Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Mothering never ends

"You don’t want it to end because the day it does, you’re underground,” is more wisdom from my mechanic (and former neighbor).

I was explaining why I was making the executive decision to go ahead and have some work done on my son's car (including a new starter) now rather than “roll the dice” and wait a year or two. 

My son, aged 20, just embarked on his trip back to college, 1200 miles away, with his youngest brother.

My older two made the trip together last year and shared the driving. This year, my youngest will make the trip to keep his brother company.

Because of the travel restrictions and COVID testing required both for my oldest to go to school and for anyone traveling back to our home state, things are complicated. My middle son can’t afford the time away or a possible two-week quarantine upon his return. He could get a COVID test, but by time it takes schedule it and then get the results, could be almost as long as the quarantine.

My mechanic said that the starter might last a year, but then again, “you wouldn’t want it to give out when they’re halfway to Florida.”

And that was when all the mothering kicked in and I said, “I know he’s 20, but I’m still his mom and I can’t help but worry with the pandemic at all…”

I’m not only worried about my son making the drive (his original plan was to drive straight through, but now he’s got a stop planned), but I’m also worried about him living off campus in an apartment with two grad students. (Will he get his housing grant back when he returns to campus next year, which is a requirement of his school, which was only relaxed this year because of the pandemic?). I worry that COVID-19 will continue to run rampant in Florida. (What if he gets sick?) I worry that his school will shut down again, which also means he’ll be out of a job since he works on campus. (I already worry enough about financial matters with two kids in college.)

Then I also worry about my youngest, a rising sophomore, hanging around with much older people for a week. (I’m not so worried about him flying back since I was able to secure a direct flight.) Then he’ll have to either quarantine or get a COVID test, which doesn’t seem to be that easy or affordable. If I am not careful, my worrying snowballs until I feel like I am buried under an avalanche of it. I have never worried so much in my life or had so much anxiety to the point of breathing difficulties. My fitness tracker notifies me frequently that I am stressed and asks, “Breathe with me?”

…I happen to know that my mechanic’s mom is still very much involved with his day-to-day life: she is responsible for the décor in the front office of his shop. She has a candy dish and seasonal decorations and arranges the magazines artfully in the waiting area. She does his bookkeeping.

I pointed this out to him. “I guess you’re right, given how involved your mom is with everything here…”

He said, “Yep, that’s how I know!”

Mothering apparently doesn’t end just because your kids have grown up.

I imagine I will be mothering my kids in some way until the day I die, and maybe even beyond. Much of my mother’s wisdom and guidance still guides me, though she passed away more than a decade ago.

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