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 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 let go.
I always called my mom every day
As 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 overwhelmingly. 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 school trip, 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 returned to work, I would call on my drive — thankful for cell phones this time. 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, even though we spoke daily, 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, marriage, and 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 hoped they would someday be. She was there every step of the way. She knew my kids the way I knew 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, thoughtful, and comfortable and oftentimes 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 end of her life, she told me, “I keep thinking I need to call my mom and tell her I am dying.” Those words broke me because I completely understood. 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 loved, but no one loves you like your mom does. No one wants my “details” the way she did.
Then yesterday, my son called on his drive to work, and I realized it was my turn. My turn to be the one he calls. My turn is to listen and love and start someone else’s day. I will always answer — to listen with my heart — to make my mom proud. And I will know she is with us every time the phone rings.