The Walk Home

The Red Notebook is an homage to my momma- a woman who, to this day, absolutely despises being the center of attention.
My mom is the ultimate introvert and is hyper self-conscious.
She never goes anywhere alone, worries too much and well…she reacts.
What does that mean?  It means she goes from placid lake to raging sea in .5 seconds if she’s afraid you’re going to get hurt or if someone says something careless.
You know the type; the yeller, the freaker-outer.
Being the little shit that I was as a kid, I used to looooove to push her buttons. What could I do to get that reaction? I remember one of the first times I provoked her.
When I was in Kindergarten, we lived in Champaign/Urbana, IL. My dad was working hard to make ends meet and my mom was home with my little sister who attended a special gifted preschool program through the Univ of IL (I did too, although I often wonder if sometime in my childhood I fell and knocked all the smarts out of my head- we’ll get into that later).
The preschool program got out about the same time as my Kindergarten class, so I’d have to walk home from school every day while my mom picked up my sister.
Yep, this was back when kids actually had to navigate the world and there were few sounds of parent helicopters whirling overhead.
Anyway, I’d walk home where my mom would have my lunch all set out. She always got home within minutes of my walking in the door, but the taste of that freedom was empowering.
One day, my mom got home a little early, so she stood at the end of the driveway to watch for me as I did what most kindergarten aged kids did- I dilly dallied.
I’d stop to pick a flower or chase a butterfly- you know all that kinda stuff you do when you have no worries.  Now, keep in mind, my mom wasn’t usually waiting at the end of the driveway. As I turned the corner onto Green Street where we lived, I spotted her.  She waved to me and yelled, “Be Careful!! This is a busy street!”
That evil part of my brain lit up like a Christmas tree.
Oh, look how cute I am when I’m concocting a plan:
Without consciously thinking about it, I started to zig zag across the street.
With every zig my mom would yell. With every zag she’d yell even louder.
“WOW! The power I have!” I thought to myself.
Pure evil.
My poor mom was ready to stroke out by the time I got to the driveway.
I stood there as she let me have it.  She made sure I knew how bad I scared her and how I could’ve been hit by a car…maybe even died…etc. etc.
As her words became muffled under the sound of my own thoughts, I thought, “What’s the big deal? I know what I’m doing. I have control. Why’s she so upset?” I heard her talk about danger, but I felt like she was mis-judging my capabilities.
And that pretty much defines how our relationship has always been.
I’m fiercely independent and stubborn and a massive control freak.  I’ve never bent easily to the will of others.
My mom is a worrier; a caregiver who often sees the potential dangers and consequences of just about everything.  Needless to say, I made life interesting for my mom.
But here’s the thing – my mom is absolutely amazing.
Despite being a worrier, a “reactor” fearful of the world around her, she stood strong and faced her fears.
She took on things that terrified her when she had to.  With that intention, that grit, she discovered her life’s purpose.
And I was watching.  I was observing. I was appreciating this strength.
I certainly didn’t demonstrate that as a kid and especially not as a teen, but I was taking it all in and later, when I called upon my instincts as a parent, her example was there for me to draw upon.
One of the best gifts my mom ever gave me is the certainty that anyone can do just about anything when they put their mind to it.
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