I had the luxury of spending time with my mom this week. She flew in from Virginia last Wednesday and left yesterday afternoon.
Although I talk to her every day, it’s hard to believe I only get to see her but a few times a year. While growing up in Texas, I never imagined there would be a day that we wouldn’t live but a few miles from each other. I always pictured us sharing late afternoon lunches while the kids were at school, cheering from the sidelines at weekend sporting events, Sunday family dinners and even sitting quietly while working on various writing projects. Her leaving Texas, or me moving to Michigan, was never the plan, but it is the reality. When she comes to visit I want everything to be perfect. I want my children to create lifetime memories of my mother, hold her in their hearts the way I do, with her childlike voice singing them to sleep at night, her silly sarcasm that turns almost every conversation into a game and her natural ability to breath quiet into any situation with her slow and steady pace. I want my children to think fondly of recreating stories as mini-plays or oratories, eating popcorn so buttered it seeps through the bag, and snuggling up in front of the TV sharing Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. I want my children to think of my mom and know that someone other than their mom and dad love them just as they are, flaws and all.
It takes several days for me to prepare for any guests to arrive. Cleaning, planning, grocery shopping and decorating consume me and the normal daily tasks get lost. I know that this is a self-inflicted stress, especially when my mom comes to visit. As long as she has a clean bathroom and a bed to sleep in, she is content. And when my company finally arrives, the anxiety only increases as I try to keep everything flowing seamlessly. I like to pretend that raising a family is effortless, that I have all things under control at all times. Obviously this is a facade, one created by my ridiculous fear of being a failure or not good enough.
Life is ever-changing.
Children are unpredictable.
Things get left undone.
Monday, April 2nd, was my 39th birthday, one of the reasons my mom came to visit. It didn’t start stellar. The Hare had a complete head-spinning-out-of-body melt down as we were getting ready for school. She was not communicating her needs very clearly, so I kept asking her to explain herself another way. The repetition of not being understood was too much for her to handle and she exploded, screaming at me to “NEVER MIND” and “IT’S NOT THAT IMPORTANT ANYWAY” as a spiral notebook came flying at me from across the room. The shock of her anger broke her even further, the tears came hot and heavy.
I handled it with little grace, saying bitterly, “happy birthday to me“, which of course, caused her to cry even harder.
Quickly and silently we moved through the rest of our morning dance, piling into the car for school. My thoughts swirled around, picking up momentum, spiraling into the pit of my stomach. I started focusing on the lack of miles ran, the days without writing, the laundry piling up and the tasks still needing attention.
“I can’t believe it has been a week since I’ve posted on my blog,” I muttered.
“Me too!” remarked my mom, “it feels a little liberating.”
“How is it liberating?” I snapped,” I’m overwhelmed with guilt. Readers must think I have totally disappeared or had a mental breakdown.”
“Because writing our blog is something we can do apart. I’d much rather be here with you, living life, not just writing about it.”