I started writing this post in the middle of last week but I didn't have time to finish. Which was a good thing. Because it wasn't finished. Events unfolded that changed the whole direction. Brought it around in a circle so to speak. Something like the circle of life : )
No it isn't Mothers Day. It also isn't the anniversary of my mothers death, which is in September. And it isn't my mothers birthday. That was actually in mid March and I totally forgot because it was the day I had drive downtown and cross two bridges to take Littlest to the Orthopedic Specialist to get a cast on a broken hand. So I was very distracted and knowing my mother, I'm sure, I hope, she would completely understand and forgive me. I felt horrible the next day when I realized I'd forgotten.
One of my mothers favorite movies was, I Remember Mama. I always liked it too. And I liked the books she shared with me. And going shopping. We shared that too. I was the baby of the family and we spent a lot of time together. From the time I was very small I remember following her around the mall. eating at Piccadilly. Next we would have ice cream by the fountain and I would get a penny to throw in with a wish. Then she would dip a napkin in the fountain and give me a good scrub right in the middle of the mall. My parents continued to spoil me from time to time long after I was grown. Something pretty for my house. New pots and pans. A new outfit. Always a new outfit or some awesome shoes that I looked at longingly in the store. And the grandbabies brought on a new round of spoiling because there was nothing my mom liked better than loading up the stroller and hitting the children's department to find pretty things for the girls. Then we would go to lunch. This was a pattern from my earliest childhood all the way into my thirties. That's how I remember my Mama. I miss my mother so much but, unlike other lost members of my family, I don't even have a special date or time of year that I think of her or write about my memories of her. She is always present in my life as though she isn't really gone. Her voice echoing in my ear. "You're Welcome. I Love You. "Can she hear, Thank You, I Love You too? I think so. And sometimes I think I catch a glimpse, a little message that she is still being my mom. March was a very eventful month for our family and I know she is looking out for us. And perhaps she was getting my attention. Letting me know that motherhood doesn't end and I had more work ahead of me.
Last week during spring break I took Littlest shopping. She desperately needed new jeans and also some shorts for summer. Since Middlest is a 'grown up' now I didn't take her with us. She buys her own things. But I found myself missing bringing her along too. It is much quieter these days with only the baby of the family to shop for. To be honest I was a little irritable and not really in the mood. I left her in the Juniors section and wandered off to the grown up clothes but within minutes my phone rang. "Where are you? Come back and help me." I heaved a sigh. Fiiine. Then she gave me a guilt trip about how this was the last time I ever had to buy clothes for her and she would be gone in November and I wouldn't have to do this anymore. I noticed she was holding a pale blue sundress that definitely wasn't on the list but she smiled and said, "It's Amazing!" "Yes, I replied, but you don't need it. " I know, she said, I just want to try it on for fun and see how it looks on me." After awhile she was ready for the dressing room which is a place that often makes me want to strangle her but I leaned against the wall and waited..and waited..and waited ; ).for her to pop out with each outfit and give her my opinion. The first thing that popped out was the blue dress accessorized with a smile like a beacon. "Yeah, that looks cute on you," I told her.
As I held up the wall a blond woman in her early thirties came in with a couple of things and closed her stall door. A short time later a heavy set woman in the sixtyish range popped her head in and looked around and called out a name. Around the corner the blond woman peeked out but didn't see anyone. I told the older woman she was around the corner and she came in holding a few more blouses. Finding what was obviously her daughters changing room she went in with her. I half listened as they chatted about each outfit. The daughter trying to decide what she liked best. The mom making suggestions, mentioning that one top would look good with her daughters jeans skirt and you could never go wrong with a jeans skirt and finally hinting that they all would do. The door opened and the mom walked out with the hand full of hangers. Her daughter followed close behind. As she passed me the younger woman quietly said, Thanks Mom, to her mothers departing back. You're welcome hon, she casually threw back over her shoulder with a smile. They disappeared into the store. And I...I felt like something precious had been ripped out of me. And I started crying. Right there in the middle of the damn changing rooms, tears started to trickle down my face and I couldn't stop them. Because I missed my mom. I missed her more than anything in this world. I remembered the little smile and sparkle in her eye when she would say, "I'll get it for you." "No Mom!", I would protest but she would answer, "I want to." I recognized that almost embarrassed thankfulness in the daughters voice. Something that we may feel as adults when we are reminded that our parents never really stop caring for us. As well as the muted joy in the mothers voice that she has done something for her child to show her love. That she still enjoys spoiling her a little. Because no matter how old we are we are our mothers 'babies.' Our mothers always love us. You never stop having a mom or being one.
Littlest came out and I told her to hold up a second before we went back in the store. She looked up at me, and immediately concerned, asked what happened. I felt ridiculous but told her and My Baby, my Littlest, stood in the middle of the dressing room with a cast on one hand and an armload of clothes in the other and gave me a huge hug. "I'm sorry", she said, I love you." I said, I love you too." Even though I felt even more ridiculous crying with her clutching me to the point of nearly knocking me over in the middle of a department store changing room. And she is a sweetheart. And it won't be long before she isn't there to give me hugs awkward or otherwise.
I've been focused on the endings. The fact that my youngest child will be graduating soon and will be gone in the fall. I've been thinking, with some delight, of the sudden freedom that will bring. After 26 years of parenting it will be over. Because I'll be finished. And mixed with my delight at that freedom is some sadness. Because I'll be finished. And because my mom isn't here to see how everything is turning out.
Though I sometimes feel I miss that mother daughter relationship in my life, the truth of it is, though the circumstances have been spun around, I still have one, don't I? I have three. I just needed to be reminded.
As we left the store I heard Littlest, "Thank You". I smiled, "You're Welcome."
And you can bet your ass she had that blue dress in the bag : )
Later in the week Middlest was in tears because she needed new clothes and didn't want to get into her savings. Then her tax return check showed up so I suggested that we go shopping. Just us. Something that was rare the entire time she was growing up. I enjoyed watching her model her outfits. I could relish that though she is 'growing' away into an adult. She isn't 'going' away. Not just yet. She's always been the easiest to shop with and we oohed and ahhed over dresses we had no place to wear but would if we did. As we waited in the check out line she nodded at me to look behind me. I heard the excited banter and joking tones. It was some grandparents. I turned around to see an impeccably dressed gray haired women holding a large Horton (Horton Hears a Who) and a jolly grandpa loaded with baby paraphernalia, obviously on a grand baby shopping spree, followed by a young woman with a tiny baby in a sling. Middlest became giggly. And I? I teared up again, only just slightly, in the middle of the same damn department store. This time over grandparents and babies. Because a couple days before.....
She said: There are two pink lines on this thing but the second one is a little blurry.
What does that mean?
It means that in November when My Littlest will be graduating from boot camp and leaving home for good, someone else will be arriving. It means that while my first baby will always be my baby, she isn't a baby anymore. And I have come full circle.
We were working out of town on Monday. When we arrived at our hotel I glanced at our room number. 313. And that, that is my mothers birthday: )
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