I remember calculating my “Cost Per Notch” a while ago, trying to inject some business discipline into my sexual conquests. I knew how much I was spending on dating and from that it wasn’t hard to figure out the time as well. Up to somewhat recently I was spending an extraordinary amount of it getting laid (surprise).
When I was a teenager my Mom would come home from a day at work, cook, do the dishes, clean the house, and take out the trash. She’d yell at me and my sister for not helping her out and sometimes beat us with a broom, but we were brats and rarely did help out. I don’t remember ever doing the dishes. Almost weekly I’d hear “I hope you appreciate me one day!” I’d tell my friends that I had a crazy mother. After I left the house she would ask me to do things like help her move or look at her retirement paperwork. I’d groan each time until she stopped asking me for favors. I didn’t want to be bothered.
In South America I was down on chasing stupid hostel girls I didn’t care about, but those girls weren’t that much different from the ones I chased at home. I realized how much time I put into them every week of my adult life for mostly unfulfilling, cheap thrills when I didn’t bother putting 10% of that time into my own mother. She put two decades of her life into me and I was treating her like how a typical American treats their parents. That’s not how things are done in the Middle East damn it.
I’m sure she has sensed the change. I call her more than once a week now and am a little too eager to help her out with her favors. Instead of short visits I stop by for hours and let her talk her head off about whatever is bugging her. If I sense she needs something I get it without her asking. If I can’t make her life a little more comfortable then I’ve failed as a son—and thankfully I’ve come to that realization while she’s still alive! Nothing makes her happier than when I start a sentence with “I don’t know how you…” and then recite all she did to raise her son to the strapping underacheiving gentleman he has become. This weekend I’m escorting her to the Turkish festival. We will drink Turkish coffee, get our fortunes read, run into her chatty Turk friends, and bond.
My 22-year-old sister has an active social life. She goes out at least twice a week and messages her friends throughout the day on her unlimited text plan, but she’ll go weeks without picking up the phone and calling my Dad or her little brothers, let alone visit though she lives twenty minutes away. I hope she doesn’t take as long as I did.