Day 67 of the Nowhere To Be Project marked Mother’s Day. I spent it with one of my children, my husband, my brother-in-law along with his daughter, and my 87 year old mother-in-law. We enjoyed a lovely lunch and hours of conversation focused on days gone by. My mother-in-law has lived an amazing life filled with love, travel, adventure and loss. We love hearing the stories of her life and learn something new about her each time we visit. As we were leaving, she teared up as she thanked us for her best Mother’s Day yet. Her joy was not the result of a gift. It didn’t come from the meal either. It blossomed from the rare time of togetherness that we shared as a family. As a mother myself, I knew exactly what she was feeling. I always tell my kids that I do not need or want presents from them. I just want to be with them. I love nothing more than to see their perfect faces, hear their stories and hug them with the fierceness that only other mothers seem to find normal. I know that I could never possibly get my fill of them and certainly won’t stop trying. Happy Mother’s Day!
Day 65 of the Nowhere To Be Project was spent wholly on Disney grounds. I was born and raised in Central Florida, so Walt Disney World has been a staple for my entire existence. I was born the very year the Magic Kingdom opened and cannot even begin to count my visits over the years. As a child, I loved the wonder of a Disney day. As a parent though, Disney truly came alive. It was so magical to watch my kids light up at the sight of their favorite characters. I liked Lady and the Tramp as a kid. I even had a Lady stuffed pooch that accompanied me to bed most nights. It was different with my children though because the influence of Disney became so pervasive for kids of the 90s (much more that the Sunday evening Wonderful World of Walt Disney programming we had in the 1970s). My daughter had a full wardrobe of Disney princess gowns, tiara and slippers that encompassed her daily wardrobe. My son’s toys were 70% Disney-centric (think Buzz Lightyear and Woody, Aladar, Mighty Jo Young, Simba and on and on). It was ALL Disney ALL THE TIME.
Today, my husband and I visited Epcot. As we monorailed over to the park, I caught a glimpse of the face of a little boy who was sitting on his mother’s lap. His wide eyes were fixed on the window beside their seat, filled with views of the vast and rolling landscape of Disney. He was listening intently to the conductor who briskly announced the upcoming stops, making sure not to miss a thing. He was adorned with Disney gear…hat, shirt, action figure, sneakers. He was obviously over the moon to be in this place. As I watched him, I secretly hoped that his experience would far exceed the expectations he had amassed for it. More than that though, I hoped that his mother’s heart would forever warm at the memory of her delighted baby in the “happiest place on Earth”. I know mine does.
Day 14 of the Nowhere To Be Project was spent helping my daughter look for an apartment. This is a discouraging process because she’s searching in one of the highest rent districts in the country. Needless to say, everything seems out of reach for her meager budget. She and her boyfriend think that moving in together is the solution as they’d be able to split the exorbitant fee in half. In my mind, this would be a mistake of epic proportions.
My first apartment was similar to those she’s been considering. It was small, a bit run down and was not really situated in the best part of town. Despite being informed of these issues by my parents, I couldn’t have cared less. I was so thrilled to have my own space that I didn’t see any of the flaws. I drenched that space all in pink, my signature color, and filled it with all of my favorite books. Within those walls I taught myself how to cook, clean, study and sew a button. I learned how to plunge a toilet and replace an air-conditioning filter as well, certainly basic life skills. Above all that though, I discovered myself apart from anyone else and I want that for my daughter.
My resistance to my daughter’s desire to live with her boyfriend is not based on the antiquated standards you might expect. It isn’t about sex or marriage or money. I want her to experience the joy of solitude. When she was little, she used to build a wall to keep her baby brother out of her room. He’d scream and cry, but I allowed the wall because I knew that she needed her own space to grow and establish her place in the world. The issue of cohabitation is similar in my mind. I want her to learn, as I did, that she is capable of caring for herself and managing anything on her own. The gift of privacy is one that fades fast as we mature and blend our lives with others, so I hope she’ll give it a chance in her own space for now. I’ll even forgive her if she doesn’t coat it in shades of bubble gum and strawberry pop.