I was watching Dreamgirls on Friday night. There’s a five second bit….part of a montage that moves the plot along….where Deena (Beyoncé) is leaving home to be a back up singer for James Early (Eddie Murphy). She places a note on the table beside her mother who is sleeping on the couch, waiting up for her.
I’ve always rooted for the leaver. I’ve always sided with the one who knows what she wants (even when she actually doesn’t want what she thinks she wants) and makes the big move. (“She’s leaving home, bye bye!”) And I still am. But I realized when I saw that, that I’m now, in reality, the leavee. Potential leavee. I’m now the mother sleeping on the couch waiting for a daughter to come home. Not that anyone’s sneaking out right now. But somewhere along the way, the universe flipped on me and I’m the mom character. I can’t ever be the daughter character again (Unless it’s the grown daughter caught between her own mother and her young daughter). And a part of me has known that for awhile. All the actresses around my age (Jodie Foster, Diane Lane, Tatum O’Neal, etc), who I’ve watched grow up with me…they’ve been playing mothers for a while. So, I don’t know why I’m just now realizing this. Denial. You know it; I know it.
But there was something about that note leaving, that sneaking off to seek fame and fortune, that leaving the security and comfort of home – home that that mother provided – that hit me in a place that is sore now, if I touch it. A vulnerable spot kinda located underneath my ribcage.
This whole passing of time kind of sucks because even though you’re there for every single second of it, every tick of the second hand moving around the clock dial, you only really notice the passage in big lurches. They’re marked out by events – first this, last that, report cards, drastic hair cuts, dances, graduations.
I’ve got a form in front of me, that I’ve been carrying around for a week, that I need to fill out. I have to write a dedication for Red’s final elementary yearbook. In a few months, she’ll be off to middle school. I have to somehow come up with something to say. I have to find the right baby photo and stick $5 in an envelope. How many more years before she’s leaving me that note? Five? Eight? Hopefully never. Hopefully, she’ll tell me before hand and I can help her pack. Not that I want her to go but….well, you have to let them go eventually. Unless she’s actually serious about being a professional crazy cat lady. In which case, we probably need to have a couple of conversations. Very soon.
And Dusty’s champing at bit to go to high school. We have a couple more weeks before we find out where she’ll be going but either way, she’s golden. She was born in the year of the Golden Dragon making her especially lucky. This has so far turned out to be the case. So, if she gets into the high school we’re crossing our fingers for, I might be seeing a whole lot less of her. No notes will be left but maybe I’ll get emails. Maybe texts.
Either way, if I can no longer be the girl with dreams leaving the note in the middle of the night, I don’t want to be the mother caught off-guard. I don’t like those kind of surprises.