A busy mama still needs her own mama

May 1, 2011 

My cell phone buzzed in the middle of the night.

I figured it was one of my rowdy friends in need of a ride home after too many rounds of beer at the local tavern. Or a friend who works graveyard and sometimes texts jokes and chain emails when the rest of the world is sleeping.

Instead, it was a text from my sister. The words were something like: “At the hospital with mom. They will probably admit her. I’ll send more details when we know what’s going on.”

My heart sank. I wasn’t ready for that kind of message.

The truth is I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready for one of those messages. I put them right up there with life insurance policies, last will and testaments, and the thought that someday my children will probably grow up and want to move away from home. In the TV game show “Jeopardy,” all of those topics would fall under the category “Things I don’t want to think about – ever.”

I know people who go weeks, sometimes months, without talking to their mothers.

On one hand, I respect and am intrigued with the whole, “Well, she raised me to be independent” reasoning behind that type of relationship. But personally, I think it also sounds like a form of torture. I’m the baby of the family, and I’m not too proud to admit that I’ve basically always needed my mama.

And when I became a parent, I realized I need her more than ever. I honestly can’t imagine going through the week without checking in several times to talk about cooking, “American Idol,” celebrity gossip, work, kids, family and everything in between.

She’s my constant cheerleader in my quest to cook the perfect pot roast, like hers, which hasn’t happened yet. She’s an honest critic, and will tell me when I’m acting like a control freak, taking on too many projects, or need my eyebrows waxed.

Oh and she’s well connected with the town grapevine, so when I need some dirt – er, I mean, background information – she’s a great source. She was able to find out why my kids’ school was locked down about an hour before that information was announced to the media. (And let me just say, her version was far more salacious than the one relayed by school officials.)

Mom checks on me on a regular basis, too. If it’s snowing, I can count on phone calls to see if I’m going to work, if I made it to work and if I made it home OK.

If it gets above 80 degrees (considered a heat wave around here), she tells me to load up the kids and come to her house because her air conditioner works better than the one in my kitchen.

And if I’m sick, she’s at my door with her delicious homemade chicken and dumplings. OK, she’s only delivered soup a few times, but man, it really helped me feel better. Come to think about it, I feel like I’m coming down with the sniffles – I’d better let her know. Hey, don’t judge me until you’ve tried the fluffy, biscuit-like dumplings cooked with real chicken and carrots in thick broth. Yum.

We’re on the phone so often, my 4-year-old son answers our land line with the words “Hello, Grandma.” And yes, it’s usually her voice on the other end. She asks him about his day, and patiently listens to him talk about everything that’s going through his mind at the time.

She always says if she knew how fun being a grandma was, she would have done that first. My kids, and my sister’s kids, are her world.

So, back to the scary stuff: Mom ended up spending a few days in the hospital, and there were a few intense moments.

At one point the doctor asked her what steps they should take, in the event that her heart stopped. Her response: “Well, I have a family and young grandchildren and a job that needs me. You have to save me.”

I think that fighting spirit helped her get out of the hospital earlier than expected.

And it also affirmed the notion that you’re never too old to need your mama.

Lisa Pemberton covers education for The Olympian. She’s also one busy mama with three children ages 4, 6 and 10. Reach her at 360-754-5433 or lpemberton@theolympian.com.

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