Fantasy vs. Reality

"Reality is the name we give to our disappointments." – Mason Cooley

My mother emails me nearly every day to tell me nothing more than “Love you, how are things and have a good day”. She will email me bits of family news if there are any but for the most part its just sweet nothing sent to me via email.

I tease her if she forgets and tell her that it ruined my day.  We chuckle about it. I appreciate it. It’s like your mom leaving you a little note in your lunch box for school.

I also talk to my mom at least once a week and we catch up on family events, my siblings, weather, my father’s health and more.  Sometimes our calls are lengthy and philosophical. Other times, our calls are short and direct.

Regardless, I appreciate the calls and the emails. I have had more than my share of drama in the past year and it’s nice to have my mom just checking on me here and there. She lives about sixty miles south of me and I get to visit only a few times a month.

Yesterday, during a regular phone call the conversation was about how my sons were adjusting to their new school, our new schedule, and changes in our home environment. We talked at length about my youngest son’s separation anxiety, my oldest sons identifying a “girlfriend” already and as well as my youngest son’s recent bout of fresh behavior.

After we had covered all the son topics, my mother says “And how is the Little Miss?”

I was confused.

“Little Miss?” I ask.

“Yeah, M (my daughter). How is she? Have you heard from her?” Mom asks.

“Oh, right.” I answer.

I proceed to share latest news with my mother on my daughter, her return to school, details of our last email exchange, and the challenges I have had with same.

Mom offers up some supportive advice and thoughts. She talks about me at that age. We had a nice chat about the Little Miss.

Two things struck me about this conversation.

Historically, my mother has consistently called my daughter by her original name. This has bothered me and I used to regularly correct my mother. It was viewed as denial by me. Specifically, I saw it as my mother’s inability to acknowledge that my daughter had been lost to adoption and was given a new name and a new mommy. Calling her by our name, her original name seemed highly inappropriate.

She didn’t say that name this time. Of course, she did not say her amended name either but I still took it as progress. In our family it’s not uncommon to refer to children as Little This or Little That. My youngest son is often called “Little Bugger” or “Little Man”.

To me, based on her tone, it was a term of endearment towards my daughter and genuine concern.

Beyond that, what struck me was the casualness with which my mother and I discussed her. It was normal. Like she was part of the family, here with me every day and Mom was just checking in on my entire family.

It was really odd for me. I imagined, outright felt, that this conversation could have and would have been held with that much ease even if my daughter was really here.

Maybe, in some odd way, in some parallel universe she was and is.

Maybe she was even thinking of us at that moment.