Twas' the day before Thanksgiving. . .
A few days before Thanksgiving, I took a Bart train from San Francisco to the suburb of Pleasanton. It was one of those mornings that signal Thanksgiving is near-a cloudless sky, temperatures bracing enough to warrant diving into the coat closet to locate a scarf and gloves, and the sight of fallen leaves swirling in a neighborhood park as I walked to the Bart station. A billboard loomed above me, advertising a turkey dinner for only $39.99 at Marie Callender's.
I love the week leading up to Thanksgiving because of the anticipation of my family coming together again. I love the reminders on T.V., on radio and on social media to be grateful for what you have and hold because it allows me a moment to close my eyes and thank the Universe that my house echoes with laughter and joy again.
For the last four years, my routine was unchanging. On the Sunday before Thanksgiving, I would get ready to pick up my son from the airport. He'd fly in from the University of Michigan and when I'd see him waiting outside Terminal 2 at San Francisco International Airport, my heart flooded with emotion. My daughter would say its because you love him the most, that's why. "That's not true at all," I would hasten to reassure her even though a tiny part of me felt guilty. I know I loved both kids equally, of course I did, but sometimes it was easier to love more the kid who lived ten states removed from us and to . . . ahem, love less the kid who lived home with us, gave me constant lip, left dirty dishes in the sink and muddy tracks on the hardwood floor for me to clean. I often wondered if other mothers felt the same as I did? I would have loved to ask someone else, but in the asking, would I be betraying my kids? That thought gave me pause and left the question hanging on my lips unsaid.
Now, as I look out the window seeing the changing colors of the hills and the trees, I reflect on how my life has come full circle. This year my son has been living at home, commuting to his job in Mountain View while my daughter's moved away to college. My relationship with my daughter is the strongest it's ever been, because when she returns home now, our relationship is one of friends, not that of a nagging mom and daughter. We have dinner together, watch movies, talk late into the night. . .its the same delicious feeling I had when she was first born, of a strong bond forming.
At last Wednesday's neighborhood Heal Circle, when all the women present took a moment to say what they were grateful for, I found myself talking about my son returning home to live with us. "My son loves his red wine, and so does his mama. After five years of him being away, I'm grateful to re-connect with him over a dinner. To hear him open up about his plans for the future. Or, to just share a glass or a bottle of wine with him. . .who's counting, huh?" There's a titter of polite laughter at that but the words I said have resonated with the other moms. I'm surprised to see that in our circle of twelve-fourteen women, three others talk of re-connecting with their adult children.
"This is the strangest life I have known," said Jim Morrison. I feel the same way. When I began my married life, I didn't even want kids. Getting married was an evil necessity because my culture, my community, my middle-class upbringing demanded I be "settled in life" by age 23, 24 or 25. After 30, you're an old maid consigned to widowers and divorcees in the matrimonial ads in the Sunday edition of The Hindu. Finding my own mate, who was humorous and charming, and well-settled too, was the stuff legends are made of. Once I got hitched, I wanted to pursue my ambition of having a successful career in the law.
Little did I realize my husband had his own dream too, although decidedly less glamorous than mine. It involved a family of four, a white picket fence and a White Westie named Sheru. Twenty-seven years later, we're living his dream, while mine is collecting dust on cheap of abandoned goals. Life is a paradox, yet there's something to be said for this family thing. . . I wouldn't trade mine for a six-figure salary, a corner office in the Twitter building or a closet full of navy pin-striped suits.