I’ve been awoken by all manner of things throughout my tenure as a mom:
-Children mauling (me or one another)
Yet nothing prepared me for the first words I heard out of my husbands mouth yesterday…
“What did you do to our children last night?” He asked, staring in disbelief at a group text on his cell phone.
“Nothing! Why? What? I’ve been right here sleeping!” I snapped, making a grab for his phone so I could see what the heck he was referring to.
He turned his body just out of my reach, “They’re pretty freaked out!” he continued, scrolling through the exchange.
I gave up trying to confiscate his phone and fumbled around the nightstand for mine.
Sure enough, he was right. There was indeed a frantic series of messages in our family group chat, whereby my children were searching high and low for THEIR VERY OWN MOTHER!
A Ginger Alert had been issued in the wee hours of the morning by a sibling.
As I scanned their conversation, my empathy grew. Been there, felt that. I could totally relate.
“Has anyone heard from Mom?” texted my 19 year old son. “She said she was on her way here over an hour ago and she never arrived. And, she’s not answering her cell!”
At this point his siblings helpfully recollected their most recent interactions with me. One offered up a slightly stale memory of a lecture I delivered hours earlier, while another vividly recalled a money transfer I made into their account somewhere between 8 and 9 pm.
They all remembered me fondly, but no one had seen or heard from me since around 10:30. Not since I texted my son that I was getting out of bed, changing out of my pajamas and meeting him an hour away at a bar in College Town.
I can explain.
It’s Mom’s weekend down at the university. Lots of fun mother/child events planned – I’ve been following it on Facebook with joyful anticipation since February.
I was completely stoked, until my son reminded me that he was in a stage show that had performances slated every few hours throughout the entire weekend. So naturally, I bought tickets to the matinee on Saturday and crumpled up my registration form for all the other fun events I would not be enjoying with my son-gone-performer.
Around 10:30 Friday night, I texted him to see how the evening’s performance went, only to find out he had changed his mind about attending the first event. He had strolled over to a bar and was the, “only boy there without a mom.”
How it pained me to think of my little boy at a bar orphaned and “momless!” (His word – hand to heart) Never mind that the previous night I was on the phone with him until midnight co-editeding an Economics paper he had due in the morning.
That’s when I thought it would be amusing to tease, “I’m on my way, just as fast as I can change out of my jammies!” I followed that by textmonishing him to, “tell the other moms how helpful I was with your paper last night!”
Somehow, he didn’t detect my tongue-in-cheekiness, and a few hours later he was worried sick.
And he wasn’t the only one. My youngest went outside and surveyed the driveway, attempting to reassure everyone, “Her car is here!”
But that was insufficient for the older siblings. His big sister text-shouted,
GO INTO MOM AND DAD’S ROOM RIGHT THIS MINUTE AND CHECK IF SHE IS IN HER BED!!!
So, there I sat the next morning, drinking my coffee, perusing the aftermath of texts, riddled with guilt.
For about a minute.
Until it hit me – MY kids were looking for someone who said they were going to be somewhere by sometime o’clock, who then no-showed and was now NOT answering their cell? In a million weekend nights we could never be even for all the sleepless hours I have endured worrying about them.
As an added bonus, I got additional delight picturing their precious faces as it dawned on them – with mom gone, the remainder of their collective upbringings would be in the hands of Dad. Just Dad. That’s 50% of the Bad Cop/Good Cop Parenting Formula.
As in Bad Cop only.
“We’re so screwed” they surely must’ve thought. We must find her.
Ginger Alert- I had lunch with a couple of friends a few days earlier and we discussed the challenges of building empathy in our children. While I certainly didn’t set out purposely to create a life lesson here, I admit I’ll take all the help I can get.