It started about the time the first of my six girls reached her mid-20’s, and has continued ever since.
The phone started ringing regularly. The calls weren’t for me.
“Mom, how do I get this stain out?”
“Mom, the baby’s got a rash. What is it?”
“Mom, his shin guards are bothering him. What should I do?”
“Mom, do you have a good idea for a birthday party?”
“Mom, the baby just doesn’t seem right. What’s wrong?”
“Mom, my friend is pregnant. Can you sew her a baby quilt?”
“Mom, how long does this chicken have to cook?”
I could go on. From my oldest daughter to my youngest, the calls just keep coming. Every day, a call or two. Or three. The boys call occasionally, but it’s the girls who are lighting up the phone lines.
Back when they were teenagers, both our sons and daughters didn’t have a great deal of use for us, except as the providers of things they enjoyed—cooking, keys, and clothes. Don’t get me wrong, they were great, unselfish kids, but teenagers can’t really help being teenagers.
Then the miracle occurred—the one every parent waits for: when their children come out the other end of the adolescent tunnel. One day it just happens. Calling Mom is cool again.
All of this makes me very happy. I have no problem with my wife getting about ten times the number of calls from kids that I get. I offer job advice when requested, and I’ve reviewed resumes and college term papers by the dozens. But it’s not the same thing. It’s not supposed to be the same thing.
That’s because mothers, not fathers, are the family treasure chest. By the time they’ve been at it for a couple of decades, mothers become encyclopedically omniscient. The stuff they know how to do, fix, salvage, mend, prepare, and create is mind-boggling.
What pleases me most about all this mining of Mom’s mind is that my daughters, in their own ways and at their own pace, have discovered their mother’s true worth. And it’s not just the worth of her intelligence—handling everything from a short-turnaround birthday party to dealing with the post-baby blues—but the abiding worth of her love.
And at this stage of their lives, it’s occurring to them that all the knowledge and wisdom Mom has learned over the years is worth knowing for themselves. And they’ve also realized that if they wait too long to learn it, they just might miss out.
After all, neither one of us likely to live forever—although so far so good.
So when they call with their questions, and Mom correctly diagnoses infections or pink eye on the spot without ever seeing the patient, it’s not just the information being conveyed—it’s the deeper education taking place, as the competent teacher shares her wealth of knowledge with her now fully-prepared students.
In closing, I’d just like to suggest to the sea of Millennials who are gradually replacing the Boomers, that despite all evidence to the contrary, Mom isn’t always going to be there. If there’s stuff she can do that you can’t, it might be a good idea to engage with her now, so you can learn what you need to know. No teacher will be happier to share, or love the student more.
And yes, I know I have a roll in all this passing-on-knowledge-stuff too, but who’s kidding who? I know my place, and it’s a good place. But it pales in comparison to hers. Sure, I’m the dad, but she’s the mom. And just like my kids, I benefit every day from the glow of her spirit, soul, and accumulated knowledge.
So if you’re sort of letting all that accumulated Mom-wisdom go to waste right now, don’t let the drifting banality of life unintentionally move the two of you any further apart. Today might be a very good day to begin to reconnect on a level that’s deeper than the one you share now. Your mom is a treasure chest. Turn the key while you can.