Last month, I was more than usually harried as I worked to close up my therapy practice for a few days of fun and rest. I had upped my caseload a few weeks earlier when I realized I was going to come very close to qualifying for an end-of-year-bonus. I knew I would be very upset to miss it by a few client-hours.
Some of my best gals and I were going to the shore for a long weekend. We had planned it many months in advance. I wanted to return rested to a clean desk so I was busy catching up. Plus, being the mom at my house, I felt that instinctual tug to clean up a bit and stock the kitchen. It is the fear of mothers everywhere that a few days away will cause the family to starve or the earth to stop rotating on its axis. I used to cook their meals in advance. My family felt cared for and I felt less guilty at abandoning them so callously. This also made it less likely they would spend two weeks of my grocery budget on one weekend of eating out. Oh look! I am both grandiose and controlling.
Ha! But this time they had to fend for themselves. This particular week so hectic that I bought two cases of Udon and some fresh produce at the Korean grocery and left them to their own devices. Perhaps a future post should be devoted to Mom Guilt but it won’t be this one.
My dear Mom reached me in the car on my way to the office. Hearing the urgency and fatigue in my voice, she wished me a good trip and said she wouldn’t keep me. She sounded concerned.
I checked my phone as I left the office to run errands at lunch. I felt worried when I saw two missed calls from my mother. She is not one to blow up my phone. I went through my messages and found one from her. She had decided that if she couldn’t lighten my load, she could at least make me Princess For A Day.
My mother starts every message the same way. If I I saved them all and played the tracks simultaneously, we’d have a well-tuned choir: “Hi, Jane! It’s Mom!” She asked for my account number at the credit union we share. She had thought and prayed it through and wanted to give me some money to go out and by myself “something pretty” while I was at the beach.
I don’t do “pretty” very well. In fact, I struggle to maintain an appropriate selection of clothing for work. After my husband and I tied the knot, he groaned when he realized his bride’s wardrobe did actually consist of jeans and a collection of fraying road-race tees. Then he threatened to make them disappear. He didn’t follow through; and here we are, three kids and 27 years later.
I called back and got her voice mail.
“My Mommy!” I blurted without even thinking. Where had that come from? I am 51 years old. I haven’t called her Mommy since I was very young.
My mother is slowing down. I fear she is turning into a little old lady. She carries a cell phone but doesn’t turn it on. She is afraid of it but won’t admit it. She regularly forwards me emails which would make Snopes cry. She is starting to become cute, and we all know what that means: I’ve started to feel tender and sentimental. And protective. Do not ever mess with her. Ever.
No way was I going to let my mother spend her money on me! If anything, it should be the other way around. I was moved by her offer but this was not happening.
“Mommy, I love you so much! You are so, so sweet to me. But I am not taking your money!” I hung up and chuckled, a little dewy eyed. That was that.
When I finished work that day and went through my messages, there was a second message.
“Hi, Jane! It’s Mom. Take the money. I’m not taking no for an answer. Give me that account number or else. And I mean it, buster!”
She got the account number, and I got a succulent scallop dinner at the shore. They were very pretty scallops.