January 1, 2010

Flight of the Eagle: A Mom Wintering in Savannah and Her Daughter Handling the Experience

I am a member of the Sandwich generation – no that’s not a fancy way of saying I eat at Subway every day. Most of us know, being a member of the sandwich generation means I have young children and aging Baby Boomer Parents. (I like to now refer to myself as the “Big Mac” though.) In the past few years I have begun seeing the necessity in helping parents. To doctor appointments, surgeries and assisting them with many projects that require more assistance than if my parents were younger. I am seeing them slow down a little, which is an odd thing to experience. It’s not been a biggie though, taking care of things… This morning was a first for me, a first for the New Year, and a first for Mom – She decided to winter down south and is headed for Savannah for three months.

I’ll have to say, I wasn’t thrilled with the prospect when she made the announcement several months ago. She has always said she wanted to winter there when my brother had kids, but THEY DON’T HAVE THEM YET! I felt a put out because my young children were not going to have their Nana here for birthday's, and she had made the commitment (asked to have that right really) to watch them 1 day each week. The reality is there aren’t kids in Savannah missing their Nana.

I was selfish about it too, because mom is one of my best friends and my back-up when I have client meetings. She’s also our primary baby-sitter for Michael’s and my “very occasional” date-night. We probably won’t have any dates in the next three-months, but then again we might not have had any regardless... I just felt though, that she should have waited another year until my brother had children. (As fate happens though, that would have been next year anyway!) And so this morning I had to say “good-bye” to mom and her two cats as they ventured to Savannah-land!

The journey to get there, has been harrowing even before the actual trip began. First mom said “I can’t put as many holiday decorations up since I am leaving and oh-by-the-way you need to come help take them all down”. Which really means mom’s hundreds of candles – maybe even thousands of candles – and 50-some-odd Christmas trees, were limited to one tree in every room (three in the basement family room), a dozen or so candles in every room and greenery hanging from only 50% of her home. My brother was luckily in town for the holiday, so I roped him and his wife into being assistant elves for un-decorating the main tree and part of the decorations on the main floor. The remainder of greenery and nick-knacks will be taken down at my leisure sometime before April 1 - As long as mom doesn’t know. So long as the neighbors don’t look in her windows and shake their heads in amazement of her everlasting holiday spirit, who cares right?

Next came the “help me with all my necessary new gadgets”: the car-top carrier, the scary new GPS unit, a new laptop with attached webcam, and the all-important car pet-gate. Her two kitties needed roam the rear of her Escape which would hopefully limit them yowling like skinned cats being boiled in hot oil. It’ll help that she’s feeding them kitty-marijuana (a.k.a. high quality cat-nip.) so they get high, get the munchies and fall into blissful slumber… Considering she called me as she was just south of the boarder, with a kitty-chorus accompaniment in the background, I'm not sure that plan worked.

My husband and I set her up with all the gadgets, and made sure she was ready to go. God help me if she tries Skyping the kids and I on the twice-daily cycle she has mentioned – If that happens I will be ripping my router out of the wall and dumping the laptop in the backyard pond!

Then came time to pack her and send her off; for some reason within the past few days, mom has become insecure about her impending travel plans. She somehow felt that she made a huge mistake – It is more likely that she expected to see the kids and me in Savannah sometime during her stay. Thankfully she won’t be alone in Savannah though – She knows my sister-in-laws parents plus she has Andy and Lora AND the exciting prospect of a new baby later in the year. I assured her things would be fine, but she’s still had doubts and many bouts of tears this week. Yesterday when she said good-bye to the kids you would have thought she was moving to a part of the world to become a hermit living without means of communication. The tears came out like a leaky faucet, and almost as heavily as her over-packed cartop carrier that was parked inside her garage and needed to be un-packed in order to be backed out...

Mom's original plan for leaving this morning was for me to meet her at 9:00 a.m. to send her and the cats off. But as plans go, they changed - at 6:45 a.m. this morning.

