When Nick was born, I remember reading in one of those baby instruction manuals that kids grow more quickly than we’re ready for, leading to mothers who tend to “baby” their children far longer than necessary. For instance, we might still hold the spoon when the baby is ready to hold it himself. Or we might be feeding jarred food when she’s ready for cut up chicken nuggets.
This isn’t all about fine motor skills, though. It’s hard for a parent to accept their “baby” is growing up — for good or for bad.
When I was sixteen, carrying a newly printed license, I had my own car. It was a sweet 1989 Honda Accord. With a sun roof! Air conditioning! Four wheels and an accelerator!
I was a good driver. Mom taught me. But being a good driver meant I got sent on errands. Once mom asked me to mail a bill for her while I was on my way somewhere.
I stuck that bill in the visor of the car, and forgot about it. Then, a few weeks later, I opened the sun roof on I-83, and the bill went flying out of the car.
I didn’t tell my mother until she asked me whatever happened to that bill, since she was getting late notices.
I was sixteen. I’m 32 now. She still brings up this incident. A few months ago, she had her hip replaced, and I was spending a lot of time taking care of her. She wrote out her bills, and I offered to take them in to work with me and mail them for her.
She said, “Are you sure? I don’t want you to lose them again.”
I work a full time job managing the practice of four financial advisors, along with having a federal and state license to sell securities. I have a son of my own. A husband. A house, with the accompanying mortgage. The days of blasting music and letting bills fly out the sun roof are gone.
But mom doesn’t forget. Sixteen years later, and I’ll never get over that one.
This past weekend, I was really sick. Down for the count. My husband got sick of listening to me whine*, and said, “Why don’t you have your mom take you to one of those urgent care centers.”
I personally think he didn’t want to have to take me to the ER later in the week, when my sickness finally caught up to me. Killjoy.
So mom took me to Righttime Medical Care, and while we were waiting for the doctor, mom said, “I’m going to go fill up the car with gas, and I’ll be right back. Are you going to be okay?”
Of course I was going to be okay. I’m an adult. I was just feeling crappy enough that I didn’t want to be driving myself all over town, and Mike had to stay home with our toddler.
While Mom was gone, the doctor came in and ordered a strep test. If you haven’t had one of these, it’s really a simple test. They take a big Q-tip and swab the back of your throat. When I was a child, I had strep throat all the time, so I had strep tests regularly. Because I was a child, I hated them. Mom had to hold me down, until one kind pediatrician taught me to pant like a puppy while he was doing it.
So Mom came back to the doctor’s office while the doctor was still writing notes. I said, “She did a strep test. We’re waiting for results.”
Mom looked at me and said in this hushed voice, “And…how did you do with the strep test?”
I could tell she was imagining six-year-old Brigid, crying and refusing to open her mouth. I could tell she was aghast that she’d left me alone during my moment of need. Despite the fact that my adult self was sitting in front of her, she couldn’t reconcile that with the fact that I’m not a little girl anymore. Not her little girl anymore.
She was probably imagining orderlies pinning me down while the doctor swabbed my throat.
I assure you that wasn’t the case.
But in mommy’s world? Totally happened.
* I should emphasize that Mike was a huge help while I was sick. He’s a great husband and an incredible father, and I’m lucky to have him.