I got home from work Wednesday night to suitcases open on the living room floor. My mom was walking around in a rush with her arms full of clothes. I wracked my brain trying to remember what this was about........New Orleans. She had told me weeks ago she was going to New Orleans with a friend during spring break.
"When are you leaving?" I asked.
"Tomorrow," she said. Tomorrow? How could that possibly be? Somehow she hadn't said a word about it all week, and I had forgotten. Bad daughter guilt flooded down.
"5:00. I'm driving my car to the airport."
I felt even more guilty because I was so relieved at this, since it absolved me of any responsibility for dropping her off or picking her up.
"When are you coming back?"
"Monday at 5:00."
Wow...How could I be such a jerk? How could I care so little not to remember this?
But then I think of my daily routine and it's not really surprising how little I know about what Mom is doing. I want to feel independent, and my mom makes me feel like a child just for being who she is. On weekdays I spend less than an hour a day with her, and even then we are usually watching some reality TV like American Idol. Easier to talk about American Idol than what's really going on in either of our lives.
We live in such different spheres -- I think my tales of breaking news bore her, and her stories about the perils of standardized testing and misbehaving kids are not so interesting to me. When we do talk, I'm ashamed to say I only half-listen to what she has to say, just mumbling a "Yeah," or "Mmm-hmm" every once in a while, then retreating to the Internet or to a book.
But I think this situation shows just how ridiculous it has gotten. There's independence and then there's being a selfish ass. Why can't my "independent life" include being an adult daughter who really cares about her parents? No shame in that. I love my mother more than anything. I need to force myself to listen. I think we all do.