Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day Tripping

Friday, I decided to beat the traffic and drive to my mother's house to celebrate Mother's Day early. My plan was to make the hour and a half trip, go to restaurant row and get some Boston Market, and have dinner with her. It was all I could manage with the two babies and moving into our new place just five days before. So, five hours before time to leave the house, I start getting the three of us ready to go.

As I'm cleaning them, dressing them, combing their hair, feeding them before we leave, packing up the diaper bag, trying to make my own self presentable (I've got baby locs), checking to make sure they didn't poop in the diaper I just changed them into--it happens--a feeling comes upon me and goes straight to my head: What if this is the day? What if this is our last trip?

I think about death often. Those who know me can understand why. This day, I think about crashing on the highway. I bought this new (used) van. I feel more comfortable driving two babies in it than I did my little sedan. My car was too small and nearly ten years old. It needed work. It was starting to sound and feel rickety. The van is big and roomy, and feels more sturdy. I think the babies are more protected in it. Yet, I know that if today is the day, none of that matters.

It's no use trying to ignore these thought-feelings. I can't. I have to let them rage, go with them along whatever road they take, tough it out. In my sadness, I hug the babies, talk sweetly, sing, make them laugh. Give them toys to take in the car, kiss their cheeks. Stop fussing. Stop rushing. If we have an appointment in Samarra today, we can certainly take our time getting there.

I start to get weak. I think about staying home. Mother's Day is another overhyped holiday. I don't have to buy into it. Mama won't mind. I don't want to have to think about last Mother's Day. It's cloudy outside. There have been killer tornadoes in the country. I should stay in the house. Hunker down.

How much worse these thoughts would be if we were heading out to catch a plane somewhere. I hate flying. No, of course, flying is great--it's the crashing out of the sky, that's what I hate. I think, If you will ever be able to get on an airplane with these two babies, to travel with them and show them new places in the world, you'd better get your ass in the car and go see your mother for Mother's Day.

So I load the car. Load the babies into their car seats, feeling so sad for them. Beautiful little souls, surely God will not let anything happen to you. I start the car and drive onto the street, pull onto the freeway, thinking of Susan Smith. How could she let herself get that desperate? God, don't ever let me be that desperate because I'm a Mom Again. What a horrid way for those two little souls to die, two babies strapped in their car seats, sunk into the lake while their mother crawled out of the mud and concocted a story about a black man with a weapon.

The thoughts of death and untimely death and unjust death and my own death deepen and I feel dreadful, on edge, hypervigilent driving down the expressway, looking suspiciously at every moving vehicle. If this is it, if this is it... God, if this is it, let the babies be okay. But if I am not here, who will take care of them? God, don't let this be it.

Eventually, the sun comes out from the clouds. And the babies laugh. Sun says, "It's light outside, Mama." And Raine wiggles and kicks her legs and shouts "Aaaaaa!" It works like a fast-acting pain killer, and like a mild headache, the dreadful thought feelings starts to fade. I forget about death. I am left with the two of them and the radio and what turns out to be a lovely drive to my mother's house. And back. Safely. This time.

When you are parent to your grandchildren, you know you have potentially less time to raise them, to watch them grow and develop, than their young parents have. You do not expect to be around long for their children, for instance. My husband and I have sole custody of these two babies. We are their grandparent/parents. We are middle aged; they are 1 and 2. We are Baby Boomers raising Millennials. What a gap in time. I do not fear death. I just want to live-- to a hundred or more, so I can be here for them.

I have a plaque that reads: "The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time." Abraham Lincoln said that. Sometimes, it helps.

Hundreds of thousands of grandparent are raising their grandchildren. Some of you Second-Timers are on the Net. How do you handle these thoughts? Do you have them? Hello, is there anybody out there? (That's Pink Floyd, you non-Boomers.)

Alive so far, I am, gratefully, a

Mom Again

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