Stop and Smell the Lattes

“Two hemp milk lattes,” the barista calls into the din of the busy bakery.

After my twenty-something daughter and I carefully get our precious warm beverages back to our bench seats at the old farm table in the middle of the restaurant, a smile blooms on her utterly beautiful face and she inhales the light vanilla scent of her latte. Her eyes float closed.

“Thanks Mom.”

“You betcha baby.” I sip the bitter creamy coffee into my mouth and feel an almost instant lift. “I can see why people crave this drink.”

“Mmmm…yes I do,” she says opening her eyes smiling good naturedly. Maybe a little too quick I ask the question that’s been on my mind.

“How’s it going with Sabastian?” Her smile falters and her eyes get moist, and I know I could have come at this a little slower and easier.

“He’s a good guy, he really is Mom.” She’s trying to convince herself. “That broken leg he got in boot camp still hasn’t healed, and the military won’t even give him medical insurance, let alone any compensation for being less able to work.”

“He’s working with his dad, right?” I ask. She nods and squeezes her eyes against the tears.

“Yeah, but it’s not what he hoped for. He dreamed of being a Marine. He wanted to get badass strong; thought he’d have an adventurous world travel kind of life, but here he is back where he grew up.”

“That has to suck bad for him.” She only nods, so I continue. “How’s it between you two? You’re both working now, instead of finishing college, right?” She nods, and I exhale, relieved the question about college didn’t ruffle her.

“We’ll get back to it when we’re ready to focus. It would be a waste of money now.”

“Yeah, I get it. I waited a LONG time.”

“I won’t wait THAT long Mom.”

“I hope not. Twenty year degrees are expensive.” We’re talking school, but that’s not what’s on her mind. She’s not one to complain, but I know she’s unhappy. At 22 she’s starting to consider her life.

“He slouches on our stained couch, blurry-eyed joy-sticking the hell out of the Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty.”

“Awesome use of the language dude,” I kid her, imitating the Robin Williams’ Fern Gully cartoon character. She smiles, then continues.

“He never wants to go out anymore, let alone go on a hike or mountain bike. When he gets home from work he chomps down the dinner I make, gets high, watches TV then falls asleep on the couch.”

“Whoohoo,” I say whipping my fist in the air.

“Seriously Mom.”

“Well it is HIS life.” She nods and I continue. “Tons of people have ideas about how their partners should live. You could be one of those types.” She nods and says nothing. “Your dad didn’t want to do the things I wanted either. I got frustrated, and he got the torture of not being enough for me. It would be easy to say: He should be more active, he should want to have sex, but really, I was the unhappy one. And I shamed him too. Looking back on it, I was critical bitch.” She laughs. “You could keep wishing he’d be different…for the rest of your life even. It’s the way of our species.” She purses her lips and does a little head wobble, making fun o of me. She knows one of my mom stories is coming.

“You went to the grocery store and picked up milk, instead of the orange juice you really wanted.”

“What?”

“Seriously people do it all the time. They think, “Damn I sure want some orange juice.” Then they go to the refrigerator section and pick up some milk instead. You think I’m kidding, but they bring home the dairy, then blame it for being white. They say, “Damn can’t you be a little more orange? If you loved me you would try to be just a little more pulpy, or just a bit more tangy.” There’s a little light in my daughter’s eyes and she raises her gaze to mine and I continue. “But you know my dear, the poor milk can’t be anything but well, milk.”

“I get it Mom.”

“I was just trying to be entertaining. People waste so much time, energy and love trying to change each other. You want to know why? It’s hard to leave. Staying is in our DNA. It’s a survival thing.” She nods.

“No matter how long you stay, I’ll try not to be weird to him. I get why you stay. I tortured your dad for 17 years.”

“You broke his heart,” she agrees.

“I did,” I admit, thinking about how the man who tried for nearly two decades to make me happy. I remember how he looked when I told him I was leaving. It’s quiet for a while so I continue. “It didn’t have to go like that, though I did get you out of the deal. And that young man gets the joy of wonderful you. You on the other hand, get sucky him.”

“He doesn’t suck Mom.”

“He does for you.” She nods.

“Leaving. Changing. Moving out. None of it is easy. But this could be your one beautiful life. And you’re never going to be as young as you are right now. And, that beautiful light that shines from you, don’t take it for granted. Years of unhappiness…dulls and stupefies the once lovely gift you were to the world, and who you were to yourself.” She nods.

“You could wait until your titties hang and your va-jay-jay shrivels. Yeah, leave him then!”

“Mom…”

“Time keeps on, while you blame him for not being what you want. Lots of people do it though. Here’s another option: You get your young booty to the store and get you some orange juice!”

Cheers lovelies! To getting you some.

Love and lettuce,
Kathryn

For Molly, Mariya, and Liss