I first published this a year ago. This Easter, my daughters are not coming home for the break, and I have to confess that I have not put out one single Easter decoration. So instead, I have taken a picture of a fake Fabergé egg we bought at a Christmas market, of all places. It sits on a shelf in my office all year, though, so I guess it doesn’t count as decoration.
My two daughters finally moved out last October. The word “finally” may sound nasty, but I mean it literally. They left several times for college, but along came COVID and botched everybody’s plans. When all university classes went online, and with lousy Wi-Fi in the dorm, it made sense to move back home. Not until last October could I systematically begin putting my Mom identity to rest. Suddenly, it is now being reactivated.
By Easter eggs.
Easter is the time for renewal and new beginnings. I have been triggered to mentally revive parts of my Mom-brain, parts that I so painstakingly just deactivated. It took quite a while to program myself as a Mom in the first place. Not until I had kids did I realize it was my job to celebrate holidays. Halloween, Christmas, birthdays – somebody had to organize all the decorations and celebrations and drum up enthusiasm.
Oh! That’s me, I learned.
Getting a visit from my daughters just before Easter fired up the part of my brain dedicated to kids: not the parietal lobe, but the parental lobe. Easter, Easter – oh yes, that means eggs. We must decorate with eggs. I had already been admiring the neighbors’ outdoor decorations on my morning walks for the past few past weeks. Painted eggs swing from bright yellow forsythias and other low-hanging branches, sometimes encrusted magically with snow. So it wasn’t as if there were no visual clues that Easter would soon be upon us. But when I started preparing the apartment for the imminent arrival of my offspring, it hit me: it’s a holiday.
Once a mother, always a mother, so they say. Even when your kids are far away, there’s a part of you that always worries about them. Only when reassured that they are doing well can you truly be at ease. This also applies to me now that my kids have moved out. A part of my psyche is reserved for my children.
I had only just learned to adapt to the new reality of having grown kids living somewhere else. It took me a while to pare down the shopping list to the needs of just two adults. Every family member has special tastes in food, and over the years on automatic pilot in the grocery store, I would reach for cheddar cheese, extra grapes, and San Pellegrino grapefruit soda. But after throwing out moldy cheese a few times and watching the cans of soda accumulate untouched in the refrigerator door, I began to fully grasp reality. They were gone.
But now, they were coming back. Time to reboot!
A mother I am, daughters are coming, decorate I must.
I descend to the basement to retrieve the Easter decorations. Here are their old Easter baskets, the ones I used to fill up and hide in the apartment, leaving poetic notes with hints about where they might be. Good times – but perhaps inappropriate for university students. Instead, I retrieve the box of colored eggs from previous years and hang some on the cherry tree and pussy willow branches in a vase. And here is a nest made out of straw that I still have saved from their preschool days. I couldn’t bear to throw it away, and I figured it doesn’t take up much space in the Easter box anyway. I put a few painted eggs in here, too.
I scurry around, Mom-like, preparing food and baking cake. My daughters arrive and we play some games together and have a lot of laughs. We have a great time! But before I know it, they’re gone again. Now there’s just a spate of unanswered e-mails, unedited texts, and laundry.
The apartment is quiet again.
The painted eggs will beautify the apartment for a couple more weeks, until Easter is so far gone that they start looking silly, like that Christmas angel you discover by chance high up on a living room shelf in March. At that point, the eggs will disappear once again into the box, until next Easter.
My mother persona will be put to rest again, too, until the next visit.