This Mother’s Day—like other
Hallmark holidays—was celebrated without one of my twins. As I’m sure most moms would agree, college
papers and finals must take priority. In
some ways, mothers of college kids are lucky, because we know where our children
are and have some idea of what they’re up to, if it’s the end of a
semester. Our kids are not in
Afghanistan, or in the Libyan embassy or acting as foreign correspondents in
Syria, and for that I’m deeply grateful.
On the other hand, all mothers like
to feel appreciated. Perhaps in a
different millennium, moms who are full-time care givers will receive a salary
commensurate with their 24/7 efforts.
But in the meantime, I happily accept hugs, kisses, flowers, cards,
gifts, breakfast in bed, dinner out. A
phone call from a college kid is the bare minimum. And it’s even more important to get that
call on Mother’s Day than on my birthday.
Everyone is born on one of 365 days and even then—especially then—mothers
are the ones in labor. Less than half
the population become mothers and still a smaller fraction—I’m sure you’ll
agree—are good mothers. (Fathers, aunts
and siblings are also special, but that’s for a different blog).
I was lucky to have my daughter
come home from college on Saturday.
Sarah has a memory like an elephant and is fond of reminding distant
acquaintances of their ages and birthdays, whether they like it or not. So it was not surprising that Sarah came to
dinner Sunday night with a lovely Mother’s Day card for me and her
grandmother. My husband Henry always
buys me two cards—one funny, one serious—and roses. This year the roses were white and purchased together
on our way home from doing errands. Henry
also bought me a beautiful blazer.
It was a warm, sunny day (that was
going better than many Mother’s Days in the past) except that Max was away at college. He had called the night before– just as I was
falling asleep— to complain: he was stressed out and exhausted; his
ex-girlfriend—who’d falsely accused him of
giving her herpes—had been taken away in an ambulance drunk. He’d gone to the hospital early that morning
to pick her up, and was now behind in writing his paper. He said it was the worst paper he’d ever
“So why not make it better?” I encouraged.
“You still have time.”
His sigh was long and
“You only have two weeks till
graduation,” I pumped enthusiasm into my voice.
“Every college senior is swamped at the end. Finish strong and don’t lose sleep over your
ex-girlfriend. She’s not losing sleep
But after my pep talk, I was the
one losing sleep. Why couldn’t Max just
deal with his schoolwork like other kids? He’d been writing excellent papers at
the last minute for years. If he was so
discouraged now, how would he ever find a job in today’s impossible economy? And why was he wasting time on an
ex-girlfriend who had treated him poorly, and whom he would (hopefully) never
see again after graduation?
When I still hadn’t heard from Max
at 2 pm on Mother’s Day, I began to
wonder if he was going to call me. Or was I only good for the midnight pep talks,
and reassuring him he didn’t have a deadly disease? Henry had reminded Max a few days ago, but he
was still capable of forgetting.
Once, as a C.I.T at sleep-away
camp, he’d called us on Henry’s birthday to say he’d managed to lose both of his
retainers. He’d assured us it wasn’t his
fault. He’d left them in a paper bag
under his bunk bed and “someone must have thrown them out.” No Happy Birthday.
That was years ago. I’m not being
fair. Besides, I tell myself, Mother’s
Day is only half over.
Sure enough, at 5 PM when I return
home to relax before dinner, there’s a message from Max, wishing me Happy
Mother’s Day. I call him back, and we
have a pleasant conversation. This time
he sounds like a nice, normal person who’s tired, but has it all under
control. I get off the phone, wishing
our whole family could be together on Mother’s Day and feeling a twinge of
jealousy that both kids will be here on Father’s Day.
But then I remember all the times
Max hadn’t walked the dog, couldn’t find his cell phone or wallet, wasn’t ready to leave with the rest of the
family, and it’s OK that he’s not here on Mother’s Day.
I smile and I’m at peace. My sweet husband also bought a card for Max
and signed his name. It’s not half bad
having a house half full.
Labels: ADHD. care givers, college, family, holidays, Mother's Day, parent blogs, parenting, twins