I received an unexpected gift this Mothers Day. It was delivered from my past and came wrapped in a twenty year old quilted lavender bedspread. It was packed up in the back of our storage closet, propped up between the wooden crib where my babies slept and the plastic crates that my daughter recently brought home from college. It was our first dining table, a beautiful, affordable golden piece of oak with detachable legs. I remember when my husband and I found it at a second rate antique store in a small town along the banks of the Mississippi river in the late 1980s, a time when my individual and creative needs seemed to be effortlessly met by furnishing a home, starting a family and building a life. I had forgotten about the table, and the bedspread we used as a cover to protect it, where I had laid my baby girl to change her, to play with her, to meet her needs, and in doing so, somehow met my own.
We mothers can become pros at meeting other people’s needs and making adjustments for our children as we watch them grow and take note of their changing needs. We put baby dolls in attics to make room for Barbies and move the dress up clothes to the back of the closet so the prom dresses can be front and center. We pack away Tonka trucks and toy chests to create space for electric guitars and hockey sticks. We carefully create a place for our children to study, to learn, to create: a desk in the corner of their room with a lamp and wifi, pencils, papers and pens. We are so busy watching their progress and helping them grow, that I wonder if we sometimes forget that we are growing too.
My daughter is home for the summer after completing her sophomore year in college and my son is finishing up his last week as a junior in high school. They linger in the kitchen and talk with each other over coffee, discuss their summer jobs and hatch possible plans for their futures. They are busy meeting their own needs and I realize that I need to meet my own too.
For the past few months, I have been using our kitchen table as a makeshift desk to pursue my renewed interest in writing. But the kitchen is now ground zero for my children as they move in and out of the house this summer, and it is clear that I need to make an adjustment. I ask my husband to help me carry the old dining table upstairs to our bedroom, to an open space in front of the windows, and together, we assemble the legs. I add my laptop, some paper and a pen. Then I remember that it is Mothers Day and I have actually given myself a gift. I’ve taken note of my own changing needs and created a place for myself to create and to learn and to grow.