Saturday, May 12, 2012

What I've learned from my Mom...

Pretty much every one of my qualities can be traced back to my parents. This, of course, includes my absolutely absurd behaviour at any given time, usually exhibited in very inappropriate circumstances. But sadly, this post isn't about my lunacy, rather hers. Let’s start by giving credit where it’s due, shall we? On Mother’s Day, I can’t help but think of what it means to be a mom, and everything I have to be thankful for when it comes to the lottery ticket I pulled in being blessed with the parents I’ve been given. With that praise of course, comes a rather dark side.

Exhibit A. Years ago, as I teetered on the precipice of adulthood, I drove out West to visit a friend of mine. I was already showing signs of maturing into an upstanding young adult, so I’m not sure why my mom was so worried about my road trip. (Yes, I have a daughter now. I get it.) But, without fail, as each one of her kids tested out their new wings of freedom, there were corresponding bouts of irrational behaviour. She made me promise to check in when I was about to stop for the first night. As I packed up the car, I was weak with excitement. It was my first major trip, all on my own. The thought of no adult supervision left me feeling light-headed and dizzy. I had so many butterflies in my stomach that I nearly spewed whilst leaning out the car window to wave good-bye. That would have gone over really well.

And so, after a long day of driving, I decided to call my mom from the road to alleviate her concerns. We chatted for about ten minutes before my cell phone battery went dead. I didn’t think anything of it because we were pretty much done our conversation anyway, and I was concentrating on finding the right exit to get a hotel room for the night. I checked into a cheap, little motor hotel, then marched up the service road to get a bite to eat and buy some trashy magazines. When I returned to my room about an hour later, there was a note taped to my door, asking that I report to the front desk immediately. Puzzled, I headed over to the front of the building and approached the woman sitting behind the desk in the office. She eyeballed me over her bifocals.

Me: Excuse me. There was a note taped to my door, room sixteen, that said to come here immediately.
Her: Yeah, that’s right. The local police department is trying to get a hold of you. It seems they need to speak to you right away.
Me: The police? Are you sure? What for?
Her: How would I know what for? It’s none of my business. I didn’t ask.

The way she was staring at me, she totally felt it was her business. I figured she had me pegged as a drug dealer or an illegal immigrant. I swear she was just shy of jumping over the desk to frisk me herself. Instead, she handed me a slip of paper with a phone number to call. As I headed back to my room, I started to shake, racking my brain for what I could have possibly done to warrant a police search. And then it hit me…something terrible must have happened to someone at home. I quickly dialled the number to the local police department, gave them my name, and told them one of their finest was apparently looking for me.

Constable: Oh, glad to hear from you. Are you alright, then?
Me: Of course I’m alright. Why are you looking for me? What happened?
Constable: By any chance, were you on the phone with your mom recently? In the last hour or so?
Me: Yeah, why? (heart pounding, dreading horrible news...)
Constable: Did you get cut off or something?
Me: By another car, you mean?
Constable: No. I mean was your conversation prematurely cut short?
Me: No. Well, wait, my cell phone battery died near the end of our conversation. Why?
Constable: That’s what I thought. (By this point, the poor dude was having a very hard time stifling his laughter.) Do me a favour and give your mom a quick call to let her know you’re OK. She thought that maybe your call had been disconnected because you’d been abducted or kidnapped or something, so she called us to track down your car.
Me: Please tell me you’re joking. Really, who is this?

Sadly, not a joke. I was beyond embarrassed. M.O.R.T.I.F.I.E.D. That my mom’s concern for me would extend to notifying the police that I went missing, from a phone call, was beyond comprehension. Not to mention, I couldn’t quite understand how she thought I could have been kidnapped from a moving vehicle – maybe she’d been watching too many Superman reruns. I called her immediately; she was so overjoyed to hear from me. I told her that I couldn’t believe she had embarrassed me like that. She just laughed and told me that I’d understand one day. She also mentioned she couldn’t believe how quickly the police department had responded - she asked me to find a phone number for a local florist so she could send them a bouquet of flowers to thank them. At this point, I distinctly recall telling her that placing an order for a floral arrangement would irreparably damage our relationship. I could already imagine the potential clip on the evening news, should the story be leaked:

Breaking story – some of the following footage may contain scenes that are graphic and disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised. Police are following up on a bizarre case involving a teenage girl – it’s believed that her umbilical cord is still attached to her mother. The hospital where she was delivered years ago, could not be reached for comment. Stay tuned as the sordid details continue to unfold. Apparently there's a connection to a local florist shop, which we will continue to investigate.

Flash forward to present day. Now that I’m a mother, I completely understand what drove her to call the police…sort of. (I’m certain the last piece of understanding will come when my daughter decides to take her first trip alone.)

This Mother’s Day, I want to say this:

Mom, thanks for calling the cops to find me when you thought I was in danger. It's kind of amazing to be on the receiving end of that kind of love. I hope you know that the world is a better place just by having you in it. You make being a Mom look easy - I now realize it’s the most challenging assignment one can ever accept. Raising eight kids? You must have had dreams of running far, far away…very, very often. But you didn’t. To the best of my knowledge, you didn't do drugs either. No, you did it all on your own - no hallucinogens or any other mind-altering substances to help. You stuck around and gave us all you had. Every day. You still do. I pray that I’ll always be that brave for those I love. 

Thanks Mom – you hold my heart. Always have. Always will. I love you.


Laura said...

Oh the lengths a mother's love will go! Thanks for sharing

Spamouflage said...

Alone in a soggy hotel room on the side of the TransCanadian highway near Moncton I read your post and started missing my mother immediately. She too would have called the local police detachment.

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