Monday, August 6, 2012

Lunacy, Love, and Logic

When my girls were little I don't think I gave a lot of thought to what parenting a young adult would look like. I am pretty sure though, I figured by the time my daughters hit their 20s they would not be keeping me up at night, especially living many states away.

Note to moms of littles-they will always find a way to keep you up at night.
Oh and also, worry is the enemy. You need to know that.

Daughter1 was in a wedding in Michigan this past weekend so she flew out on Thursday and then back to DC last night. It was storming up and down the east coast, but I tried not to think about her up in the air while the wind whipped and lightning lit up the sky.

She had to make connections in Detroit both ways, but on the way out Thursday she was meeting up with two other bridesmaids flying in from Alabama. They would all three then get the same connection for the second leg of the journey further north. Daughter1 arrived in Detroit in plenty of time to make the 2nd flight which was leaving at 1:50 PM.

At 1:25 she phoned me to say the flight was boarding and her two friends were not at the gate. The girls were sharing a rental car at their final destination which was an hour's drive from the airport so she wasn't sure what to do. She was feeling anxious and needed me to feel anxious too.

Actually she needed me to be the voice of calm and do my worrying in private which is what I did. Mostly I pray but the edges sometimes fray with worry. Worry is part of my DNA and occasionally likes to rear its ugly head when it comes to daughters out of reach. This was one such weekend.

Young adult children living far from home call and tell you their car won't start as they are leaving for work. Or they can't locate their Social Security card and need it right this very minute. You are on the receiving end of life's everyday frustrations, but are just far enough away not to be of any practical help. You learn to live with this but sometimes you wish you could hop in your car and come to the physical rescue. You settle for being the safe place to land.

I told Daughter1 to just get on the plane and sort out the next bit once she reached her final destination. That's what moms do. We listen to our children's cares and absorb them into our own bloodstream. They feel lighter and the knowledge of that makes me feel lighter too. And heavier, but mostly lighter. At 1:44 I got a text saying, 'They made it!' They had six whole minutes to spare which in the world of 20-somethings is the equivalent of three days.

Daughter2 has been in grad school pretty much the entire summer and in her spare time is gainfully employed in a lovely shop and also babysitting from time to time. She was supposed to go out with friends who were in from out of town Saturday evening, but she texted me after she got off work and said she wasn't going because she wasn't feeling good.

Not feeling good?

Do you have a fever?
Stomach ache?
Sore throat?
Are you sad?
Does your mother drive you crazy when she peppers you with questions?

She said she was just feeling eh. Eh? What is eh?
I'm over 500 miles away and will be needing the definition of eh please.
She texts me back a smiley face and says she's just tired and going to bed and will call me on Sunday. Something niggles.

Sunday comes. No phone call. Minutes pass, then hours, and at some point I know she's at work. At least I think she's at work. Maybe she's all alone, sick as a dog, laying on the bathroom floor in her apartment. How will I know?

Sometimes this is what the inside of a mother-brain looks like.
A mangled jangled criss-crossed mess of logic, love, and lunacy.

I text.
Thank you Alexander Graham Bell, Steve Jobs, and Matti Makonnen.

Did you know Mati Makonnen, an engineer from Finland, is credited with inventing text messaging?

If you have young adult children you can make a regular old phone call anytime and listen to the echo of your own head, or you can text and get a near instantaneous response. Daughter2's phone is never out of reach and no matter how ridiculous my question she always answers.

Except for yesterday.
No reply.
I have a talk with myself and tell myself I'm being silly.
She's at work. She'll call later.

And of course she does, because she wasn't lying on the cold hard bathroom floor, but was instead selling beautiful clothing to customers at her job. When she calls however, we're in the middle of an insane electrical storm and because worry has spread like a virus now I tell her I'll call back when the danger of electrocution has passed.

And I do, but she's getting ready to meet a friend for dinner. She's still not feeling 100% so I tell her to text me when she gets home and she assures me she will.

Except she doesn't.

