I heard “Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin while I was at work the other day. Do you know the song? The first time I heard it, I was a child, and I knew it was the story of my life, even then. Or at least, the first 1/3 of it.
Then the second 1/3.
I’ve been thinking about writing a blog post about a change I’ve made in my life, but my internal editor has been going nuts. “Don’t share that, you’ll sound holier than thou, like you want a pat on the back. Some people don’t have mothers, you know. You’ll make them sad.” Basically, every variation of “shut up, you’re stupid” that my dark side can come up with. Let me tell you, when I’m working a lot like I am now and I’m tired, my dark side is very chatty. I haven’t posted a blog for over a month because this is what I want to say, and everything else is trapped behind it:
Call your mother.
If you can. If she wants to hear from you. If you’re just too busy. If it’s hard. If she’s getting old. If you will regret not staying in close touch when she is gone, call her now. Call her every day.
Yep, I knew it. Now I feel like a jerk, and I’m staring at those sentences thinking of revising them to something that relates only to me, so I don’t sound stupid. Like, “I’ve been calling my mother every morning for about a month now.” I mean, really, what’s so special about that? Lots of people (better than I) call their parents every day. Do things for them, even. Not everyone left home at 18 and basically never went back because they were too sensitive to handle the family dynamic. You know that scene in that V.C. Andrews book where Cathy goes back and pours wax on her paralyzed grandmother’s hair? I understand those emotions, although that scene horrified me.
My mother stays at home taking care of my invalid father, and she doesn’t call me because she knows how busy I am. She’s actually said that. For years. And I did my best to call her, but I wasn’t that good at it. What sparked the change? What actually drove home the point that I needed to take ten minutes out of my “busy” day to check in with the person who labored to teach me unconditional love?
My friends’ mothers are dying.
And it is devastating to them. I’m making soup, lasagna, and salted caramels. I’m texting, checking in, and listening, but there is really nothing I can do to help. And I know I will be devastated one day, too. These friends are two of the closest I have in my life, and they are lucky because they kept their mothers close, talked to them often, and said all of the things you need to say before your Mama goes. So this is partly selfish, I guess. Eventually, I will lose my mother, and I can’t lose her like this.
It’s 8:27 am. The kids are walking to the bus stop. I always watch them to make sure they don’t get abducted by aliens while I’m cleaning up the breakfast and lunch-making mess in the kitchen. That’s my cue to call my mother. And Sunday afternoon’s exhaustion is my cue to FaceTime her and walk around the house spotlighting her grandchildren and her son-in-law cooking dinner shirtless. To share my busy life with my mom. It’s filled a hole in my life I didn’t know I had, and I’m glad I still have the opportunity to do it. She doesn’t mind if I put her on speakerphone while I clean up the kitchen or fold laundry.
Happy February, everyone! Call your mom, if you can! I will dedicate a yoga practice to those of you who can’t, for any reason. For healing and peace. For memories being blessings, and ever and always LOVE.