Let’s give credit where it’s due, shall we? On Mother’s Day, I can’t help but think of what it means to be a mom, and everything I have to be thankful for when it comes to the lottery ticket I pulled in being blessed with the parents I’ve been given. With that praise of course, comes the dark side.
Years ago, as I teetered on the precipice of adulthood, I drove out West to visit a friend of mine. I was already showing signs of maturing into an upstanding young adult, so I’m not sure why my mom was so worried about my road trip. (Yes, I have a daughter. I get it now.) But, without fail, as each one of her kids tested out their new wings of freedom, there were corresponding bouts of irrational behaviour. She made me promise to check in when I was about to stop for the first night. As I packed up the car, I was weak with excitement. It was my first major trip, all on my own. The thought of no adult supervision left me feeling light headed and dizzy. I had so many butterflies in my stomach that I nearly spewed whilst leaning out the car window to wave goodbye. That would have gone over really well.
And so, after a long day of driving, I decided to call my mom from the road to alleviate her concerns. We chatted for about 10 minutes before my cellphone battery went dead. I didn’t think anything of it because we were pretty much done our conversation anyway, and I was concentrating on finding the right exit to get a hotel room for the night. I checked into a cheap, little motor hotel, then marched up the service road to get a bite to eat and buy some trashy magazines. When I returned to my room about an hour later, there was a note taped to my door, asking that I report to the front desk immediately. Puzzled, I headed over to the front of the building and approached the woman sitting behind the desk in the office. She eyeballed me over her bifocals.
Me:“Excuse me. There was a note taped to my door, room 16, that said to come here immediately.”
Her:“Yeah, that’s right. The local police department is trying to get a hold of you. It seems they need to speak to you right away.”
Me:“The police? Are you sure? What for?”
Her:“How would I know what for? It’s none of my business. I didn’t ask.”
The way she was staring at me, I figured she had me pegged as a drug dealer or an illegal immigrant. I swear she was just shy of jumping over the desk to frisk me herself. Instead, she handed me a slip of paper with a phone number to call. As I headed back to my room, I started to shake, racking my brain for what I could have possibly done to warrant a police search. And then it hit me… something terrible must have happened to someone at home. I quickly dialled the number to the local police department, gave them my name, and told them one of their own was looking for me.
Constable:“Oh, glad to hear from you. Are you all right, then?”
Me:“Of course I’m all right. But why did you track me down? What happened?”
Constable:“By any chance, were you on the phone with your mom recently? In the last hour or so?”
Me:“Yeah, why?” (heart pounding, dreading horrible news about my mom)
Constable:“Did you get cut off or something?”
Me:“By another car, you mean?”
Constable: “No. I mean was your conversation prematurely cut short?”
Me:“No. Well, wait, my cellphone battery died near the end of our conversation. Why?”
Constable:“That’s what I thought. (By this point, the poor dude was having a very hard time stifling his laugh.) Do me a favour and give your mom a quick call to let her know you’re OK. She thought that maybe your call had been disconnected because you’d been abducted or kidnapped or something, so she called us to track down your car.”
Me:“Please tell me you’re joking. Really, who is this?”
Sadly, no joke… I wasbeyond embarrassed. M.O.R.T.I. F.I.E.D. That my mom’s concern for me would extend to notifying the police that I went missing, from a phone call, was beyond comprehension. Not to mention, I couldn’t quite understand how she thought I could have been kidnapped from a moving vehicle — maybe she’d been watching too many Superman reruns. I called her immediately and told her that I couldn’t believe she’d embarrass me like that; she just laughed and told me that I’d understand one day. She also mentioned she couldn’t believe how quickly the police department had responded and how she’d have to call up a florist and send them a bouquet of flowers to thank them. At this point, I distinctly recall telling her that placing an order for a floral arrangement would irreparably damage our relationship. I could already imagine the potential clip on the evening news should the story be leaked: “Breaking story — some of the following footage may contain scenes that are graphic and disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised. Police are following up on a bizarre case involving a floral arrangement and a teenage girl — it’s believed that her umbilical cord is still attached to her mother. The hospital where she was delivered years ago, could not be reached for comment. Stay tuned as the sordid details continue to unfold.”
Flash forward to present day. Now that I’m a mother, I completely understand what drove her to call the police… sort of. (I’m certain the last piece of understanding will come when my kids start to drive.) On this Mother’s Day, I just want to say this: Mom, thanks for calling the cops to find me when you thought I was in danger. I’m not embarrassed anymore. I hope you know that the world is a better place just by having you in it. You make being a mom look easy, and I now realize it’s the most challenging assignment one can ever accept. Raising eight kids? You must have had dreams of running far, far away… very, very often. But you didn’t. You stuck around and gave us all you had. I pray that I’ll always be that brave for those I love. Thanks Mom — I love you.
JanitaVandeVeldegrewuponafarmnear Mariapolis,Man.Sheholdsabachelorof sciencedegreeinagriculturaleconomicsfrom theUniversityofManitoba,andhasworked forafinancialinstitutionsincegraduating. ShelivesinRegina,Sask.,withherhusband RoddyandtheirchildrenJackandIsla.Her firstnovel,PostcardsNeverWritten,was therecipientoftheSaskatchewanReader’s ChoiceAwardandalsolistedbyCBCasone ofthetopfunnybooksin2009.Shedonatesa portionofproceedsfromthesaleofherbook toWorldVisiontohelpthoselessfortunate. Formoreinformation,ortoorderherbook, visitherwebsiteat www.janita.ca
Now that I’m a mother, I completely understand what drove her to call the police… sort of