Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ship to Shore

There's this book I used to read my kids called "Are You My Mother?" In it a squawky-looking bird falls out of his nest and goes looking for his mother so he can find his home. It's the kind of book young children love and parents find a little repetitive since the bird has to find the wrong thing over and over before he finds the right thing, saying, is this his mother? Is that his mother? Is the steam shovel his mother? The kids love it because most of the things the bird questions are very obviously not his mother so they get to yell out a resounding, "No!" each time.

Fun, I guess, unless you happened to have misplaced your mother, as I have.

February 6th she went gallivanting off with Stepfather, bound for South America on a Holland America cruise. That day sister number one got a phone call. They were on the ship resting and they would be sailing shortly. After that? No word.

So I'm like that squawky bird, faintly irritable, looking for my mother.

I get somewhere early and am waiting in my car so I think, hmmm, I've got a bit of a wait; should I call my mom? Or I gather up tidbits of news and I think, I need to tell my mom about this. I think I'll give her a call. Or I get home, plop on my bed, the phone nearby, and I think, okay, time to give mom her daily call.

But maybe it's about time I faced the fact that it's not really her daily call at all - it's my daily call. Because I end up calling everyone else - just like the bird in the book - is this sister my mother? Is Husband my mother? Who will fill in during the cruise month? Who wants to hear all my stupid crap, the odds and ends, the accumulated junk that only a mother could be interest in?

I'm not the only one feeling vaguely disoriented. First there were some inquiry-type emails going back and forth among the other members of our seven sister litter. Then we started getting alarmed. I had a vague concern about the boatload of senior citizens marooned in South America, perhaps all completely computer illiterate, all arriving in the ship's "Internet Cafe" and wondering how they could order some Folger's.

Finally, at sixteen dollars a minute, one of the twins got a message to her, attached as the greeting to the  manicure she had to purchase just to communicate at all. Then our mother called. She left a message. They're having a great time. They're rounding the tip of Peru. Don't call back.

How annoying is it when you miss someone and they don't miss you? Or you are missed but you're having too much fun to think? Do you save up conversational odds and ends for certain people? Have you read this book to your kids?


  1. I thought I was doing a good thing by sending my mother a quick text about the issues/incident at my son's university the other night. She didn't check her phone until I was in a meeting the next day. She called and I couldn't talk. It went round and round. I guess I should have realized she wouldn't have heard about it on the West Coast and left the original "#2 is okay" text unsent.

  2. I am a horrible and dysfunctional phone caller. Luckily my mom has 5 other good children to call her. It just never occurs to me to pick up a phone and call about anything.

    I would start to freak out if I heard nothing while they were on a cruise, but it would take me about 4 days to notice nothing was going on.

    Thinking I need to start forcing a once a day call, my mom would like that.

    I've always liked that book. I should find it for my little one.

  3. Oh my god! I am laughing and shaking my head. Are You My Mother? was my absolute favorite book when I was little. Mama got SO sick of reading it to me. It's still a joke, to this day.

    And? I call her every day. And when she's out of town she never calls me and it makes me nuts!

    Obviously, I can relate to this post! How dare she tell you not to call! Hmph!

  4. Nicki, I would say that's like us but my mom has no idea how to retrieve a message on her cell phone! And a text? No. She still calls emails "faxes." You see what I'm dealing with.

  5. Charlotte, It did take about a week for us to get alarmed but then it was like we were of one body and one mind (must be the big family syndrome...) because then we panicked as one! Now I guess we'll have to squelch our anxiety as one.

  6. TKW, I swear I was deprived as a kid. My mother read me nothing except this unbearable antique book about a Moose and sang Que sera Que sera. But this type of book can get to you after a while! Where's the darn mother already?

