No Help Needed: A Mother’s Chagrin

Piles are growing in the basement. Like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice’s* magic broom and mop, splitting and multiplying nonstop, items seem to appear that weren’t there minutes ago. 

A scene, I imagine, similar to dens, living rooms, front halls, basements, and garages in countless homes across the nation.

A new foam mattress topper. A new mattress pad.  New clothes.  New boots.  Stacks of fresh laundry. Towels. Pillows.  A tennis racquet waiting to be restrung. New tennis sneakers. The guitar.  The winter coat and sweaters packed from the dry cleaners. Extra hangers. A fan.  Duffle bags soon to be filled.

And my stomach is starting to ache.

My daughter is returning to college  in two days.   I offered to drive the nine hours to Ohio with her and fly back. This year, she wants to take herself; there’s not enough room in the car for either a friend with his things or me. So I won’t  make her bed; a ritual I felt left a “mom loves you stamp” in her room. It made saying goodbye easier.

Her freshman year, we drove her in the old mini-van.  We set up her room, (I made her bed), and hung towel bars and a mirror.

Last year, we each took three hour shifts at the wheel and again helped her unpack.  And I made her bed.

I remember seeing the television movie “Eleanor & Franklin” years ago. 

Jane Alexander played the First Lady. At one point, when their six offspring were dashing out, she said, “we’re always saying goodbye to the children.”

The line stuck, though I didn’t have any kids of my own then.

I know how she felt.

*Disney’s  1940 Fantasia


About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. ( I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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12 Responses to No Help Needed: A Mother’s Chagrin

  1. Nathan says:

    We already decided that Uri is never leaving us!


    • Barbara W. Klein says:

      Good thinking! Hope he doesn’t have ideas of his own. Time for a hug, so bring him up here. Love and kisses, Grandma


  2. Barbara W. Klein says:

    Lydia looks fantastic. Lovely dress. Reminds me of your first year at Vassar when your roommates mother and I bumped behinds, making your beds. What goes around, comes around.
    Love Mom.


  3. Madeline Taylor says:

    I teared up….


  4. Yeah, yeah. Thanks fam, for reading and commenting.


  5. Madeline Taylor says:

    Ruby can leave; we’ll just occupy the dorm room adjacent to hers!


  6. Leah says:

    I love that line! I’ll have to remember that one.


  7. Naomi says:

    I think the youngest child leaving must be the hardlest to deal with.


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