My mom said she already got her Mother's Day present. My grandmother agreed. It sure made for an easy time shopping - I just picked up some pretty cards; mailed some things to my in-laws, and my Mother's Day was in the bag.
In typical motherly fashion, the gift my mom and grandmother referred to was something that couldn't be wrapped. Most moms like jewelry and flowers, but I have yet to meet one that prefers them to actions that leave them feeling loved and appreciated. Moms are known to cherish one kind deed like a precious diamond to proudly show off to anyone who will see.
I gave my mom and grandmother their gift last November by simply moving nearby. Not just close, as in sharing the same zip code. We settled into the house directly across the street from my grandmother's.
They say you can't come back home again, but I did just that. It wasn't the easiest decision my husband and I have ever made. We cherish privacy, ranking it not too far behind God, our marriage and the kids. We don't like it when people pop in unannounced, or feel like our personal space is invaded. Because of this, I wasn't sure how this living arrangement would work out.
Having family for neighbors was the norm not too long ago. Multi-generational families stayed in the same hometown instead of moving away for career opportunities. Few of our friends live near any of their extended families, and for a long time, neither did we.
It seems that the tide is swinging the other way again. A study conducted by the AARP found that 80 percent of adults older than age 45 think it's important to live near their children and grandchildren. Perhaps more people are beginning to realize that while privacy is nice, there is something to be said about the comfort of being near family.
Besides the practicality of things such as impromptu child care, and borrowing an egg on a moment's notice, there's comfort in just knowing we're there. My mom and grandmother say it's like a dream to have us all together again.
It's a bit of a gift to me as well. I love to see my children riding their bikes down the same tree-lined street I barreled down as a child. Has the county ever paved this road? It has always been the same washed-out, faded asphalt gray. Spring and summer flowers splash the lush green lawns in a palette of fuchsia, pink and white, just like they always have.
In this neighborhood of solid brick homes, even the houses appear to have been frozen in time. Most of the neighbors are still the same, and some even remember me, though I bear little resemblance to the shy, ponytailed girl they knew back then.
It's strangely peaceful to be here, surrounded by the most familiar of things, living once again amongst the memories that comforted me during the years we were away. The good, damp smell of the forest, a hundred birds chirping at dawn and the light hum of I-20 always flowing in the background - these things have always been this corner of Georgia. They will always be my home.
It's only recently that I've been able to appreciate it again. Adjusting to this move was difficult, for reasons I'm not sure I can explain. Maybe it was the privacy issue, or maybe it was the feeling that being here would mean stepping back into my role as the daughter instead of being respected as a mother in my own right.
It's silly, of course. My mother knows that I'm an adult - my graying hair proclaims it. Yet I will always be her baby. Her and my grandmother's excitement about my living here isn't about stripping away my privacy. It's about the reassurance of knowing that their "babies" are all OK.
It's an awkward thing that never fully happens, this breaking out of roles from mother to child to mother. I look at my own precious children and already mourn the day they leave my nest, when my only choice is to let them fly. And I imagine that then, I'll simply hope for the blessing of living near them again someday.
So it's good to have roosted back here at home, to be within a stone's throw of all I knew growing up. Life has come full circle, and for now, I know-I'm right where I belong.
Kari Apted may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.