Last Friday, my husband and I tacked on two extra hours to our babysitter request to sneak out for after work drinks. The week had been oddly brutal for random reasons: Wednesday seemed to be proclaimed be hostile to Sue day, Thursday was littered with unpleasant emails and Friday zoomed in at the tail of never ending to do lists.
I was sitting across from my husband at Portland Craft, pretending I live on Main Street and happily sipping an amaretto sour. An hour in, Mike started to become jittery, disappearing to the washroom and ‘checking the score on the hockey game’ on his phone at the table. I was blathering on about something when I saw his gaze shift slightly and his face brighten up.
My daughter Ella suddenly materialized beside me, fresh off a plane from Edmonton. I had been totally punked, never suspecting my man and girl had been scheming a trip to Vancouver for Mother’s Day weekend for many weeks. My hands flew to my mouth in shock and I grabbed her, hugged her, and burst into grateful tears. I last saw her over two months ago, and my heart ached heavy for her. She is a beautiful young woman, inside and out, a light of my life.
Mike and Ella had a good giggle about my shocked reaction. I had suspected nothing, and I think this is the first time I had ever been truly surprised. It is difficult to surprise someone who keeps a tight reign on the family schedule. I like to know every little thing that’s going on so I can dutifully record all activities in my date book.
I had told Mike that all I wanted for Mother’s Day was to see my far-flung kids, knowing full well my eldest was in the US and not travelling and wistfully hoping for some miracle that Ella (busy, in between semesters of nursing school and working) would visit.
The emptying nest has been a sad phenomenon for me as a mother. I put my deep longing to see my older children in a little box in my heart that I take out only on occasion: when I’m driving and a Mumford & Sons song comes on; when I set the table for three instead of five; when I’m trying to fall asleep at night. These are rather pathetic occurrences and my only solace is that my kids are independent, strong of character and living the lives they want. And, they generally respond to my texts on a timely basis. What more can a mother ask for? My loose parenting philosophy is this: make sure they are securely attached in their younger years and then let them go. This is hard heart-breaking work.
Ah, but the reward of seeing them, even rarely, is very rich. We do not take each other for granted. All weekend, I delighted in Ella’s presence. We roamed up and down the streets of Vancouver, eating sushi & burritos & doughnuts (not all at the same time) and shopping for shoes. We went for pedicures. Ella played soccer with Aaron’s soccer team. Both kids made me a lovely breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day – eggs benedict on a sesame bagel with avocado and sausage. They concocted artful handmade Mother’s Day cards – Aaron under the guidance of his sister, carefully crafting the letters M in Mom like hearts. We sprawled on the couch together and watched Amazing Race. We basked in the sunset on Spanish Banks.
Soon it was Sunday night and time to take Ella to the airport. This was the over part and yes, I cried at the departure drop off area. Ella said, ‘don’t cry or I’ll cry’ so I stopped and held my sobs until I hit Marine Drive back home.
But then I remembered this good Dr. Seuss quote. Am I blessed? Yes. Have I done my job as a mom? Yes. I saw Ella for a sweet 48 hours and enjoyed every single second of it. Happy Mother’s Day to me and to you too. I hope that you felt loved and expressed love this weekend, because in the end, that’s all that really matters.