Brrrrriiiinnng, brrrrriiiinnng, brrrrriiiinnng – I heard the sharp shrill cutting through the depths of slumber and my pleasant dreams. I madly dashed for the phone grabbing it before the noise woke the kids. Standing there in my bare feet on the cold tile floor, my knees shaking as my night-shirt swished against my legs from the scramble.

Hello.” I muster as quietly as I can hoping that I would not be receiving any unpleasant early morning news.

GOOD MORNING!!!” she all but shouts, “What are you doing?”

Ah “Sleeping.” I say, shivering from being ripped from beneath my warm, cozy cocoon.

Oh, I thought you were coming to say good-bye.” She cries. “You ARE coming aren’t you? You don’t have to if you don’t want to.”

I pause for a moment knowing fully well that there IS no option here - Nope NO options. “Yes I’m coming, I told you that. My alarm was set for 8:00 a.m.” I say softly, trying not to sound a bit defensive with my froggy morning voice.

Well I’ve been up for a while and thought maybe you would want to come now.”

Sighing and knowing fully well that this is now a request, I give in. I begin to peel back my eyelids to clear my head and need either a hot cup of coffee or a severe jolt with a cattle prod to get me moving. I agree to leave shortly and now need to decide if taking the kids, especially my son who ASKED to go, is worth it - Again there are no options here, so I set off to get ready.

My three year old, who I swear can not POSSIBLY be my child with her perky can-do morning attitude – yes she’s “one of them, the chipper morning types!” - can now be found squeezing her way into my bathroom where the lights are still off and I am running a comb through my short shaggy main. Mom may be getting me earlier than planned, but not with my complete make-up and hair fashionably done...

Next I hear a litany of “Momwhatchadoing, huh? Whereyagoing? Whyareyouup? Where’sdaddy? Momwhatchadoing, huh? Momwhatchadoing, huh? Momwhatchadoing, huh?” I’m fairly certain this went on for at LEAST 5 minutes with my daughter’s cherubic face grinning like the Cheshire Cat squeaking out the questions over, and over, and over but I managed to block most of it out - At 6:45 a.m. in the morning after a very late New Year's Eve, this is not even slightly cute! I THINK I may have simply asked her to shush, but I really can not be certain, maybe she just went away.

“Can I go too mam-ma?”

Of course you can sweetie. Just please be quiet for mommy.” I say as I hear my husband, who is still snuggled securely beneath the sheets, breathe an overly large sigh of relief.

We spend the next few minutes getting ready, and then wake my son. Zach is less than pleased to hear about Nana’s early morning call as he asked me “Why can’t she wait for us to come later?” He wouldn't understand the demands made when one gets “older” though, so I don't bother answering…

We arrive at mom’s home shortly after 7:30 in time to stuff the cats into the back of the car, listen to last minute instructions and to give many goodbye hugs and kisses. There was only a brief moment of mistiness in my eyes, which I’m certain mom wanted to see, that I quickly pulled back. I will not cry – Not now anyway. This trip south is what mom wants and needs, it’s about her independence and the freedom for her to make these types of choices.

Being the Big Mac that I am, I know I will likely see this happening more and more in the next few years - More doctors’ appointments, more projects and more winters in Savannah. Mom deserves these precious freedoms to enjoy now, and I will not keep her from them. I will always be there to pick her up, kiss her skinned knees, set her up and send her off, always taking care of things during the in-between. And I will be there to laugh hysterically as my brother gets to “enjoy” some of these things I enjoy – So farewell mom, you are somewhere in Virginia right now (I know because you have already called several times to tell me of your progress) enjoy all that Savannah has to offer. To my brother and his wife, the Eagle is in flight - You’ll have two days of peace before she lands, enjoy taking over the “Big Mac” title for a few months…

Note to Mom: Yes I really will come in the next week or so to clean and put things away, REALLY! I'm just poking fun at you right now.

Note to friends of the “chief”: No mom’s were injured during the writing of this piece, rest assured I will be the good daughter – as always!

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