I have not been feeling well this week and I was grateful my kids had plans with their grandparents Monday evening. I was lying in bed watching TV with wonderful Husband S when the phone rang with a call from Tall Daughter E. My peace and quiet having been disrupted, I was not feeling nurturing as I answered the phone.
“Mom, guess what?” Good lord, what trivial thing has she called me about knowing that I am trying to rest? That part stayed in my head, what came out was an impatient sounding, “What?”
“Baby belugas, mom, I see a baby beluga. A real life one.” She and my dad were going fishing near Girdwood and were driving by a spot called Beluga Point on Turnagain Arm. It is a beautiful spot along Cook Inlet where you can, indeed, see beluga whales at the right time of year if you are lucky. We’ve seen whales there before, but never a baby. She went on to describe it to me.
Now understand that in general I am not a fan of children’s music. When my girls were toddlers I saw no reason why they could not listen to the Beatles or CSN&Y or Billie Holliday along with me. Many of their lullabies are old folk songs or Beatles tunes. I saw no reason why I should subject myself to more earworms than I already got from Sesame Street. But there was one exception, Tall Daughter learned Raffi’s “Baby Beluga” in kindergarten and I liked it. It was the one piece of kiddie music we listened to and we sang it together often.
At her age, it would have taken a death threat to get me to call my mother to remind her of a pleasant childhood memory we shared. I would have only brought something like that up if I could frame it ironically. But here she is, so excited that her wildlife encounter echoes this memory that she took time out to call me instead of just telling me about it when she got home like she usually would. I felt simultaneously touched and ashamed for having been so annoyed.
Like many many other mothers, I sometimes feel like a failure as a parent. Tall Daughter is so difficult to motivate that I sometimes despair. But here was a moment when I knew that I was doing something right. She may not grow into my vision for her, but we have a closeness that not even adolescence can shake. And adolescence is very trying indeed, for both of us. I should appreciate this bond more and reframe “needy” as “loving”.
A few weeks ago our minister spoke on moments of grace, even for non-theists like me. In this small moment I felt grace, and gratitude, and humility.