That's What Mothers Do
Highlands TodayMy son has moved to New York City. And I'm okay with it ... sort of.
Published: July 28, 2008
Published: July 28, 2008
When he first told me he was moving to New York, my reaction was the typical maternal instinct-panic! Because that's what mothers do. It's in our job description.
I immediately pictured him mugged in an alley or hopelessly lost in the subway system.
I saw him huddled in a freezing apartment because he forgot to pay the electric bill and trudging through knee-deep snow because he couldn't afford to take a cab.
New York is far away, but it wasn't the distance that freaked me out. He has lived more than 700 miles from us for the last two years. But he was in Alabama where he grew up - where he knows half the people in town by their first name, and where half a dozen lifelong friends were right there, available to help him at a moment's notice.
New York is really only a little farther away, but it seems light years away because we don't know anyone in the whole state, let alone in the crowded, dirty, dangerous, jungle of Manhattan.
As the thought sank in, I also started seeing dollar signs. Isn't rent in New York City something like $2,000 a month for a fourth-floor walkup the size of a Tootsie Roll? It might be a really fun place to visit, but, live there? How could my son even consider it?
Fortunately, before any of this mental hand-wringing made it from my brain to my tongue, I heard the excitement in his voice, and I knew that if I were single and just out of college, New York would have me salivating too. So I simply could not rain on his parade.
I tried to be enthused about the opportunity he'd found - a temporary residency in photography at the School of Visual Arts. I listened to his plans and made suggestions, being careful to sound supportive and encouraging.
Eventually, I got around to reminding him of things like costs he hadn't considered. But, in the end, I knew, as he knew, that I would give him my blessing and a good share of my bank account, to help him follow his dreams. Because that's what mothers do. It's in our job description.
It's not that I don't have faith in him. I do. He's very intelligent and resourceful. He traveled to England to study at Oxford his junior year of college, and he was fine, but then he wasn't alone. He was with a group of students and professors on a regimented itinerary. On this trip to New York he would be alone in totally unfamiliar surroundings and circumstances.
I worried he would miss his plane or his connecting flight. I worried he would lose his wallet, or misplace his credit card, or forget to charge his cell phone so he couldn't call us for help. I worried because that's what mothers do. It's in our job description.
I hate to admit it, but I was surprised when he called to report that he had navigated his way through LaGuardia Airport, found a cab, and made it to his destination without incident. Of course, I told him I was not surprised at all. That I'd had total confidence he could do it.
As I hung up the phone and it hit me that my baby has become a man, and a very capable one at that. I smiled and thanked God, and thought about the little boy who clutched my hand and looked so scared his first day of kindergarten. Then I sat down and cried.
Because that's what mothers do. It's in our job description.