My mornings start with coffee. Coffee and a phone call with my mom.
When I was a young adult, I called my mom first thing when I got to work (because I am old and we didn’t have cell phones yet!) Hectic from the rush out the door, frantic from sitting in a stalled line of cars, worried I would be late to a job I really didn’t even enjoy — the call settled me, grounded me for my day. The call reminded me what was important — what I should hold on to and what I should let go.
I always called my mom every day
When I was a stay at home mom with small children, I called my mom while juggling sippy cups with Blues Clues playing in the background. My oldest son woke up way too early and the day loomed before me endlessly and overwhelming. The call connected me to a lifeline, to a source of calm and comfort, a reminder of the power of a mother’s love. The call reminded me that the work I was doing was valuable.
As my children got older the time of the call shifted to later in the morning. After the bus stop. After school drop-off. Maybe after the second trip to school bringing whatever it was that one of the kids forgot at home. The call came later but whatever time it happened, that call was the official start of my day. My day started with that conversation.
When I went back to work, I would call on my drive — thankful for cell phones this time around. My mom knew where I was on the road based on our connection. I always lost her in the same place and she would wait patiently until we could hear each other again.
Despite my long commute, despite the fact that we spoke every day, our conversation was rarely done when I got to my office. I would sit in the parking lot finishing the call. My life was calmer and quieter without young children in the house. I wasn’t as rushed and distracted as I was in the past. Our calls were long and loving and were still the moment that marked the beginning of my day.
My mother died this fall and her absence left a gaping hole
My mom passed away in October…and I am lost. I don’t know how to start my day. I don’t know who to call. My mom cared so deeply about the most trivial parts of my life. She cared about the stain on my carpet. The dress I got was on sale. The recipe I was trying for dinner.
She cared about the big parts too – my work, my marriage, my family.
She knew every step of the struggles with restless babies who grew to be mischievous toddlers who became even more mischievous teens who finally became the responsible, loving adults we were hoping they would someday be. She was there every step of the way. She knew my kids the way I know them. She loved them the way I love them.
I didn’t have to explain anything or defend anyone. She knew it all – so our conversations were easy and thoughtful and comfortable and often times began where we left off the day before or jumped back to a topic from two months ago with no need for transition.
During one of these conversations towards the very end of her life, she said to me “I keep thinking I need to call my mom and tell her I am dying.” Those words broke me because I completely understand. Even though her mom had passed away over a decade ago, she felt the pull in her heart to call her.
My mom was my anchor and my touchstone
Nothing felt real until I told my mom. I saved the details of my day for her — collecting them like shells on the beach to offer her each morning. What do I do now? I am so lucky and so loved but no one loves you the way your mom does. No one wants my “details” the way she did.
Then yesterday my son called on his drive to work and I realize it’s my turn. My turn to be the one he calls. My turn to listen and love and be the start of someone else’s day. I will make sure to always answer — to listen with my heart — to do my mom proud. And I will know she is with us every time the phone rings.