My mother radar was just pinging off the charts all weekend. There was no good or logical reason but if you're a mother you know sometimes radar malfunctions. Worry gets into your wiring and short circuits your brain.

I head up to bed around 11 and send an innocent text asking if she's home. No reply so I wait. I read for a while and check my phone but still, nothing, nada, zilch. At 12:30 I send another text. I wake up during the night and look at my phone's blank screen. I get up in the morning and see the same.

The mind of a mother is oh so tricky sometimes. I resist calling her because I know she will think I am nuts. Because in this instance I am.

Instead I look around for my sensible self and go read my Bible. I start with the verse that says take every thought captive and move on to the verses about not worrying. I feel better. I blast some praise music.

I know daughter2 is babysitting for a 12-week old this morning which is a whole 'nother thing but that worry must be set aside so I can focus all my anxiety on my immediate worry.

Did she ever come home last night?

Apparently the cage door swung open and some of those captive thoughts flew free. I manage to reel 'em back in with a little help from Paul.

Did she come home last night? Yeah. She did. Of course she did. At 9 pm. She was tired and went to bed. I know this because after another trip to my sunroom which is my favorite space to be still and know that He is God I get a grip on my thoughts.

Ping. A text... 'Just saw your text...I came home and went straight to bed. Will call you after babysitting.'

She comes home every night. She is sweetness personified, making straight A's in grad school and holding down two part time jobs. Last week, between work and exams, she spontaneously made a lasagna from scratch and delivered it to my sister after my brother in law was hospitalized. She takes care of 12 week old babies and multiple toddlers and I don't need to worry because she holds them close and talks and smiles and coos at them. She knows CPR and The Wheels on the Bus and how to be silly. She pays her bills on time and gets herself to work and school and home again, where she remembers to latch the deadbolt without any help from me whatsoever.

There's a little saying I saw on Pinterest that said, 'How come when I call my parents and they don't answer it's no big deal but when they call me and I don't answer it's WW3?'

Because we're parents, that's why.

My girls and I are close. I speak to one or both of them pretty much every day. In spite of how this post reads, I'm not a mom who calls her kids 10 times a day or even every day. I am always happy to talk but I leave the calling up to them. They have busy lives and I prefer they call when its convenient for them to talk as opposed to me calling and them feeling like they have to talk. Every now and then something flies onto my radar. I don't ignore my mother sense because quite often it's legitimate. Issues need to be addressed and prayed over and released. Other times though, it's my old enemy worry. It might begin with something small, but worry is like rain to a dry garden. It makes things grow and that's as true in mothering as it is in all areas of our lives.

Sometimes I think about what I was like at ages 24 and almost 22. I remember how capable I felt. How confident I was in whatever I wanted to try. How little thought I gave to what my mother must have felt having me far from home, very independent, and nary a cell phone in site.

Did she look at me sometimes and feel astonished to see a fully grown adult standing where a knee- socked little girl stood just a blink or two before? Would she say the worry sometimes fell like rain?

When my grown up daughters call to tell me they have a fever, car trouble, or a broken heart they are suddenly the dancing, pony-tailed girls of yesteryear.

In spite of my best intentions, sometimes the worry still falls like rain.
In those moments I remind myself gardens need sunshine and I'd best go find some.


  1. I love this post. So very you. You left out the part where you then text daughter1 when daughter2 forgets to reply to see if they've talked that day. Daughter1 then texts her sister and tells her "mom's worried because she hasn't heard from you, better check in."

    1. Because Daughters1 & 2 are so close, your worries can oftentimes be allayed by a simple text. I love this. I find myself talking to one or the other of my daughters to see what the other is thinking or feeling.

  2. Hi Joyce, I've been a reader for a while but this is my first comment. My son is 22 and my daughter is 19. Everything you said - DITTO!!!!!!

    1. I meant to reply earlier...thanks for visiting and your comment.

  3. I know how you feel. We actually called the campus police when our daughter didn't send a text saying she made it back to school one day. Let's just say we overreacted just a wee bit.

