Running Away

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.

10 thoughts on “Running Away

  1. Bethany

    Thanks Becky, I just applied mascara for an appt I am heading to, right before I read this! Usually your humor is what I love about your writing, but this time it was your heart. Beautiful, touching and now I have to re-apply so I don’t have makeup running down my cheek, along with the tear…

  2. Mary

    Sigh. Beautiful.

    I was an adult before I ever knew — or thought to ask — if she had dreams for her life …

    I wonder what my mom’s were … now too late to ask with her memory loss … I hope I can articulate mine for my adult children one of these days soon … and I hope they can articulate theirs … 🙂

  3. beckycc

    Thanks, Ladies.

    Mary … I think that’s the trick, but I also think our generation is better at pursuing our dreams. We have more opportunites than our mothers did and I think those opportunities are easier for us to grab. Many of us have been trying to achieve that balance between what we must do and what we want to do for many years now. Our kids see that on-going struggle. Maybe it will be easier for them.

  4. beckycc

    Thanks, Audrey … I think there actually is a “like” button, though. Look up above the first comment. I don’t know what it does or where it goes, but I just noticed it a couple of weeks ago. Ima click it. You should too. You know, for research purposes.

  5. Jeff

    I remember that day perfectly. I actually called Grandma because I felt the closest to her out of us 3 kids. That was a very scary event for an 8 year old.

  6. Karen Lin

    Mothers often don’t speak of what they’d rather do, because they also sense that if they were doing that out-of-reach thing, they’d be missing what they did as a mother.

    1. beckycc

      And because I think it’s guilt-inducing. Society doesn’t always look kindly on mothers who say they’d rather be doing something other than being with their children. But, of course, we’re required to do things other than being with our children. It’s a cunundrum of the highest degree. We can only hope to do it with grace and good humor.

  7. Shannon Lawrence

    There’s a movie Ashley Judd is in, maybe the YaYa Sisterhood, where she just disappears one day. I thought that was the most horrible thing until I had kids. I’d never disappear for the months she did (if I’m remembering correctly), but I suddenly understood why a mother would have the urge to just take off one day, how she could just breakdown to that point. It gets overwhelming. No one appreciates what you’re doing. You lose so much of yourself for awhile. You live and breathe your kids, your house, your husband.


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