MY SON and I had a moment. He may have missed it. Perhaps it was only a moment for a mother. Perhaps it was only just another letting go.
Always eager to avoid Halloween and missing all my West Coast children, I leapt at the excuse to fly to California the last fTC
weekend in October to see my youngest perform in a college play.
Rationalizing that this was a new twist for this very athletic, non-dramatic child, I found myself once more expounding on the virtues of college, where young adults can explore new interests and find new identities.
Wiser, non-mother types could argue that spending most of Friday and all of Sunday traveling in order to spend a small part of Friday and all of Saturday with a son is nuts. I won't deny that it was exhausting, and certainly his small role in the play didn't warrant that kind of attention.
For three hours on Friday afternoon, we wandered around the campus in a downpour. (This was Southern California before the fires. I wanted a refund!) Then we had a quick dinner before he had to report for make-up.
I saw him only for a minute after Friday night's performance, and we had brunch Saturday before he reported back for the matinee performance. I skipped the matinee, fully realizing that in so doing I might be jeopardizing my Mother of the Year title.
We spent the lovely hour he had "off" between shows eating Chinese food and reminding each other of so many other Halloweens we had shared. He remembered fondly the Shazam costume I made when he was 4. He was less charitable in his recollections of my version of a mummy costume that kept unraveling so that everyone thought he was a bandaged soldier.
Perhaps fortunately, neither of us could recall much about the costume that required me to follow him from door to door with a stapler. I told him how I felt protected when he used to handle the trick-or-treater chores after he became a teen-ager. He had heard those words before, but clearly he didn't mind hearing them again.
And then he went to get made up, and I went back to what seemed a very lonely motel room. I went to the play again, and, like any mother, loved seeing it twice in two days. After the play, we met just for a minute before he was to go on to a cast party and I to my room to sleep before my return flight the next morning.
I was happy I'd come and sad that I was leaving. Perhaps it was our dinner reminiscences of Halloweens past or the protectiveness in his suddenly very adult voice when he said, "Take care, Mom. Have a happy Halloween." I left quickly, before he could see my tears.
Lila Lohr is headmistress of St. Paul's School for Girls.