Mothers and kids

I spent Mother’s Day weekend in New York City doing exactly what I wanted to do. It was the opposite of mothering. If there is ever a good time to leave your kids, this wasn’t it. End of school assignments and exams are looming. Tensions run higher in May than they do in December. But this weekend is also a big anniversary for Todd and I, so we got on the plane, met sweet friends there, and ran around celebrating like the kids would raise themselves while we were gone. They mostly did.

While we were gone, Facebook reminded me of a slug habitat that Jenna microwaved in my kitchen 8 years ago, reducing the house to rancid fumes that almost required us to move. The family group chat reminded me that I may never have grandchildren. And New York reminded me that it loves me.

Friday night, after weeping through Wicked, I leaned my head against the cool metal of our elevator and replayed a lovely evening against the backs of my eyelids. A couple stepped onto the elevator as the doors were closing. The man, with a teal colored tie hanging loosely from his open white collar, flipped his long curly hair away from his face and glanced from face to face in the elevator.

“Hello, friends,” he said with a tired smile. He was intoxicated, but in the most pleasant way. His lady friend was holding a strange little potted flower. I have no explanation for that and regret not asking. The man looked at his friend and then down at their feet and said slowly, “Someone made impractical shoe choices, I’m just going to say it.” I looked down at his woman’s feet. They were uncomfortably wedged into glossy purple, plastic heels. She didn’t verbally add to his statement, but nodded and smiled painfully, her eyes fixated on her plant.

I chuckled and remembered back to summer camp in central Florida when I was 13 years old. I chose to wear pink plastic flats on a sweltering day in July. To Disney. By the time we boarded the yellow school buses to return to camp, I almost couldn’t walk the steps to get on. I sympathized with Potted Flowers Lady on Friday night. As they got off the elevator, I said without thinking, “Good luck with your feet!” and the drunk fellow laughed until the doors sealed in the middle and shut him up.

Good luck with your feet was a stupid parting phrase. A person who says things like that while running around New York probably ought not be raising 4 kids. But I am and I’m thankful for the quirky almost-adults that kept each other, and the dog, alive for 3 days. I’m on a plane home to celebrate these humans I love so dearly. My own mother has been gone more than 5 years and was gone a good bit before that. She never got to see the people my kids would turn into, but she influences them in subtle but significant ways even now.

These days of celebration for some are a mixed bag or a day of mourning for others. I’m soaking it all in. Crying (SERIOUSLY crying) babies on planes. My kids taking each other to Cici’s Pizza and charging it to me. My mother forgetting what Mother’s Day even was but thanking me for the blanket I laid across her legs. The day I rode home in the backseat of the car with our first child, ink barely dry on the paperwork to adopt him, praying we would figure out what to do when we got home. The day my second son first heard my voice on the outside.

I’m soaking it all in. Everything but the slug habitats. Those I am trying to forget. Happy Mother’s Day, friends. Good luck with your feet.

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