Here I am, almost exactly a year to the exact date that I wrote my post Just Breathe while away for the first time ever with my then almost twenty year old college daughter. Hitting the “Publish” button on that one was tough, for sharing my not so perfect life and my emotional state to both friends and strangers alike was a difficult thing to do. I have been thinking about how to follow up on Just Breathe, since arriving in Mexico yet again with my now almost twenty one year old daughter. I was thrilled beyond belief that she has no other friends to go away with (Ha!), my husband agreed to hold down the fort again and her brothers did not respond with a jealous rant when I announced that we were going. I think my comment of, “When you are in college and you ask me to go away with you on your Spring Break…” nipped that one in the bud.
I slept for an hour the night before we departed early in the am while the house was still asleep. We boarded the plane and I took out my copy by Kelly Corrigan of Glitter and Glue that I had purchased at Barnes and Noble before we left. I was so psyched to read it for it had just been released a month prior. I love Kelly’s work and through a circuitous route, she was coming in April to do a reading in our barn from the aforementioned book!!! The timing was perfect, no one could reach me while flying, there would be no interruptions and there was little else that I could find to do on the plane but read…and sleep. Darn, even before take off, my head bobbed and before I knew it, I woke up with it resting on the passenger’s shoulder next to me (good thing it was my daughter and I wasn’t drooling) and the book had fallen to the floor. No worries, I still had twenty or so minutes before landing and a couple of days in front of me to devour it. I began and fifteen minutes later I was, yet again, trying to discreetly mask the tears I was shedding. Didn’t I learn my lesson the last time I read her prior book The Middle Place on a plane sandwiched in between unknown passengers? “Idiot,” I muttered to myself as I frantically searched for a tissue or anything that resembled one. The only replacement that I came across was my pair of sunglasses. I hesitated a moment and then shoved them back in my purse along with the book for I was about to totally embarrass my daughter and myself if I read any further. Her books hit so damn close to home!
A couple of hours later we settle onto the beach. Unlike last year, the weather is delightful and we are tickled pink to be lying on a white sand beach, under a papalusa, Margarita in hand (my favorite drink). I dive into the book again, with sunglasses on, and shortly thereafter I am muttering “idiot” to myself one again…never did stash a tissue in my beach bag. I continue to read anyway and covertly use the edge of my beach towel to wipe at the tears that escape the rim of my sunglasses. For those of you who have not read the book or are not familiar with the subject matter, Kelly, in her writing, explores her relationship with her mother, her own daughters, families and our tenuous hold on this life. She achieves this by revealing a life changing experience as a post college graduate who takes employment as a nanny for a young family who recently lost their mother. In their house, she is suddenly transformed from a young woman on a mission to live life so very differently from that of her mother to reliving the words of her mother again and again as she progresses through each day “mothering” the family that she has found herself bound to. (I don’t want to be a book spoiler so I am trying to give as little detail as possible while getting the concept across.) The book is moving and if you have a mother or are a mother…even more so.
My deep thoughts are interrupted as my cell phone goes off with that little whistle that tells me I have an e-mail. We had been figuring out and trying to get service since we had landed but up until now, we were not achieving much success. Bingo, my email is working and I quickly scour the ones that have flooded in.
There is one from my youngest son’s Science teacher, concerning his Science Fair topic of choice. Something about not enough quantitative information can be ascertained. He will have to change his topic.
There is a cc’d one from my husband to one of our middle son’s school stating why he will be absent today then one from his friend’s mom apologizing for her son, who had slept over this weekend for he had the flu.
Then there was a text from my husband who had been complaining about a nagging sore throat and headache for a few days that he thinks HE has an all out case of the flu.
Another text comes through from my oldest son asking if the chickens could be fed the veggie scraps on the counter or were they for the goats?
Guilt fills me up, overflows and dampens the feel of the hot sun on my back. How could I be away on a beach and shirk all of my responsibilities? What was Cameron going to do tonight as he tried to explore another Science Fair topic when it had taken him two weeks to get to one that he was really into and excited about? Who was going to check in on and make the sick son feel better? Those of you who have husbands…we know what they are like when they are sick. No offense…but I bet you he is in bed.
I waffle back and forth like that, through out the rest of the afternoon…I wish we were all here together…No, then I would never be able to sit still like this and read a book. But really, they would love it. But no, their energy level is that of ten boys their age, Kelsey and I would never be able to carry on a conversation. It goes on and on and on. I then think about a line that I wrote in my blog post a year back when I did this for the first time and went away with only one of my children and I said something like how was it going to all work out with me being the glue that holds everything together??? The glue that holds everything together…Glitter and the Glue…the title of Kelly’s book came from an expression that her mom coined, “Your father’s the glitter but I’m the glue.”How very true and obviously an opinion shared by I am sure, more than two women out there! I then remember a quote from the book that Kelly had highlighted on her Face book page and I searched through the book to find it. There it is, page 213. “I fret over things long after Edward (her husband) clicks off his reading light and goes to sleep – croup, melanoma, insecurity, precocious puberty. Raising people is not some lark. It’s serious work with serious repercussions. It’s air traffic control. You can’t step out for a minute, you can barely pause to scratch your ankle.” I had stepped out and what was I going to do now? What were they going to do?
Well, honestly there was not much I could do from afar. So I sent texts and directives and pictures of the sites and sounds that I knew they would have enjoyed or ones that made me think of them.
The life size chess board to Shane who has been known to play a mean game and has on more than one occasion watched the World Cup of chess matches…I won’t go into that right now.
The cool modern fountain at the hotel to Aidan who likes to take very artsy photos. I just got to check out his Instagram compliments of his sister and was very impressed.
The coconut tree full of coconuts to Christopher for he impressed an entire poolside crowd once by climbing up a tree to pick a coconut by using only his arms and legs. He totally looked like Tarzan.
To Cameron, the only picture that turned out half way decent of the fish that kept swimming by us in the crystal clear water out of the fifty that we tried to take, for he is an animal lover.
I even videotaped footage of the beat boxer that we caught performing as we walked by the entertainment area for I knew that the boys would love it. Totally not air – able.
Sometimes, we as mothers, have to just sit back and let some one else take the reins. Not for a very long time but just to get some air to breathe in. I think that our greatest fear as a mother ( aside from feeling that sometimes our self induced inadequacies will mess up our kids) is that we might stop breathing some day and who would take those reins indefinitely? Who could possibly know what we know about our children and who could ever take our place…and would our children really in truly feel our loss? I shivered as I read from the book the following, “What is it about a living mother that makes her so hard to see, to feel, to want, to love, to like? What a colossal waste that we can only fully appreciate certain riches – clean clothes, hot showers, good health, mothers —- in their absence.” Thank you Kelly for putting those feelings to words and for being my accompaniment on my vacation with my daughter.
My daughter and I go back home in a little more than twenty four hours from now. What am I going to do about the remainder of my brief absence? I am going to continue to have long, long talks with my daughter about everything under the sun. After all, we only get to play this role once in our lives and I am pretty darn sure that how I play it will affect how she does as well. As for my boys, I will have long long talks with them when they go away with me on their Spring Break…in my dreams…so for right now, I will let someone else hold the reins, even if from a bed, and I will pick them back up when I get home soon enough to a house full of overjoyed enthusiasm to see me…again in my dreams.
If you want to see Kelly Corrigan read from the book that I hope I gave justice too, in the barn at Life’s Patina, look for more information and registration links coming soon on our website and other social media pages. The event is April 16th from 12-2 pm with shopping in the barn before and afterwards. A portion of all proceeds will go to the Family Lives On Foundation which I will fill you in on in a later Blog post.