Yesterday I spent a few hours in the southern Indiana town where I grew up. I came alone to do some thinking and some remembering. Some things you just need to get out of your system.
As I pulled into town, every intersection had a landmark I recognized but a street name I didn’t. Even though the town is a fraction of the size of the town where I now live, I couldn’t navigate the roads without my phone for directions.
It was a little maddening, recognizing that stone house on the corner and that water tower over there, but now knowing exactly how to get to the library. But these were the sort of things I expected. We moved away from here before I could drive so I never learned my way around. What I didn’t expect was at every turn, at every familiarity, I thought of my mom.
It wasn’t a particular memory, like oh there’s where she taught me to finger paint! or that’s where we went out to that fancy restaurant and laughed about all the funny things!
Maybe memory montages happen that way in the movies, but I didn’t have many specific memories of anything as I drove to our old house, to the parking lot of the grocery store, to the elementary school where I learned to read. Instead, it was more like a blanket of memory, singular. It was simply a familiar cloud of an old life brought near but not quite.
I kept picturing Mom, younger than I am now, just being our mom. I kept imagining, everywhere I was, that Mom was close by and I needed to go on home to her. Her presence was a deeply safe place for me as a girl, something I’m not sure I realized until this very day. And it’s not because she mothered us like some kind of super-hero. She didn’t. But she was there, she was with us, she loved us, and I knew it.
Wandering through these familiar streets reminded me of what it means to mother well. Now that I have three of my own, I realize fancy is great, but it’s probably not what they’ll remember.
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Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. Thanks for loving us well.