May 13, 2000
The Look


Daughter #1 sent me a Mother's Day card this week, along with a very sweet [sniff] handwritten letter:
"Mom -

I love you so much and I hope you have a good Mother's Day! Thank you so much for everything you have done for me. I can't wait to see you next month! You will love my apartment! I can send you pictures as soon as they're developed! I love you!

Jaymi Lynn"

(Hey! You know you're doing sSOMETHING right when they voluntarily sign their middle name on the Mother's Day card!)

three grrrls ... jan. 2000

I have yet to hear anything from Son #Only or Daughter #2 this weekend, but I'm sure they'll be checking in at some point tomorrow.  (See: Mom's coming to visit next month, and she's bringing her checkbook camera with her!)

Geographical distance, of course, makes the traditional burned-toast and-soggy-Cheerios Mother's Day *breakfast in bed* impossible ... and I'm afraid that the days of pipe-cleaner corsages and paper plate bouquets are long gone ... so I will happily settle for a phone call.

Or an e-mail.

Such is the nature of long-distance non-custodial momhood.

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I still get "The Look" once in a while.

It happened again last night, as a matter of fact. Just after I'd finished composing the *mini-tribute* to my pal EdmundKaz and was preparing to head out of the office for home, the Vice President of Business Financial Development wandered past my open office door, for the bazillionth time in twenty minutes. (I think he was waiting for me to leave so he could help himself to my penguins.) This time, he broke ranks and actually spoke to me.

"What are you doing here so late?" he asked.

I explained to him that I like to stay late on Friday nights. "My boyfriend picks me up at seven," I said. "I'm just getting ready to meet him downstairs."

"Well, I hope you have a nice weekend," he said. "Are you and your daughter doing anything special for Mother's Day?" He had met Daughter #1 briefly last year, when she was here for one of her Bay Area visits.

"Actually," I said, "I have TWO daughters and a son." And I pointed to the framed photo that sits on top of my office bookcase ... right next to the pen-holder Son #Only made me in woodshop, a small woven basket Jaymi gave me as a thank-you-for-letting-me-sleep-on-your-sofa gift, and an additional small picture of Daughter #2 in her Rainbow Girls finery.

A sort of mini *Tot Shrine,* if you will.

To my consternation  --  most of my EdmundKaz i.m. conversation was still visible on my computer screen, and I wasn't wearing any shoes -- the VPofBFD actually walked into my office, strode across the room to my bookcase, and made a big show of peering closely at the Tot Photo. He asked the obligatory questions -- How old are they? What are their names? Would they like to become Vice Presidents of Business Development when they grow up? -- followed by The Big Question.

"All three of them are in Seattle?" he asked. 

I nodded. Frankly, at that moment I was more interested in locating my other shoe than I was in participating in this conversation.

"And they live with ... ?" he persisted.

"Their father," I replied matter-of-factly.

And there it was. The Look.

That split-second, nearly subliminal expression of surprise and curiousity and vague disapproval, whenever some people learn for the first time that my children and I live three states apart. I've seen that look a bazillion times in the past couple of years. It used to hurt my feelings. It used to make me cry. I used to get all defensive and angry about it, and I wanted to bitch-slap that expression right off the face of the snooty beautician/nosey dental assistant/overly curious co-worker.

Worst of all, for a long time I allowed The Look to reinforce my (erroneous) feeling that I was an irredeemably bad human being.

But just like watching other people drinking in restaurants, I've toughened up a little in recent months, and I'm learning to deal with The Look ... and with the reasons behind my reactions to it.

This is something I'll write about at greater length another day.

For the moment, let's just say that the plain fact of the matter is that I AM a noncustodial mother: I live in California, and my children live in Washington State with their father, and that's as much *detail* as I am obligated to provide in casual conversation. If they are unable to conceal their surprise or disapproval or constipation ... that's THEIR problem.

Not mine.

(Besides. If they're really curious about the whys and wherefores and howcomes of our situation ... or if they just need a really good potato soup recipe ... they can always come here to *FootNotes.*)

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In the meantime. I will be spending my Mother's Day tomorrow buying dish towels and kitchen gadgets and emergency first aid kits and wall clocks ... and yes, candles and candle holders (sheesh) ... for Daughter #1's groovy new apartment. 

I'm thinking Bed, Bath and Beyond.

David is thinking Japan Town.

I wonder how Daughter #1 would feel about a Panda Toaster?

Stay tuned.

one year ago today

throw a rock