A couple of weeks ago, my parents came from across the country to visit. We had a baseball game that night, but we had the cell, and were waiting to hear from them when they got to the T station so we could pick them up (they always take the Silver Line from the airport). Their plane got in at 5, and at around 6:30 or so, we started wondering. Still wondering an hour later. An hour after that, not really worried but really wondering, we were milling around the house doing this or that, when Owen looked out the window and said, “I see them!”
Sure enough, there they were, having hiked uphill the 3 ½ miles from the T station with their backpacks. They came marching in, demanding supper, not even puffing. My dad’s 78 and my mom’s 77, and by gum, don’t I come from hearty stock??
The next day, after the boys’ music lessons, all of us (sans my Beau, who unfortunately had to work) piled in the femmemobile to go down to Connecticut to a hotel near the Mashantucket Pequot Museum, which we were going to visit the next day. It’s a fabulous place and we had visited many years ago before it was completed. (My mom’s an archeologist, and she has it on good authority that there was no budget limit whatsoever on this museum – the Pequot tribe run Foxwoods Casino – so it is the finest interpretive museum of Native Americans anywhere in the country. If you visit, which you should, and set aside at least a day, prepare to be amazed!)
The whole way down, my dad sat in the back and lectured the boys, like he used to do to me on road trips. He’s a philosophy professor, and he was testing their math and logic skills, and finding out what they’re doing in school, talking about history, what he’s been reading, what they’ve been reading. My mom and I sat in front, me driving and smiling to myself, her navigating and smiling to herself.
At the hotel, even though it was late, the pool was still open, so of course, the boys had to go. I didn’t get in myself, but sat on the edge with my feet in the water, and eventually became, through no fault of my own, part of the game of tag the boys were playing. They would rush around the pool laughing and gasping, then one of them would fling himself on my leg, shouting, “Mom’s base! Mom’s base!”
I kept thinking about being base, about mom being base, for days after our hotel stay. In the life-sized model of a Pequot village before the Europeans came, there’s a little boy on the roof of one of the wigwams, playing with his dog, and on the guided tour earphone thing it has the mom scolding gently, “Haven’t I told you not to climb on the roof? Come down from there!” Even if you didn’t have the earphone, you would be able to tell what she’s saying in Pequot – basic momspeak.
I never put it that way, but I’ve always thought of my mom as base, as a vast and varied source of knowledge (I’m always putting aside things I want to ask her), a source of history and gentle direction on how to be a good person. She has the most amazing memory: she can remember things she learned in her zoology class as an undergrad, grammar from high school, the names of kids in her first grade class.
I am a very different kind of person, but it makes me feel proud and humble to think I am base to my own kids, the way my mom is base to me. Part of the great sweep of generations, passing on the knowledge of our family to the own little fruits of my heart (only one of them is technically the fruit of my womb).
No matter how they join our families, we moms love our babies into being, and stay base, rock solid, holding them in our arms until they venture away and back, away and back, and finally, away. But if we’re lucky – as my mom and I are, as I hope my boys and I will be – even if they’re completely away, they always come back.
For mombian/blogging for LGBT Families Day 2009