And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.

You know, sometimes, Moments are so fast and breath-taking, they require next to no build-up. This week was like that.

A side effect of being on a plane is that you are thought-trapped. You can’t do anything, really, in such a limited space, to distract yourself from your thoughts. Sure, you can sleep, though I find that dreams can be crazy on a plane, maybe fed by all the dips and sounds. Waking up yelling in your bedroom is embarrassing enough if you have a partner, but waking up yelling in a crowded airplane is a whole different experience. You can also read, but I find that the airplane seems to take my thoughts and zing them along a flight pattern of their own, no matter how good the book is that I’m holding.

So during the flight home from Louisiana, I found myself thinking a lot of time gone by. Mostly, of course, I focused on my experiences as a parent, which are ever evolving. With Olivia, my final child, turning 21 years old, I’m officially trying to figure out what it means to parent adults. I can no longer point my finger at their rooms and direct them that way. For three out of four kids, their rooms don’t exist in my house anymore. I can’t make appointments for them that they don’t want anymore, like for the doctor or dentist or eye doctor. In Livvy’s case, I can’t even talk to her teachers about her anymore. It’s like I was suddenly fired from being her advocate, which was until now a Livvy-lifetime position.

It’s an odd place to be. I am still their mother. I am still concerned about them and protective of them. I still help wherever I can, and watch quietly (which is sometimes a struggle) when I can’t. I still love all four wholeheartedly, with a love that matches no other in my life and that is tantamount in importance.

One of my favorite moments from my trip to see my daughter in Louisiana was when I said, “Remember when…” and saw her face light up in a soft smile that reflected my own. She remembered. Our history is shared. At least in her memory, “Mama” is alive and well.

So the thoughts scrolled on the plane as I flew from Lafayette, Louisiana, to Atlanta, Georgia, and then Atlanta to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. My flight was early morning and there were several hiccups, which meant I was exhausted and frayed upon landing. My oldest child, Christopher, picked me up at the airport, his daughter, my granddaughter, Maya Mae, in tow.

When we got in the car, I looked over my shoulder and smiled at Maya Mae. She beamed back, her face so like my son’s when he was that age. As my oldest, he is the only one of my children who had me all to himself for two years and two months, before his little brother came along. We headed out to the freeway, and I turned to him and asked:

“Christopher, I was a good mother, wasn’t I?”

A question out of the blue. A question from left field. A question he wasn’t prepared for, hadn’t thought through, hadn’t pondered. My oldest son is famous for answers like, “Well, I’m 89% sure that…”

But there was no hesitation or dead air.

“YES!” he said. His heart in three capital letters.

And then my heart was full. That was all I needed to know.

I sat back to keep on learning.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

And then there were four. Olivia was born when I was 40. Katie was 13, Andy 14, and Christopher 16.
All the kids just a few years later.
Best shot I could get of a photo of all of us that hangs in my room. I didn’t want to take it out of the frame to scan it.
Christopher and Maya in the car!

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