Monday, May 14, 2012

The Best Mother's Day Ever

At about 3 o'clock on one of the sunniest Mother's Days in recent memory, Luca sat up from a sound sleep in his Nana Sue's arms and threw up everything he had eaten since 8 o'clock that morning.  We were all sitting on the porch together, having completed two of the day's three planned meals. It was Annie's first Mother's Day and she and her own mother (me) AND her mother-in-law (the aforementioned Nana Sue) were having a pretty nice day so far. The morning meal - bagels, cream cheese, lox and fruit salad - looked like this:

And this: 
We had Momosa's (which is a Mimosa made on demand for Mom) and just plain enjoyed the beautiful day.  Luca, as always, was the center of attention, but the Moms got some attention, too. We moved to the back porch for our second course, mini quiches and chicken-maple sausages; bananas for Luca. My sister the Great-Aunt arrived and we all opened tissue-paper wrapped presents and cards in pink and purple envelopes. It was a good day. We moved back up to the shade of the side porch when the sun got too hot. Luca had lost his shirt by this time and my son, Uncle Christopher, showed up after he had gotten off of work.  A few minutes before 3pm, Luca looked like this: 
Not even a hint of what was to come. Then he threw up. Eight adults jumped to action: Mommy (Annie) swooped up Luca to hold and comfort him, Daddy (Tony) helped his Nana extricate herself from the torrent of bananas, rice cereal and milk that was dripping off of her black blouse and now pooling on the porch. Great-Aunt Susie and Uncle Christopher tackled porch-cleaning duty and Auntie Christina helped Daddy take care of their mother.  Papa and I helped by staying out of the way. 

The mood of the day changed. Although the little guy was able to manage that brilliant smile, he was clearly feeling terribly and continued to throw up. Mom and Dad took him upstairs and the rest of us kept vigil on the porch, sharing vomit war stories. We grandmothers hovered, galvanized, ready to be of any assistance necessary. Papa took a nap. Uncle Christopher went up to check on his little nephew and gave his sister the First Mother's Day card he had for her and decided to leave the vigil in our capable hands. Plans for meal number three were put on hold. It wasn't as if we hadn't eaten enough anyway. Many of the Mother's Day presents were chocolates; of the fancy boxed variety, so we were fine.  

At one point, Tony came down and asked both me and Nana Sue to come up - they needed advice! We didn't need to be asked twice. Upstairs, Luca was laying across Annie's lap smiling, but he barely moved. Annie held on to him as if hoping to transmit her own energy into him, looking tired yet strong. She said with a smile, "He's really making me work for this Mother's Day."

I thought about that later, how things work out. All of our plans, potted plants and tasty dishes were set aside when the baby got sick and everyone discovered something about the best laid plans and motherhood. Personally, I learned that I don't always have to know everything...just because I've been a mom for over 31 years. I came by the knowledge first-hand, through experiences just like this. Luca has a mother; he doesn't need two more. And although Sue and I are a couple of pretty good mothers, we are better grandmothers...sitting back until called upon. But when we're called upon, you better believe that we'll be on the job. But I think we both know that to be able to trust your mother's intuition, you need to develop it. And when your baby is throwing up and crying and tired...well, that is the proving ground. 

Yesterday, everyone, from Papa to Auntie, from Uncle to Great-Auntie, seemed to understand that when a baby is sick, you just do what needs to be done.  Nobody was disappointed, nobody pouted, everybody pitched in to help. As a mother, I couldn't have been more proud of the way my family rallied around Annie, Tony and Luca. Or the way the new Mommy and Daddy stepped right up to the responsibility of taking care of their little one. There will be many more Mother's Days to come, complete with handmade construction paper cards, breakfasts in bed, macaroni necklaces, fancy brunches, bouquets of flowers and lots more chocolate. As far as I'm concerned, though, this year was the best Mother's Day ever. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

I don't have much, but I love what I've got

Last year, I received--or bought--an orchid. (I'm sorry if you gave it to me and I don't remember. One of the things I don't have much of is memory.) It bloomed on the table in the kitchen for months, until, one by one, the delicate petals fell off, leaving only broad, waxy leaves and a creepy looking stem held to a stake by one of those small plastic hair clasps. It had been so pretty and I marveled at the fact that I hadn't killed it sooner than it's apparent natural demise. I didn't want to toss it out in the garbage--that seemed harsh, so I Googled "orchids" to see if I could nurture it back to beauty once more.

I wasn't too hopeful.

As it turns out, there were some easy "bring-back-to-life" instructions on the web site for these particular orchids. I had to cut back the creepy looking stem and add some fertilizer and wait. A couple of months later, one of what looked like exposed roots started to poke upward. It began to turn from brown to green and as it grew, I used the hair clasp to secure it to the stake. I continued to water it and a couple of months ago, a tiny green shoot appeared with a small greenish bulb at the end. Then more appeared. I was getting excited. Then, it bloomed. I came down one morning and saw that pink, delicate blossoms hung impossibly from the tiny stems. Success! It grew back! And there were more blooms and, I think, a stronger looking stem. I pointed it out, more than once,  to everyone who walked through the kitchen - "Look! it came back! It came back!" My family was not equally thrilled. But I felt like I had just painted the Sistine Chapel.

My point is (if it has not been clear one can muddle a point like I can) that there is a lot that I can't do. And once one (okay, me) gets to a certain age, it's not likely that I'm going to acquire many more skills and abilities than those I already possess. Old dog, new tricks...that sort of thing. (I'm not cynical about lifelong learning...I teach in a lifelong learning program...I'm making a point, remember?) Some people can grow acres and acres of flora and fauna. I can't, but I can get an orchid to come back. And that makes me happy. I like what I am able to do, I'm grateful for what I am able to do.  And I'm grateful for what others can do that I can't - like my taxes. It's nice to be at this stage of life when I don't feel like I have to do everything. I can just do the stuff that I can do, do my best and let somebody else do theirs. Why take all the fun for myself?