It happened on a Saturday. Months in planning: meeting with attorneys and bankers, signing leases and changing addresses, arranging for movers and painters, all leading up to the actual day that my mother moved out of her house, but it wasn't until Saturday, after the movers had come and gone, that it hit me.
"You mean that I am now expected to sleep here?", looking around the living room of her new apartment, as confused as I suppose she might have looked on the day I was born.
As did I, because in that moment I realized that I was no longer the child; never again would I ride in the backseat with my parents in front, directing my life while I sat helplessly staring out the window.
I was homesick. Not for the house from which we had just pried my mother, one that was never my home, but for a time when I wasn't making decisions, when it wasn't my responsibility to see that everyone was fed and dressed appropriately.
This really happened years ago when I was vaulted from daughter to decision maker after my father had a life altering car accident. In the emergency room the questions came at me so rapidly that I didn't have time to think, and the only answer was please, please do everything you can. And they did. Our roles changed that day, but it happened so quickly and without warning I didn't really understand.
"It's like I'm the kid again, my mother and grandmother do all the cooking", explained a mom friend, right before Thanksgiving. That idea is now so far away that I cannot imagine what it might feel like to wake up on Thanksgiving day with nothing to do but watch parades and arrive at dinner with only a bottle of wine.
I'm the oldest in every possible way: I direct, I coordinate, I make decisions. I'm happier in charge and feel lost without direction. But every once in a while, just for fun, I'd like someone else to pick the restaurant.
Last week, while reading a book to the second grade about family, one of the boys in class raised his hand, "Are your parents still alive Mrs. Lang? Because if your parents are still alive then you still get to be a kid."
Oh if only that were true.