Taken care of

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I don’t call my Mom a lot, or even enough. It’s a shame because when I do, it feels good in a way unlike anything else. It’s a shame because not everyone has a Mom to call. It’s a shame because not everyone has someone, let alone multiple someones to make them feel good in a way that moms can.

I called my Mom today. As a piece of a longer conversation we’ve been having, we talked about my younger cousin and his mom–my aunt on my Mom’s side. Recently we found out that my Aunt had been lying for about 2 years about holding a job and paying her bills. She had been stealing prescription pads from doctors and credit card information from my grandparents so that she could abuse pain medication and sleep away her demons. She lost apartments that my grandparents paid for, and she wrecked cars and squandered Pell grants that well-meaning organizations awarded her. When the State of Nebraska took away her 14-year-old son, we found out that at times he had to beat her just to get her out of bed. Not weeks later after being taken away from his mother, he tried to commit suicide. To say the least, my cousin has not had the good fortune to feel like there are people in his life who care about him.

As a parent, your kids will love you no matter what, but in exchange for that unconditional love you owe them something. You owe them food and a roof over their head, or the basics at least. They shouldn’t have to worry about how they live in a house or that they always have food to eat–it’s just there and that’s all that matters.

My mom said this with more than food and shelter in mind. We obviously expect more than raw materials from our parents; it’s this grey area distinguishing necessities from luxuries that makes the discussion interesting. What is it to be fortunate? When I was a kid, it was enough to not have to worry about my basics, but as an adult I’ve had to take charge of my life. In a very real sense, I will never again have the feeling of having everything taken care of, nor should I. However, even if no one will give me gas money, a job, a career, plane tickets, or relationships of any kind, there will always be people to help me through things. I have friends and mentors to read personal statements for graduate school. I have co-workers that are happy to take my shifts I can’t cover. I have shoulders to cry on and ears to vent into when I can’t handle the women in my life. At the very least, I will always have someone to talk to about my next step. I shiver at the thought of owning anything less, and that, I believe, is fortune.

My cousin has people in his life who care about him, but I think that he has to rebuild the feeling or the trust that this is so. This feeling is something that I take for granted, and it’s a shame. My mom told me she was worried that our wireless internet is broken, and my sister and I won’t be able to go online when we come home for Thanksgiving. I laugh. I’m just glad that I’ll have a warm meal to eat with family. I’ll sleep in my old bed that she’s probably made for me. I’ll get to tap that feeling of having everything taken care of, if only for a moment. Then, when the weekend is over, I’ll drive back to my apartment in Minnesota. Importantly, I’ll drive myself. I won’t get to sleep in the back seat, not knowing how I get there. That’s a good thing.

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One thought on “Taken care of

  1. The insight you display is also a form of gratitude. It’s really good to see you sensitive to the impact of ‘safety nets’ and stability in our lives, something I’ve long since feared was hopeless in this generation of middle-class Americans. You’re also showing an awareness of growth and autonomy with grace. Growing up doesn’t happen to everyone in their 20s, being aware of it happens to less, and among those who grow up, very very few remain tasteful about it. I think you’re in that sweet-spot. Many people are unwittingly trying to drive asleep in this world. Keep taking yourself where you want to go, but don’t forget it’s quite good, too, to sleep in the backseat occasionally.

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