See you Later

Motherhood is grueling. Endless nights without sleep, followed by days of feeding, changes, cleaning and caring. The compensation can be tricky. A toothless smile or a giggle can make it all worthwhile. My mother called me to tell me about the need to care for her older brother. My uncle was born several years before my mother came along and there was a gap between her and her older siblings. She was raised differently since her parents were probably worn out by the time she came along. Since she was the baby of the family, each of them had depended on her to take care of them in various ways as they grew old before her. They cared for her as a baby, and she cared for them at the other end of life. Due to some health concerns, my uncle was going to have to move in with my mother. He was a childless widower with enough savings to go to a nursing home, but my mother thought it would be nicer for him to be at home. His house was put up for sale, many of his things were given away and he was ready to be moved. My mother’s attitude surprised me. She sounded as if she was looking forward to his coming. I can’t recall her acting as if she loved being a mother when I was young but maybe I just assumed she put up with us because it was her job. I told Steve that I was going to drive over to see my mother in case she needed any help.

When I arrived at my mother’s house, she was humming and cleaning. I couldn’t remember ever hearing her do that before. We sat down for coffee and she told me I looked tired. Now that was the mother I remembered. I still had lingering feelings about somehow letting her down in life. After we made up the spare bedroom, I sat down on the edge of the bed to catch my breath. My mother took another concerned look at me and she knew. I did not know what to say to her because I didn’t know how I felt about having another baby. She reminded me that she was a surprise baby and I got her point. I was trying to accept what happened. The weird part was that I didn’t feel pregnant.

We picked up my uncle and all had a delicious dinner together. My mother made my favorite childhood meal and my uncle was very grateful for her taking him in and said so repeatedly. Before I drove home, my mother and I had a talk about taking care of myself. I realized at that point that my mother may have enjoyed being a mom. She sure liked the idea of having her brother with her and she understood what was going on with me without my saying it. Maybe motherhood at the other end of life isn’t as grueling. I had much to think about and promised my mother that I would check in more often. She reminded me that we can’t always plan what would happen in life. Then she gave me some words to ponder. Mother told me that things were not as good as I wanted all the time, but they weren’t as bad as I imagined. I drove home in silence thinking about those words.

That night, my period started and the moment was bittersweet. No baby. just a chance to practice what I said I wanted to preach. I called my Mother in the morning and let her know so she wouldn’t worry about me. She had planned a day for my uncle – the barbershop for a shave and haircut. I couldn’t recall the last time that Steve went to Charles’ Barbershop for a shave. It was a mysterious practice to me with straight-edges, hot towels and tonic. I would never know how indulgent that must be. I mentioned the shave business to Steve that night. He thought that getting a shave at a barber shop was for old men on special occasions but did admit that it felt great to have someone actually shave your face that closely. I thought more about it later as I perched on the edge of the bathtub with a razor in my hand while shaving my own legs. I borrowed Steve’s shaving cream cup and brush and lathered up to see if I could shave more closely. It felt okay but I probably wouldn’t do it again; my time is precious and I need to shave a couple of times each week to keep the stubble under control. I wish someone would invent a shop that shaves legs for women. It could have little bathtubs that we could perch on while some devoted professional gallantly shaved away. I doubt it will ever happen, but a girl can dream.

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