the hours we lie awake
sometimes i think maybe i should be a brand ambassador for a certain kind of mother: the mother who worries too much. i put in a stellar showing this week as i proved once again there is nary a bump in the road that i can’t imagine, can’t magnify in the picture show that plays in my head, especially in the wee, wee hours.
why, i can picture invisible germs crawling up the underside of a plastic shield. i can picture suitcases left behind, and moving trucks headed the wrong direction (more on that later). i can even picture imaginary apartments, schemes i’ve heard of first-hand where a place is advertised, virtual tours provided, only to find out the whole thing was a hoax, a ruse to snare the gullible into a make-believe lease and a real-time transfer of significant cash.
as if the real world worries aren’t plenty enough, i can embellish a script like nobody’s business.
but mostly this week i was finding my unadorned, un-embellished motherly way once again, tiptoeing in the dark, banging my toes up against doorways and corners, double-timing the wheel on the old-mother-odometer, the one that ages us, wrinkles us, grays us right before our wondering eyes.
yes, i was a mother this week whiling away the hours while her firstborn criss-crossed the country amid a pandemic, en route to a city engulfed in tear gas and federal troops. i realized that, when it comes to that kid, the first one i popped from the womb — my trial run for a lifetime — his adventures will always be unscripted for me, and i will always be finding my way. i will always be reconfiguring the walls of my heart, seeing how far i can stretch, untangling unforeseen puzzles, recalibrating my geo-scope, learning new time zones and cities, and inhaling a world of new wonders as i hitch a virtual ride on his real-life once-upon-a-rower’s extra-strength shoulders.
some parts of the script come more naturally to me. some parts are ones where i bang up, skin, and scrape my old knees. i’ve never before been the mother of a 27-year-old trekking farther from home than he’s ever lived (1,751 miles, says the wee little map on my phone). never before extended my motherly range west of the rockies, west of mounts hood, st. helens and rainier, to be geologically precise.
i know soon enough this’ll all be old news. but, just as in those first days home from the delivery room, when i literally felt my brain rewiring — as if someone was in there with a screwdriver and wrench, hooking up wires and supercharging synapses that i’d never known — my brain is once again in the midst of remodification. once again, a cognitive construction zone.
good thing the old heart stretches on impact. follows by instinct wherever, whenever, however, it’s needed.
this week’s adventure in cross-continental travel proved almost as seamless as an adventuring lad and his overage mama might hope. except for one thing. or, rather, two full-sized moving containers of things. (aka: the kid’s every last worldly possession.)
seems the folks on the loading dock back in connecticut didn’t quite read the shipping labels. or maybe they mistook the OR in oregon as a choice they could make.
they chose wrong, would be the bottom line, and sent the load hither when it should have gone yon. and so, at the moment, the kid is camping out in a bare-naked apartment, starting work monday with the one pair of beloved midcentury khakis he packed in his suitcase, a pair that once belonged to his grandpa, a pair that’ll be plenty proud to enter the chambers of the ninth circuit federal judge considered “a gentleman of the law.”
while we await the return of the rambling load (crossing our fingers and all of our toes), this old mama will undoubtedly startle in the night, tiptoe down the stairs, scribble inventories of all the irreplaceable treasures she sure hopes will resurface.
and because we mamas are the original bounce-back kids, because resilience is our necessary middle name, and we mostly land squarely — if wobbly — on our two sturdy feet, she’ll soon know every last street in downtown portland. figure out the two-hour time lag. and wait for the pandemic to end so she can get out there and soak it all in for herself.
how do you tamp down the worries that keep you from sleep?
infinite thanks to the giant-hearted kindred souls who all but held my hand in the long hours of this week as i reached for the solid ground of a safe landing and adventure-less cross-country migration. you know who you are…
Proud of this young man- and of his mama – for holding it together. Always.
oh dear gracious!!!! what a total treat to find you here. i always get soo excited — and so deeply touched — when i discover someone i love pulling up a chair. xoxoxo sending love.
You render my exact same goings-on in the most luscious and funny words: Cognitive construction zone! Darling, we really should get together as I am an eternal optimist, possible Pollyanna 2.0. As I watch my little blip on the phone go from Boston to Utah and back, I dream of the mountains and sites he is seeing and pray that he’s safe, without stressing too much. We’ve given them good, firm moral roots so they’ve lots to work with. May he eventually find a second home at Powell Books.
