My mother remembers me renting the Penske truck and driving away from her 10 years ago to move from Maine to Chicago. She was devastated, and nervous and excited for me. I was excited. I played the Dixie Chicks album and sang at the top of my lungs “wide open spaces, room to make a big mistake!” Of course, Chicago isn’t exactly “wide open” but it’s West of Maine and it’s prairie land (sorta). Anyway, it became my anthem. I felt so free and so alive. I thought it was silly how worried my parents were.
My mother called me one night to check in because “she had a bad feeling”, I laughed at her. I was at home, inside, totally safe and drinking hot tea. Yup, big City girl (5 minutes away from knitting for a cat). My dad and mom drove my car out here from Maine a few years later and I gave them a tour of my City. They couldn’t believe that I knew my way around. My dad raved about the trains for weeks. It was cute to me and I definitely was grateful that they brought me my car, as I needed it for my new design job. I’m pretty sure I just said thanks and hugged them. I also probably got frustrated with them for asking me 800 questions and rambling off their various concerns for my safety. The next year my dad washed the windows in my studio from the inside out and my mother folded all my underwear and…counted them. Like ya do.
To be honest, I’ve always known that my parents loved me and I always felt grateful. BUT, I really liked living in a different state, far far away. I liked our phone conversations better than our in person time. Our in person time usually overwhelmed me. I actually started feeling closer to them both. On occasion, I’d think about how amazing they are and how deeply I loved them but I’d forget to tell them. I’d think of my dad when I played my 1940’s music, drafted a floorplan, ate cheese or drove at night. I’d think of my mom and all the things she taught me that gave me the confidence to take care of myself and thrive. You know, like… how to cook, tuck hospital corners, bleach the sink, roll the bath towels, line the kitchen drawers etc.
My husband and I just recently flew to Florida with our little guy to visit my parents. Here’s the thing, Florida is NOT my favorite. In fact I pretty much think it’s a ridiculous State. I think it has potential in the same way that a termite infested crack house on a gorgeous lot has potential. Ie, gut it. Strip it of it’s strip malls, chain restaurants, billboards, neon signs, mansion churches and stripclubs and you’ll be left with gorgeous beaches, nice weather and well, tan, elderly folks. Anyway, I digress. We visited my parents in Florida.
My parents live in a golf resort (again, like ya do). They have lots of friends that rent out their condos and apparently one was vacant for my husband and I. Yay! Mini parent vacation! It gets better… my parents were so bummed that we wouldn’t be in the same condo building as them but rather the building next to them. I couldn’t figure out why this mattered. Then my mom said she thought she’d get to tuck in my baby and say good night to him or watch him for a bit if we were closer. OOOOOH, so I joked, you can keep him overnight if you want and snuggle him at midnight and 3am and again at 6am… She shrieked. In my ear. On the phone. She was under the impression that it would be nearly impossible for me to sleep without him. I assured her that I don’t actually sleep when he’s around, so I’ll roll the dice. Again, YAY! Mini vacation.
I would pump milk in the middle of the night and walk it over to them, not unlike a milkman. I would then walk back and SLEEP. During the day, my parents were all about feeding our son, changing him, burping him, making him smile and their favorite, giving him a bath. They wanted to show him off to all their friends. In addition to that, they made us green juices, salad, breakfast, lunch, dinner. My mother bought all our favorites to stock up our mini kitchen and they had a pack n play set up with my favored diaper brand, wipes and bath soap.
I’m not sure I can explain to you what it’s like to be “mothered” when you’re a new mother. I’ve spent the last four months trying to understand every little cry and what my little guy needs or wants, whether it’s to be bounced or walked around facing frontwards. Does he want the right breast instead of the left? Does he hate the music? Should I turn my phone on silent? I spill out of bed and walk like a zombie towards the 3am crying only to be greeted by baby smiles. He has totally taken over. Sure, I still prioritize daily showers, getting dressed a clean house, dinner etc but really… my moments are his. I am his. And he is mine.
My parents have ALWAYS loved like this. They’ve always wanted me to be safe, to be happy, healthy, well fed, rested etc. I felt utterly spoiled and cared for. I see how they love my son and I’m realizing how they felt about me all these years. I used to feel overwhelmed by their love for me, their interest in every little thing in my life, but now… I could bathe in it. Honestly, my dad has suddenly become a baby person and he requests a daily photo of our son. He says things like “fills my heart, babe” and “every picture tells a story”. My mom is hoping we move to the town in Maine where I grew up to raise him because they don’t want to miss his little league games. She is super envious of moms that live near their daughters.
It took me a decade to figure out what they felt the day I packed up the rental truck. I can’t believe I LEFT my parents. They loved me with every ounce of their being and at 22, I left them as if it was no big deal. Not only have I not come back in 10 years, I’m raising their grandson here. Then it hit me, in fact, I was submerged in emotion and racked with guilt. I felt overwhelmingly grateful for their love, their care, their worry, their many questions. I UNDERSTAND it. The obsessive love of a parent. It makes perfect sense. I’m not just their kid or a family member. I am the most sacred thing to them, I’m a piece of them.
So to my mum and dad, thank you for being exactly who you are and loving me the way you did ALL of these years.
Now, to figure out those little league games…
Love to you,