Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mentor Mummy

Mentor Mummy
My mother lives down the road. 
We get together every week for coffee or a glass of wine and trade stories of the week.
"Hello, Mummy," I say when I see her, and "Hello, Darling," she says in her elegant-Mummy way.

I check to be sure she seems healthy.  She checks to be sure I seem happy. 
She feels lucky to live this close to me, but I am luckier.
She has told me how important these visits are to her, but right now, they are more important to me because I'm taking notes.
It is the equivalent of a walk, a quiet drive, an hour with my own thoughts to spend that hour or so with my mother, because as true as it was back when I was sneaking into the bathroom to cut my own hair, there's nothing that travels through my mind that I can't say or ask her if I choose to. 
She feels lucky to have a daughter, she has said, but I am luckier to be the daughter of the least judgmental parent on the planet.  
As is the way with daughters and mothers, we have more in common as I age.  In her late seventies,  she's seen this movie while I'm still dealing with plot twists and new characters. And every so often, I miss something in the script. Maybe an exchange that raised my antennae, maybe an observation that made me circle back, maybe a throwaway I plucked from the pile of things that are easy to miss but should be noticed.
A comment, a facial expression.
Like a college professor or a favorite boss who loves to see what has become of a promising charge, my mother has done her hands-on and off parenting, and is happy to listen to me talk about mine. Many of our conversations start with, "Tell me what you think about this..."
Mummies don't retire.
They become mentors.
Our youngest child will graduate college in two weeks. My hands-on parenting days are behind me, and most of our children have not just left the nest but are feathering their own.
Some  parents describe a feeling at this stage of a job done, a giant project turned in. But I have learned from my weekly visits with Mummy that the longer we live, the more, not less we have in common. That if we talk less, we will probably say more. That the best conversations are about listening and not telling, asking not assuming, arriving by invitation and not force. And, most recently, that whether we live down the street from one another or on opposite coasts, it won't matter.
The best parenting years of all might be these hands-off ones, when the communication is easy and honest and the wish of one to know what is in the heart and mind of the other is the relationship's signature.
My mentor-Mummy is thankful to have me in her life, but with all my heart, I am more thankful for all these years I've had to be my mother's mentee, Darling.