Sometimes I have this lunatic moment in my mind where I just want to reach out to the poor soul who happens to be walking on the street next to me, take her by the shoulders, lock eyes with her and impress from my heart—YOU SHOULD CALL YOUR MOM!
Recently, as I was driving home from one of those energizing and draining experiences where I felt the emptiness of giving it my all with the lightness of success, I just wanted to call my mom.
It wasn’t like she was the only one who could understand what I was doing or how exactly I felt because in a lot of ways she never really tried to understand. She didn’t need to.
It was really just that I had a bumper-to-bumper drive between me and my family, and it was dinner time.
Dinner time is a horrible time to call anyone. If you grew up as a child of the 80s, you know exactly what I mean. The 5 elements of your family have finally been wrangled to the table. Likely tears in the eyes of one sister, a haughty pout on another, and the screams of a too-hungry-and-tired little one round out the chorus. Dad in his stiffly laundered dress shirt, buttons open, slides into his seat; his car still tinking in the carport from his recent arrival home. Mom with potholders and lidded corning ware dishes, setting down the final steaming sidedish of buttered peas.
Then, the phone rings.
For a moment, it stops everything. Even the too-tired-toddler strapped into the highchair pauses for a moment.
Maybe it is a grandparent. Or a sister. Maybe…
Slowly, Mom stands back up to retrieve it, to answer the incessant ringing of the plastic, cream-colored machine hanging on the wall, and offers her typical, reserved and skeptical, “hello?”
The family stares and waits.
And then, much to the dismay of the adults and ambivalence of the kids, she responds, “no, we are not interested.” And hangs up.
SEE!? I cannot call anyone at dinner time!!
Especially not for the purpose of “just because.” “Just because I need a distraction and I’ve been meaning to find a time to call you anyway.” No. Don’t do it.
I mean, go ahead and call your best friend or your sister at 9PM or 10:30AM, but dinner time, do not even dare.
But your mom…you can call her anytime. Dinner time, the middle of the night (though I never tried that!), first thing in the morning, middle of the day.
Whether she was in line at Target, vacillating between two Carters layettes at Costco, in the fitting room at Ross, walking into an appointment, or just about to sit down to dinner with my dad, she would answer the phone.
Even now, as I write those words, both the smile of memory and the tears of grief fill my face.
Recently, I was with a fabulous group of women friends who were chatting and connecting deeply. About life’s moves, about the challenge of kids and marriage, about our roles and identities, about the Still Soft Voice.
I was sitting and soaking and enjoying the reflections and depth of heart. And then it happened.
They started talking about calling their moms.
It was like something that I fully understood, yet could already feel the distance creeping in. The distance between the time I could last pick up the phone and call her.
I remember when I last did it, too. It was a summer night. I was heading up north to meet a friend for the evening. In the car again.
Instead of lamenting that my mom couldn’t answer the phone on her own and giving up, I decided to try it. And there, that evening, we talked. We talked and chatted and did what mothers and daughters do. Talking “just because.”
And now, that evening is a sign post of grace. Of doing what’s hard, of savoring, of not giving up. And that was the last time I called her. And the last time she picked up the other end.
So, I guess that’s where the lunatic comes in.
It’s like a perspective I see so much more clearly now, as if from the other side. About the value of time. About the value of those everyday people. About the preciousness of those “just because” moments.
So…sorry if you’re that random stranger on the street next to me…the crazy in my head made me grab you and implore. (So, go call your mom).