"Honey, I'm so happy to hear your voice," my mom says, and even though it's frigid outside a rush of warmth runs through me. Mom's always genuinely thrilled to hear from me, unlike my 8-year-old who has a lovely habit of answering my calls from work with, "I can't talk to you now, I'm making a Rainbow Loom bracelet."
I've been calling my mother en route to the office from the train station for a few months now. There was no reason in particular I started doing it, just a general sense that she is getting older and that I need to make the most of our time. The calls usually last just a few minutes, but they make my entire day.
We don't talk about anything deep, which is best saved for visits and weekend conversation. Mom tells me what she made for dinner last night, and what her plans are for the day-folk dancing at the local senior center, grocery shopping for fruits and vegetables. Mostly, she wants to talk about me and my family. I'll update her on the kids-a good grade on a spelling test, how funny it was when my son decided to examine me during his annual check-up at the doctor's office. She'll ask how I'm feeling, if the heat's working well in our house, if that cough has finally gone away and whether I have too much going on. I'll tell her I'm fine, even when it's not so true because I don't want to worry her.
"Remember that nice widower upstairs you wanted to set me up with?" Mom mentioned the other day. "He died." She says it matter-of-factly, without sadness. She lives in an apartment building filled with elderly people, and the passing of another neighbor has become common. It's yet another reminder to be grateful for our calls.
These morning moments bolster my spirit and soul for the day. Connecting with my mom reminds me of what matters most in this world: the people you love. It's a reality check I need, because it's all too easy to get caught up in work concerns, kid concerns, home concerns, money concerns, concerns, concerns, concerns.
Mom listens to the radio religiously, and likes to inform me about interesting stuff, particularly anything health-related. She tells me about recent research that shows downing a daily multivitamin is basically useless and reminds me, as she always has, that the best way to get nutrients is from actual foods. She asks if I'm eating chia seeds. She wants to know if I had a bagel or Greek yogurt for breakfast. "I hope you had the yogurt, it's full of protein," she'll say. "Yes, mom, I did," I answer, dutifully.
I have a loving husband and family. But really, who in your life cares about you in quite the same way your mom does?
"I love you," I always say as we hang up.
"I love you more," Mom always responds.
When I get to my office building, I don't walk in dreading the day's deadlines. I'm riding the bliss high of my call with Mom. Sure, stress will seep in, but when I'm feeling it I'll think back to our call, and try to get my head back to that happy, happy place.
-By Ellen Seidman