Jake usually calls me from work before he makes the daring drive home from downtown. After I hung up the phone today, Ellie asked me why I always tell Daddy to drive safe, "even if it's not snowing or raining or even if there's no tornado?" (Obviously, I need to have a conversation with her about her fears of the weather.) I gave her a totally lame explanation, but I was reminded of some enlightenment I recently experienced.
I remember an incident during my late teens, when I was at the height of my wisdom and maturity, getting upset with my mom because she had told me to drive safely. For the millionth time. And I was, technically, an adult. Also, it wasn't like I was going to drive unsafely on purpose. What a stupid thing to say. I'm sure some of you have had either a similar rant, or at least thought when you, too, were a mature and knowledgeable teenager. I think my mom said something to the effect that she was my mother and if she felt like she needed to tell me to be careful, then she was going to tell me to be careful. She totally put me in my place, but I really didn't get it at the time.
A few weeks ago, as Jake was leaving for his daily brave ascent into the city, I told hime to drive safely. It was then that things finally clicked. I realized that my mom was really saying, "I love you," every time she told me to drive safely. You see, my mom being Japanese and, on top of that, staunchly Japanese, she rarely explicitly expressed any emotion. I knew that's what she meant because that's what I mean when I tell Jake to drive safely. That's what I mean when I say many of the things that I say to my children.
That was my moment of love and enlightenment on this day after Valentine's.
Some random but somewhat related thoughts:
1. I crashed my car a week and a half ago. It was during a major snow storm. No one was injured. I probably could have avoided the accident, but, in my defense, no one told me to drive safe before I left the house.
2. In "The Princess Bride," Ellie figured out immediately that the Dread Pirate Roberts was really Westley. I think that when I saw it for the first time, I didn't figure that out until he actually took off his mask. I think I was 12 years old, too.
3. When Jake says, "Honey, I'm just really full," it really means, "Honey, your cooking really blows tonight."
4. When my kids say, "I love you, Mommy," it usually means they either just got something they wanted or they are about to get something they wanted. Either way, I'll take it.