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“Why Didn’t You Text Me?” Worrying About My…Aging Parents?

I asked her to text me when she got there.

Four letters. H-O-M-E. That’s it. She should be home by now. I glance at the clock.  Yep, she should definitely be home. The grace period is over. I dial; she picks up.

“You were supposed to text me when you got there,” I say with a definite edge to my voice.

“Oh, I forgot.” Duh.

I’m waiting for the, “It’s not a big deal,” but it doesn’t come—mainly because she’s not 17. It’s not in her vernacular, and she’s not my daughter. She’s 74, and she’s my mom.

You read that right—my mom. Just when I thought I was done “parenting” the newest driver in my house, my parents arrived to spend a month in Cleveland. It was a great idea. Having rented their own place ten minutes away, they could come and go as they pleased, watch various sporting events with us, take a walk, grab a coffee—all of the things that we’ve missed out on for 27 years. What I gravely underestimated (in the I-didn’t-estimate-at-all way) was the worry factor.

“Of course we’re home—we left your house 30 minutes ago. We’ve been home for a while.” Yeah, I know, cause I’ve been worrying for “a while.”

“Yeah—just wanted to make sure you got there,” I say. I want to add, “Mothers worry, right?” I wanted to say, “Just wait until you’re a …” Oh wait, she is.

“Where else would we be?” she asks in a tone that makes me wonder if I’m talking to my son. Snark runs deep in our family.

Admittedly, my worry makes no sense. FOR YEARS, in a land far, far away, all week long, my parents come and go at their leisure. I used to go days without talking to them—maybe even a week.

But in this new world, I’m worked up if it’s 9 a.m., and I haven’t talked to them yet.

I picture their apartment with its narrow stairs. Did one of them fall down the stairs? Did the other hear it? What if they both fell down? OMG—my mind is on a runaway train, and I need to pull the emergency break to stop the synapses from firing.

I recall our trips back and forth from Pennsylvania to Cleveland. “Just call us when you get home,” they’d ask as we hugged goodbye. I never quite got it.

Until Zach started driving. Until my parents started their extended stay 10 minutes away. I get it now. PLEASE don’t even make me list the crazy that my head can weave in four seconds flat. It’s impressive. And, I inherited it.

“You’ll always be my baby,” my mom used to say. “I’ll always worry about you.”

Really? Why? Wasn’t there anything better for her to do?

Lucky me—now I know there isn’t.

Stephanie Schaeffer Silverman is publisher of Your Teen Magazine.

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