“Hey, Mom. What are you doing?”
“Hey, Knight. Not much. Sitting on my deck, drinking coffee.”
“See, that’s what I am aiming to do, but first I had to take the empty water glasses from my bedside table down to the kitchen and put them in the dishwasher, but the dishwasher was full, so then I had to unload it, and then I wanted to listen to music while I unloaded the dishwasher, but my computer was all seized up so I had to reboot it first, and so I went ahead and started on the dishes while the reboot was in progress, and then I got sort of frustrated…”
“Yes, well, I have dirty dishes and the counter should be wiped down, but I went outside so I don’t have to look at it.”
“That’s you, Mom. I am a little more neurotic than that.”
“You are, yes.”
“Also, my real issue is that I started the day by fighting with Lily. And even though she’s 10 and I know it’s hormones and it’s normal and all that, still, ugh, kill me.”
“She misses you and wants some time with you.”
We talked for 132 minutes more, my mother and I.
We talked about my clean kitchen and growing daughter, about her clean-ish kitchen and grown-ish daughter.
We discussed our parenting styles – they are naturally very similar – and those of our friends. We aren’t big “rules people”, but we are big on conversation. (Let me explain all the reasons you should do what I’m asking you (not telling you) to do. In fact, I’ll explain it until you do it just to get me to stop talking…)
Our relationships – with friends and family members, marriage (her) and dating (me). We value a combination of intimacy and independence and have very close relationships with people we may not see that often. A lot of people would be driven crazy by the lack of structure in our relationships, but we feel a lot of freedom in them.
Our professions – why we’ve invested so much time in them, how they’ve shaped us as mothers and providers, and how my daughter (growing up in a politically conservative, socially traditional Nashville suburb) will be shaped by a career-minded mother.
Our mutual friends and people we’ve known for decades: The one who is as fun and wildly emotional as his mother. The one who is as much a steely business woman as hers. The one whose mom watched baseball games with a stat book in hand. Gender roles, role reversals, ambiguity and androgyny.
Our approach to conflict: Speak the truth, speak it sweetly.
Religion. Sexuality. Weekend plans. Annoying Facebook habits.
The big things and the small.
When my daughter gets home from school today, she’ll have a circumspect mother offering to bake cupcakes with her.
It will take us at least 132 minutes.