Lessons Learned Last Weekend From My Mom

Who better to spend the weekend with than my 82-year-old mother and hip sister? We had initial plans to sleep at my mom's, go out for lunch, go out for dinner and after breakfast in the morning, leave for New York City and go to an art museum.

This is what we did instead.

We met at my mother's apartment and went to the supermarket to pick up a picnic lunch. Mom loved pushing the cart as we went up and down the aisles trying to decide what to eat. Soup? Sushi? Sandwiches?

We made our selections, checked out and, since my mother lives near the water, drove to the beach. The winds were howling on this below-freezing day, so we stayed in the car, watched the waves and shared stories that have transformed to family folklore. We tried to push conversation to the present... but sometimes, reminiscing can be so delicious.

Late afternoon, we headed to Starbucks. While sipping concoctions of lattés and macchiatos, we agreed to kibosh the dinner reservation at a local restaurant. Our updated itinerary was revised: pick up take-out, return to my mother's place and get into our pajamas. It was one of the best decisions we made all day.

Mom's apartment, a former classroom in a renovated elementary school, was homey, with lamps gently lit with 40-watt bulbs. My sister's and my visit brought out her 1960's housewife charm as she threw on a red apron with big gingham pockets and set the same table at which we ate most of our meals while growing up. The plates reminded me of dinners in our old house, and looking around the living room, I could imagine my father (who had passed away 27 years ago this month) sitting on the sofa. Each clang of the grandfather clock reminded me of being a little girl.

As we ate dinner, I looked at my mother and sister and wondered, "Why don't we do this more frequently?"

"Being with you girls fortifies me," Mom said during dessert. The reunion was equally as bolstering for my sister and me.

On Sunday afternoon as we hugged and kissed before leaving, my mom said, "Don't worry about me. I'll keep busy the rest of the afternoon. I'll be fine."

I realized when I left that she was saying this to comfort herself, as in, "I am loving every second of being with my daughters. I will miss you when you leave."

Perhaps it was being in a classroom-redux-apartment that made me later think about lessons learned over the weekend.

1. Treasure the special moments.

2. Slumber parties, at any age, are fun.

3. Be patient with your elderly parents. Lend them an elbow. Lend them a hand.

4. Shine your mother's silver if it needs to be shined.

5. Don't whine over spilt milk. (You're not a teenager anymore. If an unnerving topic comes up, let it go already.)

6. Don't try to befriend your mother's cranky-ass cat if it is used to a sheltered existence in the apartment. If the cat hisses, stand back.

7. Accept the criticism that your lipstick is too dark and "Maybe you should get some highlights in your hair." (It seems that mothers simply can't contain themselves when it comes to dishing out beauty advice to their daughters.)

8. Say yes when asked if you'd like a second helping. It will make your mother feel good.

9. Try not to say, "Mom, you already told me that," even if you've heard the story a hundred times before.

10. Pick up after yourself. Be a good guest. (Don't taunt an octogenarian.)

My mother, sister and I are already planning our next slumber party and the myriad of activities that will include eating out, shopping, the theater and a beach-walk.

Likely, though, the schedule will change. We'll get in our pajamas, put on our slippers and enjoy the low-key fanfare and simple pleasure of being in one another's company.