Friday, May 8, 2015

An open letter to my daughter

Dear Daughter,

     I have visited every single place you’ve lived. It’s a mother-kind-of thing. Besides, you know my nature.

     Mothers and their adult children don’t get enough together time in person, especially if they are at a distance.
     Inquisitiveness is in my genes, and I want to keep close while you are far away living in your grown-up world.
      You might think there is a bit of superstition here, too, and if it is so, I don’t intend to jinx the good luck fortune.
     I want to soak in your “everyday” such as where you lay your head to rest and what's outside your front door, so I can tuck it away for the next time we talk. I need pictures in my head, and knowing the sum of your days away from your childhood home.
     That’s why those visits are so important to me.
      I don’t hint around that you haven’t shown your face in months. I consider myself cool in that respect, and I know you get it. There is no guilt trip handed out from mother to daughter. My own parents were very tolerant of me living 400 hundred plus miles away, and when an emergency happened, distance wasn’t an issue.
     Our get-togethers are perfectly wonderful, and crammed full of activities from morning until late night. Then we go our own ways with many memories. In the meantime, we rely on phone calls and texts.

     Glancing back at your life, a few of those dorm rooms were pretty sketchy I must admit now that the years have gone by. Once my husband advised me under no circumstances to open the refrigerator at a college apartment, and trust me, I chose not to do any dirty work, although I wondered if the germs or your roommates would be the first to get out of there alive. Apparently, nobody got sick, and the place passed inspection when you moved. You held up your rent deposit, and moved out of town.
     When I came to your graduate apartment at another campus, it was a time to hold your hand and give you moral support. You had been in a major auto accident and had miraculously gotten out relatively unscathed. I do remember a lot of cheap burrito dinners eaten on a sagging couch you had rescued from the last renter. By the time I flew away, you had regrouped your emotions nicely, and there was a big smile on your face.

     Your first apartment in Ft. Worth as a career woman was beautifully decorated on a tight budget. The stately house was in a tree-lined older neighborhood, and your rooms had lovely wooden floors and molding. Yes, I did check for dust balls in the corners, and congratulated you on your superb domestication.
      Perhaps, after me badgering while you were a teen, you really had “heard” the message. I had thought that “picking up after yourself” was not to be in your skill set ever.
     I barely put down an empty mug on your coffee table and you whisked it off to wash. Wow. That was a complete reversal of roles here. I didn’t dare put my feet up either for fear of a scolding.

     It was at twenty-two that I knew they you would stand on your own in all circumstances tough or challenging. You had matured into a woman with excellent qualities. Not that I didn’t feel that way throughout your life, but proof is in the pudding.
     Things accelerated into the fast lane when you moved to New York City. At first, you were blessed to have a close friend take you in, although the apartment was minimal at best, and location, location, ah, that was not so kind.
     My husband and I brought your posessions in a U-Haul and you and I hiked four fights of stairs with boxes while he stayed with the truck. Even still, while he was in the back handing down the cartons, someone tried to break into the cab.
     You warned me on my first visit to look only to the left on the street and head to the corner to the subway station purposefully holding my purse tightly. It was a bustling street by day, and at night we were snuggled into our hotel in another section of the city.
     Fortunately, that lasted a year and like all mothers, the worry-meter was working overtime. I knew your job kept you late and I hoped that you were careful, took taxis at night and didn’t get mugged.

     Better apartments in different sections of the city made for adventurous exploration into new neighborhoods. The international areas around the United Nations and 44th street near Broadway are two great spots for excellent food and entertainment. How fun to stand in Times Square at midnight feeling all the energy, and then walk two blocks to your apartment.
     For quite awhile now you have lived in a great area in Manhattan with your husband, and I have become knowledgeable about the best of the best local restaurants, stores and places in all directions from your front steps. You have your Chinese laundry next door, coffee shop and fire department down the street, and you know the people in each place quite well.
     I am positive that I am not the only mother thinking in this vein, and I have put in words what the rest of you are feeling about your daughters.  
     Happy Mother's Day all.