My 25-year-old daughter lives far away—and we’re very close. But she isn’t like some of my friend’s daughters who call their mothers just to chat every day. My daughter can go days without calling me. Even weeks at times.
When she does call, she often does it very early in the morning. Like she did a couple days ago. Of course she knows my habits so she knew I’d be asleep. I reach for the phone without opening my eyes.
I hear what every mother wants to hear on the other end: the voice of her adored child.
“YEEEEEOOOOOOWW!!!!!! HEELLLLLLPPPP!!!! OOOOHHHH MY GOD!!!!!”
“Bloodcurdling” doesn’t begin to describe it. No teen scream queen could come close.
A mother’s heart rate should automatically leap from zero to panic. I should be wondering how fast I could get on a plane for El Paso. But I don’t move. I keep my eyes shut. I burrow deeper into the covers and wait.
My mothering instincts kick in from a dead sleep. I know my daughter’s voice and I can identify this particular scream. I wait for the panting to stop. I start laughing.
“MOM!!!! IT’S HUGE!!!!! AT LEAST 3 INCHES LONG!!! AND IT’S IN MY CLOSET!!!!!!! WHAT DO I DO??????!!!!”
Alli moved out at 18 and has been completely self-supporting ever since. She’s capable, not clingy; fiercely independent, she never asks for help. She ran a business by age 20. While her husband was in Iraq for 15 months, she lived alone; moving twice across the country, packing and towing a U-Haul trailer by herself. She can fix a leaky faucet. She knows what’s under the hood of a car. She once lived with a roommate who allowed his pet rat to roam freely around the apartment.
But the pluck stops here.
A Drama Queen meets an insect—and all bets are off. I talk her through this crisis. I tell her what I would do—aim the heaviest book in the house, and stomp on it—which she does while I listen from California. And afterwards, we share giggly hysteria over our hysteria.
Call me crazy—but I’d be happy with a wake-up call like this every day.