  7. Great post! And, yes, it is frustrating and unnerving to miss someone when they don't seem to miss you! Must get this book for the kiddos :)

  8. Aidan, especially when it's a parent, I think we get used to leaving our parents behind our whole lives, like we're the ones with such interesting, dashing, busy lives. Then suddenly, what do you know? I have the boring life and my mother's out gallivanting around the world!

  9. I think about that book in a different light. Seriously, I think my kids often wonder who their mother is. Well, at least my son. My daughter has started calling me "mommy" finally. i guess I have a little bit of hope?

    Anyway, I used to call my mother everyday until I realized it frustrated me. I am in the process of re-evaluating our relationship. I'll let you know how that goes. : )

  10. lol, your mom is probably having the time of her life.
    I still remember calling my mom's house...couldn't get a hold of her for three days. Nearly drove back to Michigan...finally, I call and she answers...
    me...I say
    'WHERE WERE YOU?!!!"
    She goes "Off riding my new motorcycle...MOTHER!"
    She and my step dad had purchased a Honda Gold wind and had gone on a 'road trip.'
    I say " I hope you were careful."
    children er...parents.

  11. Amber, I think sometimes it's hard for our mothers to accept us as mothers when we're new to it. My mother has always ranted at me, "I raised seven daughters!" Implying she knows how to do everything better than me, even with my kids! So, yeah, you probably need a little space till she gets over that!

  12. Chris, I really hope my kids have the same problem with me and my husband after their at college! That would be great if we're off traipsing around the world and they get to worry about us!

    But I mean, really. They're having THAT good of a time. I thought her life revolved around us...

  13. Love this! We're happy to listen to your "stupid crap." And we don't even think it's stupid! (I talk to myself, and one very lovely woman a few states away, who listens to ALL my stupid crap with incredible patience and forebearance. She's a parent. I think it serves as training for that. And it's always appreciated.)

    Good day for travel tales, apparently! (And don't forget your tiara when it's time for your acceptance speech, uh... list... cryptic? moi?)

  14. That book is an inter-generational family favorite chez Motherese. I just read it to Big Boy earlier today. I think it's always easier to miss when one is the party left behind, pursuing her day-to-day activities, and easier to be missed when one is living it up on a cruise!

  15. One of mine and my daughter's favorite books! I love your take on it, love the "litter" and "don't call back" - now we'll see what happens once she gets home...!

  16. Thanks BLW! (And thanks for the award - I might be slow but, hey, I read your blog!). Okay, then, I guess I'll keep the crap coming, er, keep writing my entries, that is.

  17. Kristen, writing this piece, though, kind of made me wonder how enamored adoptive families would be of that book - like isn't the bird looking for a mother bird who looks just like him? I just want you to know that reading your blog has made me too brainy. I would never have thought that before!

  18. Lisa, it is a little weird when we all work each other up into a frothing lather about something, emails flying back and forth, texts flying hither and fro. And of course, you'd understand this well. It was the attorney sister who finally wouldn't accept no for an answer and got through! Typical.

  19. I love this post for many reasons.
    1. "Are you my mother?" is a book we own & adore, countless times over. I've read it to my 4 kids until we had to buy another one. Then we got the Spanish version, "Eres mi mama?" which for me, flows even better in places than the story in English. Love This Book!

    2. My own parents took a similar sounding South America cruise 2 years ago. They were gone a very long time and adored the trip. We, their 5 children, however, did not. For similar reasons that you state. How was I going to get my daily (if not, twice daily) mom phone call fix? How could they do this to us?

    They did. And they've done it again & again. (They just got back from a Hawaaian cruise two weeks ago & I'm still recovering...)

    PS: Saw your guest post on Motherese today. Lovely! Motherese is a wonderful blog, as is yours.

  20. Terresa, that is so funny. Last year my mom and stepfather went on a month-long cruise to the Hawaiian Islands and this year it's South America. And yes, the seven of us are desolate, sending a few emails back and forth but waiting for our mom to return so she can be our switchboard operator!

    We told them to go enjoy themselves but, really, these are long trips!