April 3, 2015

Have fun with Mom, but I get her back

Dear Gillian,

Oh, to be in Portland right now. Not just to give you a big hug or to tussle with Evie and Briton. But also to be on the receiving end of a knowing glance from your Mom.

I’m not jealous, but I do miss Cecile when she is on the road. The house seems too quiet when the only foot treads are the clicking of Greta’s paws. Watching television alone makes me feel guilty that I’m not doing something worthwhile. I cook for myself, but it is less fun when no one else enjoys the flavors. 

Her company is lucky to have such a talented, considerate and loyal executive who is also willing to fly across the country for it. But we are doubly lucky when work takes her close enough to gather those hugs and kisses in Portland.

And I become a horrible slob.

When Cecile is here, I really try to clean up after myself and do my share of housework. But when there is no one around to please, it is all to easy to say “I’ll pick that up later” or “That pan isn’t that dirty.”

Within a few days, our tidy house looks like a guy’s dorm room.

Before it smells like a dorm room, however, the Ghost of All Nagging Mothers Past visits me – almost always late at night. I crash around snatching up piles of plates, discarded T-shirts and the detritus of temporary bachelorhood. I mutter to myself and swear on a stack of two-day-old newspapers that I’ll be neater next time. But that’s more like wishful thinking than a vow.

Thank goodness we have Hannah come on Fridays to do the real cleaning. Your Mom usually gets back late enough that I can take credit for the sparkling countertops.

Hannah’s vacuum may lack its usual magic this week, though. Mom gets to enjoy finding Easter eggs with the kids, so I will have Saturday and Sunday to resist the mess-making temptation. Focus Clyde, focus.

I really should have this down pat by now. Being apart has been a regular part of our married life. Our jobs take us wherever our expertise is needed, so one of us is traveling every few weeks. It was more traumatic at first because communications were so limited. We had to meter out our expensive long-distance phone calls and tuck notes into suitcases for want of text messaging.

Now we keep in touch throughout the day with little notes that pop up on our iPhones even if we are in meetings. Email takes care of the longer messages. And each evening we call each other before going to bed – or even do a Facetime video conference.

But all the technology in the world cannot replace the one you love. I thank my lucky stars that I can be lonely. Only a heart that is shared can feel emptiness; only hearts reunited can fully understand the power of love.

Give Mom a big hug for me tonight. Watch for that special twinkle in her eyes and the dimples that make you as happy as she is. Make cookies and make memories. And please take care of her.

Her next trip is back to me.