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Sentimental Journey

My family and I recently traveled to the Midwest to attend the wedding of my youngest brother. The other brothers and I rented a big house in the woods so that all of the young cousins could be together and make noise and have some fun. There were no major meltdowns by either grownups or children and, aside from the occasional “Mom, he’s bugging me,” the weekend was lovely.

This was no easy trick because, for my brothers and I, it was quite literally the first time in 25 years that we’ve all slept under the same roof at the same time. It was like stepping into the Twilight Zone.

Suddenly I was 16 years old again, minus the zits and gauze shirts. I was trying to impress my older brothers with my maturity one minute then impress the younger with my wacky antics the next. The whole time my children watched me with a look that said, “Uh, mom? Mommy? Are you OK? Why are you acting so weird? Daddy, what’s wrong with Mommy?”

But I just can’t help it and, truth is, I’m not sure I want to. When I get together with my siblings, I am, for a while, not just my children’s mother or my husband’s wife. I am my brothers’ sister and my parents’ daughter, roles that had long ago been packed away with my high school yearbook and the culottes I made in Home Ec.

And while I’m proud of who I’ve become independent of those roles, I was comfortable in them for oh-so-many years. Getting them out and dusting them off once in a while helps me remember parts of my life that I simply don’t make the time to remember anymore.

It helps my kids, too. It humanizes me a little to them, which I can’t help but think relieves a little pressure. It shows them a side of their mommy that they’ll likely never see anywhere else: their mom as something other than their mom. They see that I had a life before them, that I was young once, too.

And they get a glimpse of what it will mean later on to have brothers and sisters. All of the competition and bickering and fighting will one day give way to friendship…with just a little competition and bickering and fighting. 

I remember being younger, watching my mother with her siblings at our annual Thanksgiving reunion. As the women gathered in the kitchen cooking dinner, my mother listened adoringly to her older sisters as though to absorb every moment. Her brothers always made their way home and to watch her face light up as they entered the lodge was, at the time, indescribable.

Now I know what it was. She, my mother, was 16 again, in the presence of her beloved siblings.

Her face still lights up, at 70 years old, when her remaining brother comes home. And she still looks for advice to her big sister, at 85, because, really, who else would know best? When my mom is with my aunt, she’s young again. Young, innocent, and hopeful. To recapture that time, even once in a while, is a gift I’ll not likely ever give up.

This Thanksgiving will hopefully find at least some of us together again, and those who won’t physically be at my house will be on the phone after dinner. Once again I’ll be allowed to dust off those roles that are still so fresh from the wedding and revel in the comfort of my family. The kids will run around and play and make the grownups crazy, and every once in a while we might even hear, “Mom, he’s bugging me!”

Maybe this time, it’ll be from one of the kids.                                         

Maggie Lamond Simone is a book author, award-winning writer and mother of two living in Baldwinsville. Reach her at maggiesimone@verizon.net.

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