Our kids are in their 30s now. It’s the big exhale. They’re grown, finished with school, settled in solid marriages and raising kids of their own. Everything is good. Everybody is on track. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the bathroom scale said I was down two pounds, and I’m having a good hair day.
Life is good.
Mid-morning, the oldest daughter stops by and announces she is going to have laser eye surgery.
“Creepers!” I shout.
Who lets someone reshape their eyes with a laser while they are semi-conscious? She begins detailing the procedure, and I slap my hands over my eyes.
I feign enthusiasm saying, “Wonderful! You can lose the contacts and glasses.”
She accuses me of insincerity. Maybe it’s because she can’t pry my hands away from my eyes.
“Don’t worry. I’ll be fine,” she says.
At noon, our son calls to say he is going to Alaska on business and will email his travel itinerary. He forwards a confirmation for a primitive cabin in the wilderness. It has a wooden platform for a sleeping bag, a table and chairs and a woodstove. The fine print says, “If you want water, melt snow but be sure to purify it.”
“Are you kidding?” I yell into the phone. “Bears!”
He responded by sending a picture of the mountains where the cabin is.
“I can’t see it! My hands are stuck in front of my face. Your sister’s having eye surgery, and now you’re camping alone in Alaska when you could be staying in a nice hotel. May I remind you that you have five kids?”
“Yeah,” he says. “I think it’s going to be very quiet.”
“What does your wife think?”
“She’s very sad — that she can’t go, too.”
“You don’t have to go to the wilderness for peace and quiet. We could come babysit, you know.”
“Don’t worry,” he says. “I’ll be fine.”
I ask him to text when he’s out of the wild and on the job site. He agrees but says it could be late in the day because he’ll be very busy.
How long does it take to text “A-L-I-V-E” to your mother?
My stomach is churning, my hair is wild from running my hands through it, and I am standing in front of the ‘fridge with the urge to graze.
I call our youngest and ask, “What crazy thing are you planning? Skydiving? Running with the bulls? Storm chasing?”
“What are you talking about?” she asks.
“Don’t play that game with me, missy. Your brother and sister just dropped big ones on me, and you’re probably up to something, too. It’s not enough that one of you worries me sick, I know how you like to team up.”
“I’m not up to anything,” she says. “You need to calm down. We’re all responsible adults now. Why would you worry?”
Because once a mom, always a mom. That’s why.
Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.