When I was little, there wasn't a lot of spontaneous playful time with my mom. I don't recall ever being bitter about it -- it was simply my reality, being the sixth of seven kids of parents who worked very long hours.
However, one fourth of July many, many years ago, I asked my mom if we could go see fireworks and she (no doubt surrounded by dishes and laundry and bills and countless other things) surprised me by saying "OK, let's get in the car."
A few of us piled into the old station wagon and my mom zipped towards the Charles River, not caring the least bit that we were driving towards swarms of people who had been camped out for hours to get a good seat. But per usual, by some miracle she found the perfect spot and we all clamored on top of the car and watched in awe as fireworks lit up the Boston sky.
Fast forward about 30 years...
Yesterday we didn't have a plan for fireworks -- the downtown ones were too late for Laurel and we figured hey, last year some dudes shot off a bunch of fireworks right on our street and that was pretty convenient. But as night fell and our street remained silent Laurel started to look worried. Jon and I reminded her that there weren't any planned fireworks on our street -- we just had to see what happened and it may mean she wouldn't see any fireworks that night.
And then I heard a boom. It wasn't on our street but it sounded nearby. I grabbed Laurel and told Jon that we'd be right back and we walked outside. But I couldn't see what direction the fireworks were coming from and I admittedly also felt a little vulnerable wandering around on foot without knowing where we were headed with my sweet little girl (some other stuff went down this weekend that is making me feel especially protective of her).
So we went back to the house. I told Jon that I wanted to take a drive around the neighboring towns to see if we could find the fireworks and that we'd be back in time so I could nurse Vi. He (and I) both felt that this was a bit of a wild goose chase, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I had to find fireworks.
Laurel and I hopped into the car and were off. And within minutes she was yelling, "Mama, I see them in the sky!" And within a couple more minutes, we were parked, out of the car, and sitting at a safe distance but with the best seats in the house.
There we sat, side by side on a rock -- my tall, willowy girl so grown up in so many ways yet still so little in others. At one point she wrapped her arms around me and said, "Mom, thanks so much for taking me out to find the fireworks. That meant a lot to me." I hugged her tight and said "You're welcome. I know. I'm so happy we found them."
And then I searched and searched my memory...trying to reconstruct the one round of live fireworks I ever watched with my mom, some 30 years ago. I hope so much that I told her how much it meant to me.