My mom is celebrating Mother's Day in New Zealand, which, actually, means she celebrated it yesterday. We put together a surprise for when she checks (checked) into her hotel room, but it's very hard on me that I don't get to talk to her today.
So I'm writing this column instead.
The last time my mother came for a visit, I was in the beginning stages of an upcoming heartbreak. I knew it was coming, but was still trying to interpret the sudden absence of communication as a function of a busy life, and not a change in attitude. What that meant was, for two solid weeks, every time the phone rang or beeped with a text message, I hoped it was from the woman I'd fallen for. And every time that phone rang, and every single time it beeped with a text message, it wasn't her. By the time my mom came to spend the weekend with Simone and me, I was edgy and despondent, and not very good company.
That entire weekend, I had no patience for my mother. I'd snap at her, I'd grimace when she'd try to offer comforting words. My sighs and my stomachaches were evident to her, and I knew my misery was causing her pain. And even that pissed me off. Truly, I was inconsolable (epilogue -- once the email came, the cutting of ties, the explanation, I could breathe again. Sure I was heartbroken and bereft, but at least I knew the answer. But those two weeks of no contact, well...).
When we were driving to the airport at the end of the weekend, my mother asked, "Are you okay?" And I just shook my head. She took my hand, and it was all I could do to not let the tears welling up behind my eyes get any mileage. Not with Simone in the backseat.
And I'm embarrassed to say that it was Simone who called me on my behavior as we walked into the door of our apartment, telling me, "Daddy, you should be nicer to Bubbi. She loves you. She's your mother."
I did cry when she said that, though I hid it well enough for her not to realize. What I answered was, "Simone, you're right. Thank you." And then I called my mother, who was waiting to board her plane, and told her what Simone had said to me.
"She's right, Mom. I'm so sorry I was such a jerk all weekend. There's no excuse for it. I love you, and Simone had a wonderful time with her Bubbi." Simone nodded her head and hugged me hard when I got off the phone.
My mother feels all of my triumphs and all of my heartaches so keenly, she can tell if something's wrong from 1,200 miles away before she even picks up the phone. She has been a source of strength and comfort for me these four-plus years, as I've struggled to find my way, to raise Simone, and to put my life back on the rails. There's no way I could be as happy as I am now, if not for her.
And I really am happy, Mom! Life is spectacular. My job is a steady run of challenges and stress, but it's exciting and I'm learning every day. Simone continues to excel in first grade; she has grown to become a charming young lady. Our urban lifestyle suits us both (Simone keeps saying how much she loves where we live), we have a set of family friends who love our company, and, for the first time in years, I'm not struggling on the financial side. I've realized that I can wait for the right woman, and that my happiness is not predicated on being in the kind of relationship I'm craving. So I'm happy.
My mother reads these columns. She forwards them to everyone she knows. They write back to her how much they like what I've written. They tell my mother how she should be so proud of me. This time, though, I hope they'll write to her to say what a wonderful, giving, caring person she is, and how fortunate we all are to have her in our lives.
Happy Mother's Day.
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