for a career on stage. The third heart, my only son, has a heart that beats fast running on the soccer field, texting like there’s no tomorrow, and eating me out of house and home. The fourth heart I lost too soon. I never met her, the daughter I lost in a miscarriage back in 1998, but I will. Someday.
Actually, fog or not, I’ve been thinking often about my feelings towards motherhood and the passing of time. I have been reassuring myself that I did regularly show appreciation of my own mom, and that she always knew how much I loved her. I said it routinely and I said it in grand gestures too. I say it now. And I am recalling one Christmas Eve in particular when I went to bed after a beautiful evening with both Mom and Dad and when I said to myself, “I must never question whether or not I have told my parents I love them. I have said it loudly and clearly. I have said it often, lest they forget. I must remember this”.
Each August my family and I go to camp for an annual family vacation at the lake and we visit with my Mom and Dad for two weeks. Things have changed from how these vacations once were, but this past summer, on the first night of my arrival, I made a mistake which showed me that a mother’s love is immutable. Knowing her work schedule would force her to return home after just a few days, my daughter had gone to camp before us. After unpacking my own suitcase, Sydney and I hopped in our kayaks to catch the sunset. I’d not had a chance to talk with Syd about her first few days with my parents and the two of us lost track of time as we watched the sky and its gorgeous colors. We were not far from camp but an island obstructed our family’s view of where we were. As we paddled in, directly after the sun had sunk below the horizon, my husband and father appeared on the front deck. I quickly realized they had been worried about my daughter and I. I said my apologies, but got the heads up that someone inside the camp was quite upset. My Mom.
“Mom, I’m so sorry. I surely did not intend to frighten you. I am sorry”, I said. I reached down instinctively to give her a hug.
My Mom grabbed my arm to stop me and with her eyes opened wide she made strong eye contact with my own. “Don’t you EVER do that again!” she scolded. I felt ten years old again. I know she said more but I have since forgotten what else she said. I was overtaken with the realization that to her, I was still a child who had acted recklessly and without thought or concern for her feelings. My first instinct was to smile for I was truly touched by her love, “She was worried about me. She still loves me", I thought...but I bit my lip and instead promised her I would be more careful next time.
There may be days when the fog takes much too long to dissipate or when the passing of time and life's changes all become too much for me to accept, but what I must remember on mornings or evenings when I am quiet and missing my Mom like I am today, when I am full of unnecessary regret or remorse or even anger and frustration in thinking of how I wish it were as it once was, is that I know my mother loved me. Correction: She still loves me...with all her heart...with everything she was, is, will be. I know this for sure. Despite the weather, the age, the time on the clock, there is no greater love than the love a mother has for her children.