Mom: Spring break, mom style

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Spring 1999, I boarded a Continental flight from Michigan to Texas. I can’t remember the departure or destination city, or even if it was a direct flight. But I can still see the silhouette of the tall, handsome and funny man who sent me an airline ticket as an invitation to visit him in the South for what would be only our second meeting.

The weekend was a whirlwind, from getting guacamole before noon on the San Antonio River Walk to perusing pawnshops en route to midnight margaritas in Austin. In our last moments together he teased and twirled me into the “Where do we go from here?” conversation that neither of us could answer.

Two kids and three gray hairs later, I find myself traveling back for the first time to the Texas that had me blushing and blurry-eyed last century. Only this time I’m far from alone. I’m sandwiched in the middle of my family, which fills an entire airplane row — from my boys busily crafting mines on computers to my husband, mom and me all sipping tomato juice sans ice. We wonder if our sixth, my dad, enjoying his upgrade to first class several zones ahead of us, will be slightly tipsy upon arrival.

It is the same airspace and season as that first visit, yet the surroundings and energy are completely different and I feel sensitized. I find myself unconsciously sifting between varied versions of what was and what is. The man of my memory had planned all of the details of that first flight, and my husband essentially let me just show up with my packed bags plus parents now. Longer-lasting love has replaced romance, and lemon drops make room for lemonade. The parents who were wary about me flying into a different time zone to visit a man I hardly knew proudly packed their bags to join my family for spring break in Texas today.

We will hit a presidential library and maybe a temple and skip the late-night band scene from my last trip here. It feels freeing to acknowledge that so much has changed.

The man in Texas and I would have had to navigate a long-distance relationship in that time before Facetime, and commit without knowing each other very well. Daydreaming on the plane as it makes its final descent to Dallas, I bind the books of my life into a trilogy: Part 1 includes everything up to that lone trip to Texas; Part 2 is everything from my solitary return flight leading up to this moment; and Part 3 is yet to be written.

Whatever else is coming, I know it will at least be filled with the romance of motherhood as I gaze with adulation into the eyes of my sons, and softness for the soul of my own mother, who I understand more as a parent myself now.

Today, I am not just a girl on a getaway, I am a woman for whom motherhood is foremost, and that’s the lens through which I see, experience and craft everything. As for that silhouette from my first Texas trip, he came into the light well before he lovingly peered over my shoulder as I wrote the final words of this column. He grew into the man with whom I cannot wait to walk off the plane today as we spring break in the South, with our family. My parents, for their part, claim the first trip never happened, that they never would have allowed their daughter to visit someone she hardly knew … but are glad he is here now.

The author, Anuja Rajendra, is the mother of two sons. A U-M grad, she’s lived in Ann Arbor for 16 years. She’s the founder and CEO of BollyFit and can be reached at anuja@bollyfit.com.

Anuja Rajendra

The author, Anuja Rajendra, is the mother of two sons. A U-M grad, she’s lived in Ann Arbor for 16 years. She’s the founder and CEO of BollyFit.