I am having a “missing mom” week. Don’t get me wrong–I think of both my parents often and lament that they are not able to watch Everett (and me) grow and change and be happy. But some weeks, the nostalgia kicks into high gear and I find myself wrestling with emotions as I smile at good memories and fight off tiny barbs of sadness and resentment. I yearn to have a conversation–like the one you might have with a long lost friend that you’ve lost touch with for several years. I’ve played it out in my head. “Hey-check out my life now. It’s going really great. You would be so proud. You have got to meet my little boy–he’s amazing.” There is so much to catch them up on. It’s been nearly 9 years since my mom died and nearly 5 since my dad passed away…and in that span of time, my life has developed so many new facets, so much richness that I just want to share.
I’m not sure what exactly has spurred the “extra missing” this week. Mostly mundane things, I think. At our Mommy-and-Me Book Club this week, I brought a game to share for our birthday theme. It was a present unwrapping game that my mom used to do at every one of my birthday parties. You wrap a small prize in a box and then use different colored tissue paper to wrap the box in several different layers. Between each layer, you hide a sheet of stickers. The game is that the kids sit in a circle and pass the gift around, taking turns at removing just one layer of paper at a time to reveal their sticker surprise. The lucky one gets to unwrap the last layer and open the box. I hadn’t thought about these birthday party memories in years, but brainstorming ideas for book club activities brought many memories of homemade birthday parties to the surface.
After that, I think I must have been more open to “mom memories” creeping in. Everett and I shared some strawberry ice cream at The Pied Piper Creamery yesterday, which instantly sent me back to the strawberry milkshakes my mom would make for me when I was little. In classic 1980s, pre-Salmonella savviness, she would add a raw egg into the shake for “extra protein.” While I shudder at the thought of this now, I do revel in the comfort of those creamy “health shakes” she would make using our retro milkshake machine–basically a motorized metal wand attached to a brown base. A fine piece of equipment that belonged somewhere between old-fashioned soda shop and 1970s infomercial.
And then there was the ironing. One thing you need to know is that I NEVER iron. I despise it, mostly because I suck at it! Every time I set out to smooth away creases, I inevitably finish with new wrinkles and waffle-y iron marks all over my clothes. I can’t use a curling iron either… basically the same thing happens to my hair (but that’s a different story.) My mom used to tease me about my iron ineptitude as I would watch her starch my dad’s white dress shirts that he wore to work every day for 25 years. “You need to learn this, because I won’t always be here to do it for you,” she’d say as I snuck pairs of my khaki pants or collared shirts into the mix. My mom was a far cry from a domestic goddess, but she did have an ironing gift. And sadly, I never paid attention to her tutorials. A small thing…but when I dusted the iron off to make my wrinkled shorts (that I hadn’t worn since I bought them in May) wearable, I couldn’t help but think of my mom once again. And in case you are wondering, the shorts are presentable now…but don’t look too close. My mom would not approve.
And to cap off the week, I’ve had a couple of dreams. These dreams of my parents come and go in waves, but they mostly involve very ordinary exchanges in ordinary places. There is no tearful reunion in these subconscious gatherings, just me hanging out with Mom and Dad, telling them about how Everett loves to wear his new rain boots around the house and that I now realize how magical and challenging and incredible it is to be a parent.