My sister scolded me. But my mom understood.
I got mad at my three children one day when they were youngish and terrible. I needed more than a time-out. I ran away. Only as far as the local library in our little Colorado town, but it was far enough. Far enough for me; too far for them.
I don’t think she was particularly scared, but my daughter called my sister anyway. I think she just wanted me to get in trouble with someone. Anyone.
My daughter also called my mother who lived in California at the time. Talk about tattling!
When I returned home, my sister called, asked the obligatory questions and got the appropriate answers to determine I wasn’t in immediate need of medical or psychiatric care. But then she scolded me.
Later, my mother called too. When I told her the story of the behavioral chaos of my children, expecting more scolding, she laughed. “I’ve done the same thing,” she said. “Many times.”
I was immediately calmed and exonerated.
I was reminded of this story today because I sat on the deck reading DEAR MRS LINDBERGH by Kathleen Hughes. It was a book I had given my mother as a gift several months earlier. She’s becoming more and more housebound caring for her declining husband. She has very few needs, so books, I’ve decided, are an excellent gift.
She lives in an apartment without much shelf space, though, so she carefully writes the name of the gift giver on a sticky note and returns the books when she’s finished. Often, she’ll include a note about how she enjoyed it — or didn’t.
Sometimes I give books I’ve read that I know she’ll like. Other times I browse and find books I think she’ll like.
Such was the case with DEAR MRS LINDBERGH. I hadn’t read it, didn’t know anything about it. But I know Mom likes historical fiction, which this wasn’t, really, but it had that feel to it.
When I got to the end, I found a note from my mom tucked into it. In her precise cursive she told me she liked this one. She added, “On a very small scale I can relate to Ruth’s desire to fly away for an adventure of her own.”
Reading her note literally took my breath away.
My mother had eight children. I’m number seven. I was an adult before I ever knew — or thought to ask — if she had dreams for her life that didn’t involve a swarm of kids. She was a young teenager during World War II and the nurses captured her imagination. But then she turned 18, got married and immediately started having children. She and my dad never had any money. Nursing school was out of the question.
“On a very small scale I can relate to Ruth’s desire to fly away for an adventure of her own.”
I know Mom would say she’s had a perfectly fine life. But my heart has several tiny Mom-shaped cracks in it today.