I can never voice enough how grateful I am, how privileged I feel to be a Mom. My first taste of that best part of life was as a step Mom to two little ones. Five and eleven when they came into my life. Oh the fun we had and the myriad things they taught me. Coming from single life, totally unprepared was I for things like shopping for four, not to mention laundry, carpool, homework, bath time, organizing snacks for games, slumber parties, birthday parties, Halloween costumes, tummy aches, splinters and skinned knees. Fortunately, they were both flexible and forgiving and above all… loving. In the fullness of time came my own son who now is, unbelievably, 27. Being on location for a six month stint, we’re not on the same continent at the moment. I don’t know how I’d manage this canyon of separation without the connectivity the virtual highway provides. Not the same as in person to be sure but atleast, to the degree he allows and life permits, I can stay in the loop somewhere near, I’d like to think, the inside track of his good life.
Today, contemplating this grand and holy adventure of parenting, memories and moments flood my mind and heart. One such took place two days before his 16th birthday. We were rushing to get out the door for the early morning school run. Our chestnut lab Harley, I guess missed the first cues for this routine departure and so bolted to catch up and jump into her usual seat for the ride. In doing so, however, she inadvertently took me out. I remember hearing her gallop apace from behind me and next thing I knew I was on my ass on the pavement looking at my extended right leg at the end of which was my foot hanging at a sharp right and distinctly unnatural angel. The pain was not immediate but I knew it would be upon me soon. I told Lucius to call 911 and to bring me a blanket as I figured my body would soon be going into some kind of shock. He made the call and returned momentarily with a blanket but also with my mascara. Good man. In short order when the paramedics were with us and I guess because of all the funny angels involved they enlisted Lucius’ help as they lifted me onto the gurney. He was to keep my foot and leg level as they lifted. He did so with utmost focus and then on the brief journey to the hospital had all of us laughing with fart jokes. Good man again. As they were getting me situated his Dad, Loosh my ex-husband appeared. Apparently, Lucius had alerted him to this early morning mishap and Loosh had kindly whisked over. I’ll digress to say that in spite of our divorce, family bonds remained lovingly, seamlessly in place throughout our son’s childhood.
Lucius was young but there, demonstrably, were those early proofs of his ability to lead and to be intuitively empathic.
Another such example had been just a few months before when he and his Dad had been returning from a soccer game that his Dad had perhaps a little over enthusiastically, coached. As they drove back to my house his Dad seemed suddenly confused and drowsy. Lucius insisted they get off the freeway and drive to an emergency room. Loosh reluctantly followed his young son’s directive and a good thing too as he was diagnosed with experiencing a heat stroke.
I think I’ve used up my bragging rights for the day and so turn thoughts to my own Mom, Marshelline Patton. Not for nothing was she a Patton. Marshie, as she was known, was a force of nature, a great beauty with a fearsome tilt into life. Our relationship had bumps but at no time could I nor did I doubt that my sister and I were unconditionally loved by her.
Mom died nine years ago and second only to raising Lucius, being her primary care giver over her last months has been the privilege of my life. We laughed, cried, talked, settled scores and physically labored together all the while trying to make sense of the concept of death, through her travail. The first time I bathed her, I felt a momentary resistance to touching parts of her body I had never laid hands on before. As if by magic my hands reminded me of the thrill of caring for my baby’s tiny body which in turn connected me to the bank account of love Mom had poured into my own baby body and love showed me the way. At a later date, nearer the end I sat bedside attempting to spoon feed Mom with a little bit of yogurt. She was present, to the extent the morphine would allow, I’d not slept in days…we were quite the pair. The thought came that I could not keep this up and again as if by magic I felt Mother’s mother, Mamaw’s arms wrap lovingly around me from behind guiding my hand to feed her dying daughter. There was the thread, the connectivity to infinite Motherlove right when I, when we most needed it.
I felt those two with me again this morning. I had come to the end of a tube of expensive face goop and the Scottish in me cut it open so as to be sure I had used the last drop. Mom had taught me that when, after she was gone, I had been clearing out her dressing table and I’d found a tube of expensive face goop I’d given her, cut in half. Where I wonder had she learned that? Yes, Mom had been a child of the depression but I imagine she had witnessed Mamaw save and use everything in the home with great economy so as to get by thereby instilling inadvertently a useful core value in her daughter. Connected again.
Every trial, every joy of parenting informs the soul. I’m grateful to my maternal ancestors today, for their continuing presence known and unknown in my life. I joke often to my son when I exasperate him once again to “Wait until you’re a Mother”… for then he will know the wellspring of deepest joy he has given me. Happy Mother’s Day one and all.