There are very few benefits from living on the opposite coast from your mother, at least if you have the kind of mom that I do. No chicken soup when I’m sick, no spontaneous babysitting, no little trips to the mall or the movies or a show.
One of the benefits, though, is that the 3-hour time change means that she is almost always home when I’m driving between work and daycare, and so I can count on 23 to 27 minutes to check up almost daily, and certainly whenever I feel like it.
It is my routine to dial her number as soon as I get in the car, so that her voice pipes into my bluetooth just as I’m about to back out. This means that our conversation starts in one of two ways:
“What’s that SOUND? I can hardly hear you!”
“It’s the car mom. I’m backing up.”
“Oh! It’s SO LOUD!”
2) “HELLO? HELLO! HELLO?”
“Hold on! Hold on!” (Fumbling to get bluetooth properly activated) “Ah! There you are!”
“Well, of course I’m here. There I am. Where else would I be?”
I have worked in this job, with this commute, in this car, for nearly three years. That means we’ve had this conversation, conservatively, at least 400 times. On good days, I roll my eyes and think, “Oh, mom” and mentally file it away for a late night hashtag one of these days, one of those cute little “My Mom’s So Bad At Technology” stories. A funny little story to ease out of the tension of the day.
But on bad, it’s the most irritating irritant to ever irritate anyone, in the way that only great moms can be. I can practically feel myself transform in those moments into my teenage self, all frizzy hair and indignation at the world’s refusal to get me. The start to our conversation will be clipped as I hold back and judge and make her do all the work. I tell myself she’s just, like, the dumbest, and that I can’t believe I’m forced to suffer such foolishness.
And you know what? Pretty soon, we’re back to normal, talking about my sister and her chickens, or my kids and their attitudes, or her dogs and their injuries. And before long, the sludge of the day is forgotten, and a pearl has built itself around that little irritant, shining and precious and treasured.