Category Archives: lost

Trade Offs

It is February 2nd.  February isn’t the best month for me.  If you have followed me for a while, you know that today is the anniversary of my mother’s death.  In addition, the second most influential woman in my life, my mother’s mother, died on February 10th.

These two women have left an indelible mark on my life, although my life path hasn’t exactly followed theirs.

As a child in Tennessee, I had my grandmother just a short walk from my house. When I was lonely or had argued with my mother, I had only to make the short walk … where my grandmother would offer me my grandfather’s leftovers of country ham and biscuits. She would listen to me and let me sit with her at the kitchen table, or she would ask me to help her snap beans.

My son could use a grandparent next door. He is adjusting to yet another transition in schools. He has entered middle school, only two years after our big move to Wisconsin. He is a sweet boy, but he longs for acceptance. I know that longing. It was that longing that made me choose this life path unlike my mother’s … to live away from my hometown and family. Moving away meant that my children would go to school in a more racially diverse community, but it also meant that we would sacrifice the proximity of family.

This week, after a nice spell of having my husband home in a holiday holdover, he resumed his travels for work. It has struck both the boy and me very hard. Our family is fractured, and we’re both lonely. We miss family and the comfort we had in Virginia with friends we had spent ten years knowing … they were our family there.

We are building friendships in Wisconsin, but it will take another ten years to have what we once had. Perhaps someday we will be able to impulsively invite our friends over for dinner like we did in our Virginia days. Or we could drop in and have leftovers at a friend’s house.

As a mother, I want to see my son build lasting friendships. But lately, his desire for friends is wound up tightly with the dynamics of middle school, and he is having a hard time untangling his feelings. I listen, but I also do not want to risk alienating him from me. It’s a fine line. We are our family here. I cannot risk that loss.

However my mother did what a mother is supposed to do, she risked that loss. She watched as her child move away, and I know that it broke her heart to be so far from me and my sister.

In the loneliness of February 2001 with the excitement of the holidays behind her, she quietly slipped away. February is indeed a hard month …

I am mother. Hear me roar!

A year ago, my son lost his most treasured possession, a small Gap Hopper simply named “Bunny” at the Nick Hotel in Orlando. And with Bunny’s disappearance, I realized that I had allowed my professional life to eclipse my family life.

At the end of our stay, I was too busy refining my course syllabus to make the final sweep of the hotel room. I had my first class meeting the next morning at 9 a.m.

Irreplaceable, Bunny continues to come up in conversation. “He won’t know where to find us when we move.” “He’s never seen Wisconsin.” Now, his younger, yet bigger cousin, Bunny #2 keeps vigil.

My mother struggled with her role as a stay-at-home mother. I remember her saying things like, “I just want to have something that is MINE,” or “I need a reason to get out of the house.”

Insensitive, I grew up telling her I would never marry, let alone have kids, and that I would live the hopping life of a New York journalist, driving my BMW and writing for the Rolling Stone. How that must have hurt her. She had spent her life making mine better.

When my son was born, I struggled with my immature feelings about being the young hot shot. But caring for him day to day became the most gratifying job I’d ever had. And when my mother died during my son’s eighth month of life, a part of me felt I should give him what she had given me. During the funeral, my sister told me that our mother felt that I had honored her by following in her footsteps. But the struggle was only suppressed.

I eventually became an adjunct professor, a freelancer and an AIGA board member in Virginia. But remember Bunny? Mommy took a back seat.

Recently our move to Wisconsin allowed me to step back and re-evaluate the past year. The loss of Bunny will forever remind me of my inadequacy in my position as mother.

I tell myself daily that will never occur again. My children are growing up, and each day brings a new revelation.

Last night at 1 a.m., my son came into our room. He was frantic. Bunny #2 was lost. We searched the entire house until 2:30. At which point, I could not sleep. Where could he be? We would not lose another Bunny. Not under my watch.

My search lead me to the dirty, snow-covered curb. Armed with a flashlight, in my pajamas, a coat and boots, I searched our recycle wheely bin. And half way down, Bunny #2 looked up at me as if to say, “Thank goodness! I wondered if you would come find me before the trash truck arrived!”

I am mother. Hear me roar!