  4. Oh boy, I could write a post in the comments... ha

    Did I ever tell you about the time I ended up calling Miss K's dorm and then had her RA acutally wake up the 3rd roomie to get #2 roomies phone number so I could text her to find out why she (they)were not back from the big (bad) city at 2 in the am! When the last train left the city at 11:00 pm. ugh. I was just sure if I didn't the authoritys will have lost hours of precious time to find her after she'd been abducted.

    It was her fault, really. She was the one who told me she was going in the first place and would let me know when she got back on campus and absolutely they were coming back that night. {sigh}

    I suppose she was smart in telling me AFTER the sky diving episode. psh.

    I can't wait for them to have their own. Just sayin'

  5. It doesn't get much better as they get older and have kids of their own....and then you have grandkids to worry about too. Aargh!

  6. This is NOT good news Joyce but at least now I have been warned!

  7. Our kids are 36 & almost 40! DITTO! Sorry.

  8. Oh my! you are SO right about all of it! It absolutely drives me crazy when the boys don't text back right away.

  9. Jeanie beat me to the punch ... I was just going to say that there's still so much worrying to do when they move out, marry, have their own kids ... and are getting dangerously close to the big 4-0. ;-)

  10. Three adult children here...yes, I still worry and fret on occasion. Just because they have 21 candles on their birthday cake doesn't mean they are totally grown, does it? Maybe it does. LOL

  11. Honestly, I think something was in the air this weekend. Maybe I didn't just have PMS. Sorry about the worries. I am impressed at your patience. I think I would have booked flights to my babies. :D

  12. I don't have any kids, but reading your post gave me a pretty clear understanding of what parents go through, not fun at all. Glad everybody is safe and sane, and yes it is not easy to hold every thought captive....:)

  13. I loved your thoughts here! I can relate as well. Our son goes to school in downtown Chicago and is all OVER that city on trains and buses and walking. I can get myself just as worked up when the girls are late coming home.
    A mother's mind can conjure up all sorts of worrisome things!

  14. I think I am going to be a worrier when my kids are older. Just reading this stressed me out! :)

  15. Your post--and especially the conclusion--is so very true! I've found myself continually shocked the last 4-5 years to find that parenting adults is sometimes harder than parenting children! Especially when they roll their eyes at my worry one day, and then call the next with worry of their own. : )

  16. i think every mother can identify with this wonderful heartfelt post----it is the best thing we do and the hardest<3

  17. My MIL always told me "when your children are small, they will step on your toes, when they are grown, they will step on your heart." I've found that bit of wisdom to be very true. Another bit of wisdom she shared, "They'll always be your children, no matter how old they are..." Also, very true.
    Nice post, by the way!

  18. Oh my gosh, it's like you're inside my head! I talk to my kids (21 and 20) nearly every day and I've been through so many days just like you described. Hope you don't mind, I shared a link to this post on Twitter. I know a lot of moms who will relate! :)

  19. Great post Joyce! I felt every part of this is my soul and have/still lived/live these kind of moment. My relationship with my children is more than I could have ever imagines. I am so glad you have this with your girls, it's the best part of life however as you know we as parents never stop worrying.

  20. Nothing prepares you for your chicks to leave the nest... I am such a bundle of joy at the girls relatively smooth entry into adulthood, but I miss being a hands on day to day mom with every fiber of my being... I think motherhood is the only job that when done right you will work your self right out of it... I too try to let Katy call me but I must admit I am very, very glad that (for now anyways) she is only 15 minutes away and pops in every couple days!

  21. Girls or boys you worry. The boys just tease me and I let them as there is nothing I can do about it. Mom's worry and that's that!

    Oldest son was studding abroad in Ireland and coming home in December. Due to the blizzard like conditions in New York his flight was canceled. He had no way to get home, no dorm to go back to, and was left alone for 2 more days. Talk about worrying. He made it home before Christmas and handled the situation like an adult.