I drove to Wickenburg, Arizona last weekend with a dual mission: to pick up a horse for a gal in Elko, and visit my mom. I hadn’t seen my mom in nearly two years.
After I checked into the motel and while I waited for Mom to arrive, I fixed my hair and touched up my makeup. I was first-date nervous for some reason. Mom and I talked regularly, but so much had happened in nealry two years! What should I talk about? Which stories had I told her over the phone, and which ones had a huge impact on my life but I hadn’t mentioned? Would she want to know my big-picture “this is what I think is the purpose of my life” thoughts, or would she ask if I’ve been eating my vegetables?
I brought a couple publications containing my articles to give her. Would she be proud of me? Last winter I was too broke to afford kerosene for the heater, and I ate oatmeal twice a day when I was between paychecks. Did she think, “That’s my tough, determined girl,” or did she think, “She had a Bachelor’s Degree at age 21 with zero student loans debt. Why can’t she get a real job?”
Mom didn’t tell me her judgment on my life during our visit. Her only comment directed at the state of myself came when we hugged a long good-bye. “You’re so little!” I exclaimed. “I was just about to say the same thing about you!” she replied. We laughed.
We slept in, hiked through the saguaro cactus, split entrees at dinner, ate fried ice cream and margarita key lime pie, checked out the Wickenburg museum, and played a fair amount of pool in a dive bar. My mama is a pool shark; Arnold Palmer on the table and pool cue in hand, she will take your money. Luckily for me, she just gave me a lot of useful advice.
In the afternoons we lounged on the motel beds and watched reruns of “Friends” and “King of Queens.” I was thinking how different our visits will be in several years, when I’m sleeping in the next room with a husband (preferably my own). When I wake up cold in the middle of the night, I won’t accidentally grab Mom’s sweatshirt in the dark and wake up smelling like her laundry detergent. It won’t be me and Mom road tripping at the same pace (“the family that pees together gets there faster”), she with her chai latte and me with my decaf afternoon coffee moseying through tourist trap shops in Prescott.
Or, maybe our relationship won’t be so different in a decade. I’m sure I’ll still be pestering her with questions: Did you get along with Grandpa Joe? How did you know you were pregnant with me? What was Yreka like when you were my age? Was I a good baby? Can you research my thyroid disease and tell me what I should eat to help my symptoms?
And I’ll still want to hear the same stories: How did you get kicked out of Iowa again? What was Southern California like when you were a kid? Tell me about playing pool at the Fish Hook when your parents owned it.
She’ll always be my mom. The original expert on me.