When I became a mother myself, I thought often about what I missed most about my own mother. This little tea ritual was on the top of the list. I looked at my beautiful infant daughter and promised us both that we’d do the same thing.
Fast forward a few years and this was not so easy. My mother was a stay-at-home mom, I was not. I’d pick my daughter up from after-school care, we’d drive home and there was no time to sit down for a leisurely cup of tea at 5 pm. We could do it in the summers, when I wasn’t working and it was afternoon snack time. It became clear that for the rest of the year we were going to have to find something else.
It turned out that I didn’t have to “find” anything, our daily together time was right in front of me. In the car. My daughter attended the school where I taught, so each day we would carpool together in and back. When she was in lower school, I had the advantage of working with her teachers. In the faculty room each day I would get treated to anecdotes about what my daughter had said or done, so I had an “advance briefing.” I’d find a way to bring up what I knew about her day through questions that got her to tell me the story on the way home, and I had the delightful experience of hearing about her day from both an adult and a child’s perspective. It quickly became my favorite part of our day together.
When my daughter started driving herself to school her senior year, I was very sad. I knew it was all part of growing up, and that soon she’d be off at college, but I wasn’t as ready to let go of our car-time as I thought I’d be. I remembered sobbing the first time 4-year-old Anne got out of the car by herself at day care and told me not to walk her in. I felt the strong resonance of that memory in my heart. I’d raised a magnificent, independent person. She was ready to go. It was I who was not ready for her to leave. Time to do the mother’s work of letting go, yet again.
Now, through the wonders of technology, we text almost every day. And, come to think of it, it’s usually around 4 pm.