Generally speaking, I’m a good Mom. My children have always been well fed, clothed and somewhat protected from the elements, at least while I was watching. I only lost one of them once, but in the end, he was found at an elderly neighbor’s house watching cartoons and eating Jell-O, so the police forgave me. But as the boys have grown older, there are new Mom-challenges for which I’m not prepared and I suddenly feel like a total loser.
I’ve been horrified to realize that I’m terrible at the art of sending care packages.
During the last two years my son has been in college and away working at summer camp, I’ve only managed to get four, maybe five boxes of goodies shipped to him, and getting those packages delivered were more complicated, and on some level more painful, than delivering the actual child 19 years earlier!
At the University’s recent Family Weekend, a student spoke to the Parent’s Association and gushed about how much it meant when he received the “you’ve got a package” email from the school’s mailroom. With a dreamy look on his face, he told of how he would rush from his dorm down to the student union and tear open the decorated box his Mother had packed with all his favorite homemade things including a needlepoint bookmark she had whipped up with his favorite Bible verse on it. Uummm . . . let me think; last year I sent my son a Darth Vader Pez dispenser and some glow-in-the-dark bracelets.
The problem is twofold; first, I don’t know what to include in the package, and second, I procrastinate like heck actually getting it in the mail. I’ll put an empty box on the corner of my desk and place a new shirt in it, then I’ll stare at the box for a few more days contemplating the contents like a valuable time capsule. I (shockingly) can’t include homemade cookies or candy because he’s finally decided to listen to what I’ve been telling him all his life and slow down on his consumption of sweets. He’s suddenly Mr. Healthy and only wants nut and berry types of things, so I’ll poke around the Piggly Wiggly until I find some dried fruit and saw-dust health bars and add those to the box.
I’ll spend a few more days thinking about it, and eventually toss in some pens and a can of Play-Dough (he liked it when he was five, and hasn’t notified me of any change), a box of rubber bands for shooting at his roommate, and a new toothbrush, because everyone can always use a new toothbrush.
When I was in college, my Mother mailed my Easter bunny which arrived completely melted flat with it’s little pink candy eyes slid cross-eyed over to one side. I scraped it out with a plastic spoon and although it was religiously disturbing, that rabbit was still pretty tasty. She also sent family photos, but nowadays, we send our son pictures by text or email. As a young co-ed, I also liked finding an envelope of what my Granddaddy called, “walking around money,” but now we can more safely transfer funds via computer as well, therefore eliminating the need for that bit of excitement.
Looking up his address, finding the big tape gun, remembering to put the package in the car, standing in line at the post office . . . why can’t I be one of the sweet Moms with a good attitude about care packages?
Maybe if I remind him of all the times in years past I made him homemade themed birthday cakes, blanket forts and plaster of paris volcanoes he’ll forgive me for the lame mother-of-big-boys I’ve become and accept my measly care packages with a grain of salt.
Salt! That’s another thing I can include in case he needs to use the family remedy for a sore throat and gargle with warm salty water. I’ll add that to the list for next time. It really is the thought that counts, right?
This story first appeared in The Baldwin Times.