Friday, May 21, 2010

Flashback Friday

Here's an oldie but goody I wrote for the Post-Bulletin almost exactly two years ago. Happy Friday!

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My husband has this Mother's Day thing down. He's concocted what he calls a "win-win-win." Here's how it goes: He and the boys head north to spend the fishing opener at Grandma's house… and I stay in Rochester.

By myself.


It's genius, really. Jay gets to fish. The boys get to see grandma. I get to be alone. (Had I mentioned this part?)

As they squeeze into the van on Friday afternoon, amid mountains of tackle boxes and fishing rods, snacks and stuffed animals, books and DVDs, I give my boys roughly 1,323 kisses. I remind them to be good. I remind them to eat healthily. I remind them that I love them more than all the stars in the sky and more than all the fish in the sea and all the way up to the sky and down to the earth.

My six year old says, "I love you, my cute, precious Mommy." My eight-year-old says, "Love you, too, Mom… can we start the movie?"

They pull out of the driveway and I wave madly. They drive down the block and I wave madly. They turn the corner — and even though I'm pretty sure they're not looking anymore — I wave madly. And then, right before they're out of view, I panic.

I think, "My entire life is in that van." And I fight the urge to sprint down the street and stop them from going. Or at least go with them, so if they end up in a fiery crash on the highway, at least we'll all crash together.

Which is a horrible, morbid thought. But it's true.

And just when I start thinking I'm the worst mother in the whole world for letting my kids leave on Mother's Day weekend, they turn the corner and I realize I'm alone.

Like really alone. Like I could do ANYTHING.

And suddenly, I'm literally jumping up and down and squealing. Right there in the driveway. I take three flying leaps into the house while squeaking, "Alone! Alone! Alone!"

But once in my living room, I just turn in circles. "I should read!" I think, grabbing my book. "No! Wash the lunch dishes first! No! Nap! Write! Clean! Call your sister!"

There are too many options. I want to do everything. I want to do nothing. I call Jay and the boys instead.

"Where are you?"

"At the SA on 37th…."

"Tell the boys I love them."

"I will."

"Be careful."

"I am."

"Do they miss me?"

"I'm sure they do."

"Call me from the road…."

Ultimately, I have a calm and productive weekend. I go to Bunco. I meet a friend in Minneapolis. I do no fewer than 10 loads of laundry. I sleep in — on sheets fresh off the backyard clothesline.

When I get the call a couple days later that my boys are in Pine Island — almost home! — I feel a mix of anticipation and panic. Sixteen minutes left!

My gut instinct says a sweet-tooth free-for-all is the only acceptable way to end the weekend. I ravenously pop a leftover May Day Tootsie Roll into my mouth while simultaneously opening the Neapolitan ice cream, which I eat straight from the carton. I wipe the chocolate from my lips. I compose myself. I take a final look at my spotless kitchen. (Goodbye, sweet, clean kitchen. I'll see you again next year…)

And then I'm there — just where they left me — waving and blowing kisses in the driveway as they pull back in.

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