I felt the cold water gliding through my body as I stroked toward the open ocean from Diego’s beach.
But a sound distracted me. It sounded like a seagull was squawking my name. Could it be? I knew I couldn’t keep going without finding out if such a supernatural creature existed.
When I stood and looked up, I saw no seagulls in the sky. I turned around to the shore, and I could see that it wasn’t a bird squawking; it was a person, and it was my mom.
From the distance between us, I could make what she was telling me, “Carlos, in the shallow. Swim in the shallow.”
Since we were kids, my mom insisted we stay in the shallow when swimming in the ocean.
I walked back to where she was. I saw teenagers walk by me and look at us, curious about what was happening.
When I finally reached my mom, I told her, “mom, turn around and leave me alone. I’m 33 years old.”
In my mom’s mind, everything was a threat to our safety.
When I was seventeen, I was invited to hear a pitch on a magical juice that would end cancer throughout the entire world and eradicate it from society.
I took two buses to get to the presentation and find out that I had to buy twenty-three cases of it and invite all of my friends to do the same to get in at the ground level.
I was disappointed to find out that Noni Juice wasn’t just a juice. It was a juice and a scam.
Disappointed, I took the same two buses on my way back.
I was way past when I told my mom I would be back. Back then, in the mid-90s in Colombia, I didn’t have a cell phone, so there was no way to alert her that I was behind schedule.
When I got home, five of my friends and two of my uncles were there with somber faces. I couldn’t understand what was going on. Someone must have died.
My mom had summoned all of them there because she was absolutely positive I had been ”kidnapped”. The police were already on notice, and had I not shown up in the following hour, she would have released them in the city to look for me.
It was all blown out of proportion. I wasn’t the perp of a horrible crime. I was the victim of a multi-level marketing scheme. But that’s not the way my mom saw it. I was grounded for a month.
I wish I could say that was the only encounter my mom and I had with the police.
One time I was on the phone with her while driving through Petaluma. I came to a stop sign, and I pulled what is commonly known as a California roll. If you don’t know, a California roll is not only the sushi roll with fake crab but also the name for when you pretend to stop at a stop sign, but you don’t and hope really hard there are no cops around.
In my case, I wasn’t so lucky.
I was worried I had been pulled over. My car’s paperwork wasn’t in order. My registration had expired, and I was in the middle of transferring the car’s title to my name.
I told my mom I would have to call her back while I talked to the cop. I hung up the phone and put it down on the cupholder.
I lowered my window, and as the policeman reached my window, my mom called me on facetime. The phone with a mind of its own answered the call.
From the corner of my eye, I could see my mom on my iPhone’s screen with a pained look on her face, frantically waving a piece of paper at the screen while shouting:
“Mr. Policeman. I am the owner of the car — Mr. Policeman. I am the owner of the car. I have the title right here, Mr. Policeman. It’sIt’s right here. Mr. Policeman, look at the screen, Mr. Policeman. Look at the screen. I have the tile right here.”
The cop listened to the whole thing.
I know what people say about sudden moves in front of cops, so I politely asked the officer, “is it okay if I pick up my phone, hang up the call and block my mom’s number for the rest of my life?”
Mr. policeman gave me the green light, and shortly after, he let me go with a warning. He took pity on me because the only crime I was guilty of was DWS-Driving While (S)Mothered.
A few years after that, my first daughter was born. I held her in my arms, and only then I understood how much my mom loved me. I understood her fears because I knew I would have the same ones for my daughter.
It is weird to think I lived 35 years of my life without knowing how much my mom loves me. I love her more because of it.
I also know I might never be able to love her as much as she loves me because that kind of love is only reserved for a parent to feel for their kids.
I will give my daughter that same love. I will try not to embarrass her in front of her friends, and I will not call the cops when unwarranted.
But I can’t make any promises. I’m just trying to protect her, even if it means asking her to swim in the shallow when she is an adult.