I didn’t write about Mother’s Day last week. Truthfully, I kind of forgot about it, but when I was reading Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper, I thought, Oh Shoot! I should have written about Mother’s Day this week.
I Forgot it was Mother’s Day?
Kids scattered hither and yon, my own mother gone for almost a decade, I had no plans on my calendar to act as a reminder. But don’t you worry, I received lots of love, attention, phone calls, FaceTime, and lovely gifts from all my kids throughout the weekend.
BF asked me on Saturday what I’d like to do for Mother’s Day. It took me 2.5 seconds to answer: Breakfast at The Hob Nob and a hike in Brown County State Park.
After the asparagus and feta omelet special and a glass of champagne, we leisurely hiked 5.5 moderate miles. No rush. Plenty of stops to take pictures or loop back to the lodge for potty breaks. It was a pleasant 70 degrees and sunny and nothing was crowded. It was as if the whole world slept in.
We were walking along the deserted trail talking about our moms and different things about Mother’s Days gone by, when BF asked me, “What was your highlight as a mother?” We walked for quite a while in silence.
Nothing normal like a sweet story that made me look good came to mind. I told him the following two stories:
Jessica was about to graduate soon from NYU’s Summer Publishing Institute and she and I were having a cup of tea in Hell’s Kitchen. Tears were running down her cheeks as she pleaded her case. “I just want to come home for a month. I just want to be able to drive my car and sleep in my own room, and see my friends, and then I’ll come back.”
I asked her, “Is it still your dream to live in New York City?”
“Yes,” she answered.
I do not know what gave me the power to say this, but somehow, through my own tears, I said, “Then no. If you go home, you will never come back.”
Michael, a junior in high school, and I were driving through the gates of Culver Military Academy. It was October and I had kept my promise that he could come home for a visit after a month on campus. He began to cry and said, “I don’t want to stay. I want to go back home. I want to go back to Greenwood.”
“Absolutely not!” I said. “Our agreement was if you came here, which was your decision, you would complete a semester–and you will.” I had to be more stern with Michael because, well, he’s Michael. I continued, “Now get your butt in there and sign in and get to your room before you’re late!”
I don’t know, maybe it’s weird that both of my highlight stories are about telling my offspring they couldn’t come home. Maybe you’re thinking, No wonder her kids didn’t visit for Mother’s Day!
But I claim those were “This is going to hurt me more than it’s going to hurt you” parenting moments. It’s the reason Jessica successfully navigated NYC for six years and created a chosen family and saw Shakespeare in the Park and Broadway plays, and can travel anywhere confidently, alone.
It’s the reason Michael proudly played tennis for, and graduated from, Culver Military Academy. It’s where he sat in small classes in cool, old buildings and made diverse friends from all over the world, some of whom he is still close friends with today. It’s where he ran with his squad alongside Lake Maxinkuckee at daybreak for “punishment” and gained the confidence to sign up for two Disney internships and follow love to Arizona.
Mother birds teach their babies to fly by gently tossing them out of the nest. Maybe I was a bird in a past life and that inclination stayed with me. Or maybe I did for them what I wish someone had done for me. Or maybe the Universe just blessed me with two independent humans to mother for a while. But the story that I’m sticking to is that my mothering highlights were the two times I said no to a kid who desperately wanted to come home.