I just returned from a trip to Baltimore visiting my daughter over Mother’s Day weekend. I was in a mothering mode much of the trip. Tracy treated me to brunch on Sunday at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Following mimosas and crabby quiche we wandered through rooms filled with Rothkos and Renoirs. While the artistic retrospective was wonderful, I was at least as struck by the personal one. To witness my child’s evolution into adulthood to someone who values literature and art is this mother’s dream.
While celebrating mother’s day was a focus of the trip, the main reason was to help her find housing. At my encouragement several years ago Tracy bought a condo in downtown Baltimore. She is a high school English teacher at an inner city school. She is also enrolled in an MFA (Masters in Fine Art) program at the University of Baltimore. Her condo is on the basement level and has been broken into a couple of times during her tenure there. Nothing, however, prepared us for what happened in her condo a couple of weeks ago. At 2 in the morning a Molotov cocktail was thrown through her bedroom window. I guess shock does funny things to the psyche because she picked up the Smirnoff bottle and through it into her kitchen sink so afraid was she of her place catching on fire. Kerosene infused flames erupted singeing her cabinets. Gathering cats and clothes she escaped the smoke engulfed rooms to a neighbor’s place.
It was the kind of phone call every parent dreads- the one that comes in the middle of the night…concerning your child… with bad news. My heart is beating faster and the panic I felt returns even as I write this. She was so calm. Multiple firemen, police and detectives occupied this burn zone until way into the morning. There was an offer to relocate her to another place. “We’ll add extra patrols to this area. Your number is in our data-base. If you call 911, we will be to your place in two minutes.” Somewhat comforting I suppose, but not enough.
So Mother’s Day weekend was about finding a safe place for my little girl. She kept using that word “safe”. A safe neighborhood out of the city…a place up high where burning bottles could not easily penetrate glass windows. Safety. I think she is experiencing some form of PTSD. I know I am on her behalf. The good news is that we were successful. We found an apartment she can occupy immediately. It is in the midst of an Orthodox Jewish enclave. Her own Temple is nearby.
It was so hard to leave her yesterday. Even though my children are adults and live away, they are still my children. People talk about children reaching adulthood. The age of that transitions seems to keep shifting..18, 21, 30. But whether it be 2, 22, or 52, I have a feeling there is no end-date for mothering. There is no age of retirement. And I wouldn’t want it any other way. The unmitigated joy of hearing my daughter’s words read at a literary conference; seeing her appreciation of the art I so love, of our shared values; feeling the nurturing part of her mothering me on occasion…these are the rewards of mothering, making those middle of the night scary phone calls worth it.