Back when I was a child, my mother received regular mail (you know–the kind that comes via the “mail lady” and had a stamp on it) from my great grandmother. (Yes, the great grandmother of the recipe cards.) This mail often mystified me with its lack of SOMETHING. You see, often there were clippings from the newspaper–recipes and obituaries. Sometimes there was a wedding or baby announcement or someone got an award. There’d be a note with my great grandmother’s fascinating-to-me handwriting. It often mentioned relatives I maybe hadn’t met or someone my mother had been friends with in school or a church lady friend of my great grandmother.
Sometimes there was other types of commentary–a bible study, a book, the doings of someone’s child, grandchild, my mother’s siblings. Then there was advice–baking, cooking, child-rearing, housekeeping. I rather wish my mother had kept these notes. As far as I know she didn’t. They were ordinary. Sure, a newspaper clipping here and there exists–but those ordinary notes do not.
There were also Sunday phone calls. These didn’t exist as much when I was super young. Long-distance was pricey. I do remember being put on the phone to speak to Nini. Yes m’am. No m’am. It was all very scripted in a way. I am sure Nini wanted more…but take a child who has trouble speaking anywhere without a “script” especially the phone, talking to a woman who couldn’t just see day-to-day life on my end; add a wee bit….ok a lot…of proper manners and decorum and you have a quick stilted conversation. I like to think that if Nini had lived longer that I would have eventually gotten the hang of it. I know that isn’t true though. I loved to speak to her in person (even if I was warned about my uterus falling out, the need to get a husband, and a lot of Nini correcting my mother on how I should learn my place.) Nini fascinated me. She still does.
Oh my, I have rambled a bit…now I will get back to my original topic. I realized yesterday that I communicate with my son the way Nini did with my mother. No, I don’t send him random newspaper clippings to college. I instead will send him a link on Facebook that I think will interest him. I will text him with random observations about his siblings, the pets, our family life. The newspaper clippings are now hyperlinks. The notes now text or gchat. The love? The recognition that a parent thinks of her child all the time and in particular when something feels like that child–the same.
It’s not just boy child–though he’s the best at communicating via Facebook/gchat/text. Last week, I started texting the girlchild in Philly. I’d seen the early graphics. (Yes, I am a weather geek and get the NHC feed in my reader.) “Do you have a flashlight? Blankets? Water? I am serious! What do you mean you are scheduled to work? STAY AWAY FROM THE RIVER!” She rolled her eyes. She knew that I know she’s an adult. She knew it was me saying, “I love you but I need to fuss and reiterate the lessons I taught you growing up.” But then, she did text her other mom today and ask about her hissing radiator in the apartment. I quickly conveyed my handyman knowledge via her other mom. (ok so I googled to double check)
My children may not get the handwritten notes in the mail. I really ought to send them some just so they can save them. But, long-distance parenting of adult children really hasn’t changed that much.
One day soon Johnny Mac Pippin will be put on the phone to have a stilted conversation with his grandmothers. He will roll his eyes when he’s called to the phone. (or computer) Right now, we just get to Facetime with him and he is young enough that no matter what he does–it is perfect. I suspect it always will be…because yes, that’s what grandmas think. We just want to hear the voice and see the wee ones.