Moms are like that

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 12, 2001

When I was a little girl, we didn't have seat belts in our old green station wagon.

It was the day before booster seats and child safety seats, too.

So on the days when I, the youngest, tooled around town and country with Mama in the car, I was ensconced right by her side.

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If someone pulled out in front of her-out went her right arm, thrust rigidly across my small body as if to shield it from harm.

Years passed, new vehicles with safety belts were purchased; I grew into a teenager.

Old habits die hard, however.

Mom would be driving us somewhere, there would be a need for a sudden stop, and-WHAPP! Out would come that arm right across my 14-year-old chest. "Mama," I would wail in the annoying fashion only adolescent girls can do, "I'm NOT a little kid, anymore!"

"Oh, honey, I'm sorry, just a mother's natural instincts," she'd blithely reply.

I think it was at least another 20 years before I stopped encountering The Arm on a routine basis.

(Even if I was the driver, I'd get it in reverse-left arm flailing before me.)

Moms, you see, are like that.

They do their darndest to protect their chicks from harm-even if the offspring flew the coop long before.

As a staff writer for the paper, I frequently work odd hours. Covering evening happenings' may mean it's well after dark before I make it home over our "out -in-the-boonies" dirt road.

Mama, who is also my closest neighbor, isn't too keen on this.

I can tell by her voice.

Y'all know, THAT


What it doesn't say in actual words, it speaks volumes through its subtle nuances.

"Well, dear, I hope you don't have to work too late." (Translation: You need to get yourself home, young lady, at a decent hour, before those axe murderers start roaming around out there.

You can never be too careful.)

This means when my mom is available and able, she often comes along to some of the events I cover.

It gets her out of the house, around people (she loves that), and most importantly-she can keep an eye on ME.

Oh, it's not that she doesn't trust me-I mean, she brought me up proper and all-it's just that one of her favorite activities is worrying about me.

This is another thing I've learned about moms: if there's nothing obvious to worry about concerning their children, often they will invent something.

Moms have incredible imaginations.

I do have a chronic illness that causes me a great deal of pain, moments of mental confusion and often puts me through long and sleepless nights. It's called Fibromyalgia Syndrome, FMS for short, but my mom likes to refer to it as my "problem."

Now let me say this is not a life-threatening condition. Unpleasant, an extreme nuisance at times, but it won't kill me.

This has not stopped my mom in the past from speculating that I have suffered my sudden demise, shuffled off the old mortal coil, bought the farm, et al. when she calls my home and I don't answer the phone when I apparently am at home.

After she nearly broke down my door one day, trying to make her way in and revive me-I had not slept the night before and had finally drifted into a deep sleep unaware of any ringing phone in the house-we decided to call a truce and try to make sure we knew one another's schedules.

She knows there's a good chance of a bad' night for me at least two or three nights a week, and she doesn't panic if the answering machine kicks in. If I am going to be gone, I let her know, and vice-versa.

The funny thing is, after all those years of feeling over-protected at times, I find myself doing the same thing now-to my mother.

"Wait, Mama.

There's a car coming.

Here, take my hand, the ground here's uneven."

"Y'all give me a call when you get back so I'll know you're OK."

"Do you really think you ought to be doing that by yourself, young lady? That could be dangerous."

Well, bless her, she's tried awfully hard to look out for me over these 40 years.

It's simply time for me to return the favor.

Cause mamas-and daughters-are like that, you know.