Only my daughter, Laura, has the power to get me to eat a raw quail egg. We did so last Thursday night at our favorite sushi restaurant in Charlotte, N.C., where she lives. I was in town for a conference.
It's been five years since she moved away from home, and I think I've finally, finally, finally (maybe) stopped thinking of her as some wild feral child who needs me hovering over her, guiding her every move, breath, decision and thought.
She's 25 now, making more money than I am, finishing her fifth year of a two-year college, dating a guy who treats her well.
A few months ago, both my daughters and I met in California for a family wedding. I hadn't seen either of them in months and yet from the moment we saw each other it was as if no time had passed.
Not only that, the older they get, the better we seem to get along. Maybe it's because I no longer fret over whether they've brushed their teeth or made their beds, or maybe it's because they see my wrinkles and graying hair and take pity on their dear old mom.
Maybe it's a little of both, or maybe it's something altogether different. I don't want to analyze it to death but rather enjoy the too few times we're together.
When both daughters lived at home, we spent a lot of time at the mall. One of our only holiday traditions was to go to the mall the day after Christmas, not to shop but to people watch and play our favorite post-holiday game: Guess who's wearing their Christmas presents.
Yeah, I'm well aware of how shallow that is, but it's incredibly fun. Although I dearly love both girls, I always counted Mondays during the summer months when they were bored and driving each other crazy. With quiet desperation I'd stare at the calendar and tell myself, "Only five more Mondays until school starts. Only four more Mondays."
One time I took them to a resort hotel in Orlando for a weekend away. We hadn't been in our room 10 minutes when Alison, my oldest, pressed every button on the TV remote and accidentally ordered every pay-per-view movie on the menu. (She was about 15 at the time!)
I used to tell them that when they were at school I'd go in their rooms, try on their clothes, jump on their beds and then eat ice cream for breakfast.
Once, when my husband was gone for two weeks, we wanted to see how many days in a row we could eat baked potatoes for dinner. We gave up after 13 days.
Seeing either daughter brings back these same memories. When Alison was about 4 we were in the market, and just as we hit the pet supplies aisle she sighed loudly and lamented, "Do we hafta eat dog food again tonight?"
Laura once filled the kitchen sink with soapy water and washed all of her "washable" markers. Alison made up a song about a boy named Sammy who rode his toilet to the store. Now she has her own daughter who thinks toilet songs are hilarious.
Some things are eternal.
On Thursday night as Laura and I ate sushi, we chit-chatted about nothing special, which made it special. Most of the best memories are the everyday moments that add up. Plus, a noisy sushi restaurant isn't the best place to discuss anything of depth or importance.
On the other hand, sometimes - not always, but sometimes - more is said without actually saying words. While I might have liked to cram all the mom-nags (as my unsolicited advice is called) into the few short hours I had with Laura, it wasn't the time or place.
Besides, for the first time since she's been gone, I realized I didn't have to. She's not the kid who left home five years ago. She, and her sister, are OK and will be OK.
I, as a mom, need to be reminded of that every now and then.
Plane ticket to Charlotte: $307. Sushi with Laura: $47. Spending time with one of the two most wonderful young women on earth and eating a raw quail egg: priceless.