Tuesday, June 02, 2015

motherhood and time travel

For the past few weeks I've been shopping thrift stores and keeping my eyes open for things my son might need. A rising junior in college, he's officially moved into his first apartment. I spotted a set of Denby dinnerware at the local Habitat store, thought of buying it outright, then pulled back and decided to check in with him before I made the purchase. Days passed, the set remained, and finally I got photos and messaged him, then ran an errand across town while waiting to hear back.

Yes, he texted, get the set. So I headed back to Habitat, not 20 minutes later, and found it had just been purchased and taken away!

At week's end I made another thrift store run. A truckload of bedroom furniture was going his way on Saturday so I had one last day to shop. He had asked me previously to find a blender and I'd broken the news to him that I had never seen a blender in all my years of thrift-store perusing. On Friday I walked into the PTA thrift store and as I walked down the home aisle, spotted not only a blender, but a Waring blender, that was definitely old but looked like it had never been used. It was $4. and when I plugged it in, it worked!

My 25-year old Waring blender wasn't a thrift store find, but it was a steal. I was living in Hollywood and working as the in-house proofreader for a Beverly Hills court reporting firm when I got a call (not on my cell phone because there was no such thing at that time!) from my best friend. Someone was at William-Sonoma and there was a crazy sale on Waring blenders. They had over-ordered and were clearing them out. I had a choice of colors or classic chrome. I chose the chrome. We made every kind of frozen cocktail imaginable over the next month or two and that blender is still used on a weekly basis in my kitchen. 

I messaged my son that I had found a blender and several very nice pieces of cookware and headed over to Habitat. 

There was a lovely set of Franciscan dinnerware marked to half-price. I called son, told him to watch for photos, and he quickly approved the purchase. It took two boxes and a lot of paper to hold all those dishes, bowls, cups, and extras!

I picked up more cookware and called it a day.

All my excitement faded on Saturday morning as I helped my husband load the truck. The dresser in my son's room was going, and as I removed the drawers I burst into tears. This was the same dresser I had found in a thrift store the year he was born, as I was setting up the nursery. It was the dresser I stood in front of 20 years ago and folded onesies and other tiny pieces of clothing into the same drawers. It seemed unimaginable that the dresser was going now to a 20-year old's first apartment.

Surely, I thought, this is some kind of Dr. Who episode, and I am in a parallel universe seeing the future.  The dresser must be still in that nursery, filled with onesies and cloth diapers. 

Motherhood is its own form of time travel. We go forward and back in our minds on a dailly basis, remembering our own childhood memories, those with our children, through the years forward and back again. It can be bittersweet and sometimes sad, but it's also a gift that brings joy.

If we're women who love horses we remember our first rides, the names of the ponies, the names of the horses, not only for ourselves but for our children as well. There is a place somewhere, a magical barn, where all those equines live, and if you're like me you walk down that barn aisle from time to time and visit.

I have a daughter who is heading off to college this fall and yesterday while I was out at the barn checking an antsy QH for ticks in the nether regions, with her help, I thought wildly, There is no way I can manage all this without her. My mind spun forward, trying to fathom being here without either of them, son and daughter, and then of course my mind had nowhere else to go but backward, to the time when I was a single woman who didn't yet have children. But there were no horses then either, so I had to travel all the way back to my own girlhood to the summers when I was dropped off at the boarding barn to spend the day taking care of my horse, and riding, and helping out with the other horses. 

More time travel. I could spend entire days traveling the years back and forward and back again.

I think sometimes we focus too much on child development. It's fascinating, I studied it in great detail during my undergraduate and graduate years in college. Somehow we imagine that we grow up and all that development stops and we're fully-formed adults going about our days with nothing to learn. Just things to do.

Clearly as mothers we live it all again, watching and nurturing children through their own early years, then as they launch forth, we have to learn how to let them go, what to do with our own thoughts and feelings, our older selves.

The time travel is part of that. I'm thinking of it as my PhD, this wild cosmic ride through time. 

And as Joni Mitchell sings it, And the seasons, they go round and round, and the painted ponies go up and down...


Calm, Forward, Straight said...

It was traditional during graduation ceremony at the (all girl prep / finishing / boarding) high school I attended way back when, to sing the Circle Game while seniors passed over a glorious daisy chain to the juniors. I imagine Joni Mitchell will continue to illuminate transitions and passages for years to come.

Thanks for the memories and (((hugs))) to you billie!

billie said...

Thank you!!

Love that ritual for those graduating and those moving up!

Grey Horse Matters said...

I don't have any words of wisdom you've said it all beautifully. The circle of life goes round and round. Even though the children are moving on with their lives they will always come home. One day you will be folding onesies again and watching your grandchildren grow.

billie said...

Thank you, Arlene, for the lovely image of folding onesies for grandchildren!

Matthew said...

It all happened so quickly.

billie said...

I am a many worlds interpretation kind of mom. :) In the multiverse I can find them over and over again at any age!