Powell’s announced this week they are forever closing!!! Boy I love scrambled to use gift certificate given by other boy I love so he could grab some leather-bound law volumes. It’s a dagger to the heart of bibliophiles across the globe. Damn pandemic wrecking everything….
And yes, I admit to my foibles because I know I need to buckle up. And because I’m likely not alone. I promise to inhale your breed of pure oxygen❤️
OMG! Closing? Tragic. You are NEVER alone and thank you for taking us along!
It’s his turn. You have given all that one possibly can offer. He strong and wise and capable- even during a pandemic in an upside down city more than 1700 miles from your hearth. He will screw up. We all do. However, he will succeed. He will do what he thinks is best. Best for him. Not for you. This is the hard part. We lie awake and churn and and wonder why we ever allowed them to think for themselves. But that’s just what they do. Think. We are lucky. Good was put into him. Best will be the result.
love you, hand holder!!! you have been my enlightener since the day you told me to get myself a cell phone if i was going to be the mother of a kindergartener in a school more than 10 miles from home. xoxoxoxo
Ah, my friend, the eternal question … we raise them to stand on their own two feet, and then when they do we feel useless, put out to pasture, out of control. Feel all the feels, but have confidence in the great job you have done raising him. He is a good man. It doesn’t mean he won’t fall – as you well know, scraping them up is the hardest part. But he will get back up. And you will always be there to hug him when he does. Love you.
PS and as for all the uncontrollables … I got nothing. Nada. No advice. But I know you believe in the power of prayer, and what better thing could there be?
My Army JAG attorney nephew-in-law arrived yesterday, safe and sound, driving 1200 miles from El Paso to the Chicago area in 2 days. He joins his newly pregnant wife (planned) and 8-month old daughter who have been staying at my sister’s until they close on a house in the Indianapolis area, his next duty station. (She, her sister, the baby and the dog made the same journey a month ago.) In mid-August, they are on the move again. In the midst of coronavirus swirling invisibly around. I would like to think that all of our loved ones, on the road for so many reasons, are crisscrossing this nation in the company of enough other good people that wish each other a safe and successful journey. And though I’m just “the Auntie” my stomach is in knots and my prayers are with them every mile. I pray – and keep giving it over to God. Like the other chairs on this site, I feel for you and the others concerned about loved ones traveling or living at a distance. 💕 And widen my prayers to protect them as well.
PS Love this: “or maybe they mistook the OR in oregon as a choice they could make.”
thank heaven for safe and sound arrivals. i love your notion that the ones on the road this summer are all there for very fine and certain reasons. may they all be blessed, and your itinerant lawyer, most certainly…..
there is company in knowing we knotted ones are not alone.
*the OR in oregon came up and surprised me as that sentence seemed to write itself. those little epiphanies in writing are the things that make me forever enchanted by — and in debt to — the writing angels…..
“maybe they mistook the OR in oregon as a choice they could make.”
“they chose wrong, would be the bottom line, and sent the load hither when it should have gone yon.”
Your turn of phrase, in the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of race riots, in the middle of this crazy, much-too-sad-and-sobering time, is nothing short of miraculous. Thank you for making me laugh! I hope you even made yourself laugh in the process!
Amazing, the way our lives as well as our wombs can and do stretch to unheard-of dimensions in order to accommodate our babies. Let them grow up and away for as long as it pleases them: the truth of the matter is that they’ll always and always be our babies, and we will always and always worry about them.
Thank God your sweet boy is safe and at least somewhat settled in his new city. May his lost belongings find him soon! In the meantime, I’m glad he’s got those khakis!!
I’m continuing to lift him up in prayer. And you, too. Sending love~ xxxooo
you make me cry. where would i be without your hand to hold? and your deep and profound understanding of life’s quieter truths, never losing sight of the glimmers of humor that keep us upright and moving most days.
sending love in return and in kind….xoxoxo
Sharing your heart always touches mine deeply, thank you.
What will help me in the middle of the night when life’s challenges are magnified? THIS: “because we mamas are the original bounce-back kids, because resilience is our necessary middle name, and we mostly land squarely” Thank you!
giant hug, dear MJ. there is something, i’ve always found, in the knowing that much of the time we simply can’t NOT land on our own two feet. i can count the times i’ve willed my knees not to buckle. knowing i had to be the one to stay strong. and in that i found a strength i hadn’t known was mine…..