Miss Prepared Takes Off Without a Flight Plan
I did something a little crazy recently.
Okay, not very crazy for most people, but pretty crazy for me. As a minivan-driving mother of four who doesn’t go anywhere without a first aid kit, an umbrella, snacks, jumper cables, water bottles, ibuprofen, Benadryl and some kind of reading material, I never leave home without a flight plan. Wherever I’m going, I’ve checked the website for the hours, directions, parking and all applicable discount coupons. I am Miss Prepared 2012.
This preparation brain has evolved over 18 years of toting small children. That may not be a long time in the scheme of actual evolution, but for me it’s a major mutation from my pre-kid self. Now that my youngest is ten, however, those skills aren’t as critical as they used to be. I’m happy to report that none of my kids will have a shrieking, fist-flailing meltdown anymore if they get hungry and I haven’t packed a snack.
So, when my friend Ann called at 3:20 on recent a Saturday afternoon and said, “There’s a free concert at the Hatch Shell at 4. Andy Grammar, Gavin DeGraw and Train. Do you want to go?” I found myself caught between my flight plan self and the me I’m turning into. The one with no kids in single digits. The one who could … possibly … just go.
Thought process: It’s supposed to rain, and where will we park, and where will the boys be, and when will I get back, and what if someone needs me?
Oh, come on. Free concert. TRAIN, for godsake!
This has not happened in 18 years. Sad but true.
Granted, my boys all had various plans of their own, but the fact that I couldn’t reach my husband to warn him of this madcap new development gave me pause. Still, it didn’t stop me.
Ann picked me up ten minutes later, and I left carrying only a small purse with a cell phone, my reading glasses, a credit card, some cash and a couple of Band-Aids. (Okay, yes, Band-Aids. They’re small and they could help someone.)
We drove into Boston, got a parking spot surprisingly quickly, then followed the crowds of mostly 20- and 30-somethings to the Hatch Shell, an open air stage on the banks of the Charles River. The place was packed but we found a little patch of grass. Ann laid out an old sheet and we sat down, immediately taking out our phones.
“The moms put on their reading glasses and check to see if anyone needs them,” I teased.
Ann laughed. “Yeah, next we’ll be popping Tums and adjusting our bra straps.”
It turned out that we’d missed Andy Grammar. This was disappointing, and I did have a thought about how, if I’d known about it sooner, I would’ve checked the concert website to know precisely when it started.
But so what? I was here! And it wasn’t raining yet! And Gavin DeGraw was up next!
My 18-year-old daughter introduced me to Gavin’s music a year or so ago. Whenever we had a sizable car ride, she would load her iPod with songs she thought I’d like. College visits produced a lot of these playlists, and it’s the only reason I have even the remotest idea of what’s going on in the music scene these days.
She’s in her freshman year of college now, and I really miss her. I wrote about that recently in a piece called Letting Her Go. Now that she’s at school, I have a little agreement with myself that I’ve shared with her: it’s up to her to initiate contact. I don’t want to be one of those mothers calling and texting and cyber-hovering. When she wants to chat, I’m here.
There is one caveat, however. (A rule like that begs for a caveat, doesn’t it?) When there’s a real reason to talk to her, I reach out. I was pretty sure that showing up on the fly at a concert that she herself might like to attend qualified. So when Gavin came onstage, I sent a quick text.
Her return text: “What? You’re at a concert? What concert?”
I texted back and included words from the song he was singing: “I don’t want to be anything other than what I been trying to be lately …”
Her reply: “Wow mom …”
I showed Ann, who had texted her oldest son, also at college. He had replied with exactly the same words.
We high-fived. Yes, we did. It was a moment. Proof that we can, finally, do something completely spontaneous, fun and without preparation—and shock our first-borns just a little bit as an added bonus. Neither of us is crazy about the fact that our kids are now marching toward the exit signs; it was important for us to glimpse the other side, if only for an afternoon, and see that it was going to be okay.
Train came onstage. They were amazing. When they did Drops of Jupiter—which the lead singer wrote about his mother, it turns out—I sang along with heart-filled emotion like everyone else.
It was raining and I had no jacket and I didn’t even care.