My mom came to visit recently. This is a treat that occurs only once or twice a year, since she lives in Australia and I’m in Texas. Her stays are usually 4-6 weeks, and believe me when i tell you that’s never long enough. A few days after she left here, she was visiting my sister.
I told her over the phone that since she’d left, one of the kids had a bad virus and was throwing up and having diarrhea. Amazingly, she offered to come back. Yes, she’d been here for weeks, and was probably eager to return to her own life and home and NOT to my kid’s virus, but she sincerely offered anyway. Now that, y’all, is a mother’s love.
I declined her offer, though, and she’s been back to her home for a few days. Tonight I called her and when she answered, I said, "Hi. Have you seen my shoes? The gray and yellow New Balance ones?"
I love what she said next.
"Um. Are.. are… you talking.. to me?"
Then we started lapsing into Robert De Niro impersonations "Are YOU.. talkin’ … TO ME?"
Mom said, "Kelsey, I’m in another hemisphere, you know."
"Oh I know, but I haven’t seen my shoes since you were here, and I thought maybe…"
Really, I thought she’d tell me ‘yes, they’re (fill in the blank)’ or ‘no, haven’t seen ‘em.’ And then we’d move onto discussing the Australian version of The Biggest Loser or something else.
We went back in time, to where I’m nine, and she’s patiently doing the "when was the last time you saw them?" routine. A routine, I might add, I go through with my own kids ALL THE TIME. And yet? I didn’t see the twists and turns of that old familiar conversation coming. I have no idea why.
Mom first asked me if they were on the shelves in the closet.
I stopped feeding the baby his cereal and ran and checked.
Then she asked if they were under my bed.
I ran and checked.
Then she asked if they were in a different place in my closet.
I gave the baby another bite, then ran and checked.
Then she asked "Are they under the couch?"
I fed the baby a spoonful of cereal, and said, "Of course not." All indignant and stuff, because that’s what you do when you’re the obnoxious shoe-loser in this conversation. "WHY would they be there?" Pfft.
"Don’t get all philosophical on me, this is about thinking of places and then checking them." She used her ‘don’t mess with me, I’m-the-Mom-Tone-of-Voice.’
So I bowed to that supreme authority and ran and checked.
She suggested I look between my nightstand and the changing table.
"Ooh, yeah. That’s a good one." I start to run and check when the I’m-the-Mom-Tone-of-Voice returns and says, "Maybe you should start by telling me where you HAVE looked."
Oh, that one floored me. I got the giggles, because how many times have I had this same conversation with my kids? Countless times, and yet I somehow hadn’t seen that one coming.
I also hadn’t seen it coming that I would get back to the bedroom, flip on the light again, and Ethan would sit straight up in bed and blink at me. I screamed. "WHAT are you DOING there?"
He laid back down and went to sleep. I hadn’t noticed him when I’d been in there a minute before, looking under the bed. I left him there, and reported to Mom that my shoes were not between the nightstand and the changing table after all.
I got a workout, the baby eventually got dinner, and Mom patiently told me that they were probably in my closet, and that she had a call on the other line. It was her sister, so I told her to say hi for me. (And that I was busy regressing into a nine yr old, looking for my tennis shoes.) No doubt, she did.
Sometime over the last years, my mother turned into one of my dearest friends. But tonight, it was all about the shoes, the mom, and accidentally re-discovering that we can lapse into an age old mother-daughter conversation without skipping a beat. I loved it all. Thanks, Mom.
Updated: They were in the closet. You were so, so right, Mom.
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