Out of Touch


I often think about the brave souls who left everything that they knew and loved to come to the wild, savage lands of North America to seek freedom and prosperity.

Actually, no I don’t.

I really only think about them when I am teaching my fifth graders about the Separatists who left England and went first to Amsterdam and then here to the “New World” seeking the freedom to practice their own personal version of Christianity.

But I have been thinking of them a lot in the past two weeks, even though I won’t be teaching about them for another month.

You see, when young William Bradford and his wife Dorothy left Amsterdam to set sail on the Mayflower, they had to make a difficult choice.  They left behind them not only the safety and security of a major European city, and every modern amenity then known to mankind, they also left behind their three year old son, John, who was felt to be too fragile to make the dangerous journey.

Let me repeat that.

Dorothy Bradford (I am leaving William out this time: he’s only the Dad! He probably wasn’t dissolving in tears every ten seconds at the mere thought of his little boy.) Dorothy Bradford had to get on a wooden ship, sail off across the raging Atlantic ocean to find someplace reasonably safe to settle, all while leaving her THREE YEAR OLD BABY behind her.

Holy Crap.

So why have I been thinking about poor Dorothy, and her tiny baby boy, left crying for his Mamma?

Because Tim went back to college, that’s why!

I am facing exactly the same fears and griefs.

Sort of.

So, my son isn’t three (he’s twenty).  And he isn’t across the ocean (he’s two hours away by car).  But both Dorothy Bradford and I have suffered the pangs of a Mother who is completely unable to contact her son, to reassure herself of his well being, to express her love and her support and her yearning to be near him once again.

Dorothy was out of touch with her son because he was 3, 000 miles away.  A letter to him would have taken a minimum of sixth months to get to its destination. Plus, you know, he couldn’t read.

I am out of touch with my son because he absolutely refuses to read his email. He doesn’t acknowledge his Facebook messages from me, and he doesn’t want me to call or text because he is using a Trac phone and its wicked expensive.

So, Dorothy Bradford, poor sad soul that she was would completely understand my mood on this windy Saturday afternoon, as I watch weather reports of possible TORNADOES passing through my son’s college town.  Like her, I am wracked with worry about my boy.

Unlike Dorothy, I won’t be throwing myself overboard to drown in the icy seas.  Instead, I may just jump in the car and drive out there so I can wring his little neck.

14 thoughts on “Out of Touch

  1. My daughter’s only been gone a couple of weeks and I get angry like you. I think anger is a normal part of loss. Empty nesting is a horrible process.

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    • Thank you!! “Horrible process” barely begins to cover it! My chicks flew the coop two years ago, but I am still struggling with nights like this one! Thank you, thank you for understanding!

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    • Thank you, my friend!!! I have always wondered what happened to that little boy…..I know that the story of Dorothy throwing herself overboard is only conjecture (N. Philbrick’s) but it made for a more ironic post, no? Especially if Tim reads it!!

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  2. I appreciate how you write about your motherhood angst. I think all of us moms who are so much more fortunate than Dorothy should somehow figure out a way to be grateful for the ease of our lives. Reading your blog helps me – it’s nice to know that there are other moms out there in the same boat (no pun intended).

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    • Thank you, but the truly sad part of my post, is that I feel like I really am in the same boat! I can’t believe that in the age of constant contact, my kids refuse to be in touch! Just call me Dorothy…..I’m pathetic!

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      • Oh gosh, don’t worry about it…when they need you, you’ll be the first port of call. As is, you’ve clearly brought up a fabulous, independent child, who is out there having his own experiences. You’ve done a great job and isn’t that exactly how you would want it to be? (I so know you wouldn’t want him being a nervous wreck, too scared to breathe without asking first!). Exciting times. Love reading about this journey!

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      • On a recent visit to my 19 year old, I had him check his email for something. When he opened it I was only mildly surprised to see 40 or 50 unopened emails from me that dated back over a year. If we are lucky he will answer the phone (once) or a text. However, when he needs us he calls, and I have a feeling that is how your 20 year old is as well. It’s the age. Our slightly older children (22 and 23) are much more receptive and communicate frequently, but they went through that 19-21 year old stage as well.

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      • You’re so right!
        My 26 year old daughter is in touch all the time (of course, I see her every day at work, but still…..) and my 22 year old son is relatively good about responding. It’s that baby boy…..He did get in touch today, saying that the internet service in his apartment is spotty at best. He is in the middle of the Berkshires, so he is sort of a Luddite. But still…..!

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  3. Momshieb: This is fabulous on so many levels. It is so funny how we feel we must “keep in touch” with our kids to guide them and warn them (been there, done that) and they just want to be free. I was thinking the other day about how much courage it must have taken for Blacks in the 1950’s to let their kids be the “first” to integrate schools with all the people around them hurling hateful words at them at the very least and threatening deadly assaults at the worst. Everytime I see a copy of the Norman Rockwell painting of Little Ruby (6 years old) walking to an all-white school in between National Guardsmen, I’m struck by the same horrific wonder: where did her parents get the courage and could I have done the same? Wow! Really good post. I think I’ll go and warn my grown children that their is a storm coming their way in a couple of days!

    P.S. Here’s a fun fact: WW (my husband) is a direct descendant of Gov John Bradford (got the papers to prove it). Had John Bradford not survived and come to America, my life would certainly be different and I wouldn’t have met and married one of the most amazing men on the face of the Earth.

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    • Wow!! I love that you have a connection to little John! I swear, crazy woman that I am, when I first read about him being left behind, I laid awake a whole night, worried about him!
      My poor kids, I can feel the eye rolling from 100 miles away. “There goes Mom again, acting crazy.”

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  4. I’m the same way! My kids think I’m insane. One of them lives in the Mid-west and the other lives in NYC. Once there was a rapist loose in Los Angeles and I sent them warnings every day about the police report trackings! (Can you believe that?) My girls still laugh about that helicopter nonsense of mine. But you know what, at least we care. . . 🙂

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