Today Grandma’s do best to recall noodle necklaces from past years, floppy dandelions poked into baby food jars, paperclips glued to the backs of plaster hand prints, smudgy self-portraits and tender poems. Today I lie still a moment to re-live the echoing pad of multiple sets of feet, effervescent giggles and barely controlled whispers outside my door ready to deliver cold coffee and under cooked pancakes, piled too high. Gripping the sheets, I’d kept my eyes squeezed shut as the tray plopped sloppily near one ear. What I remember best is the tray set aside as a jumble of snuggling boys piled into the bed, pawing to get to me, and smother me with kisses.
This happened once, but its the story that is easily accessed; a symbol for all that’s sweet in parenting, became the memory of all past Mother’s Days.
Whew. And mothering goes on and on and on, doesn’t it? I remember Julie Olsen Edwards in a 1971 child development course, telling each class of students “a mother is a mother for life”. I get it now. This morning I lay very still just a bit after five, hoping I didn’t hear Liza. Staying awake to listen deeply rather than falling back to sleep. The covers open and I sigh, exhaling into her warm sweet neck. Happy day, dear granddaughter. Now still your paddling feet. Shhhh. The birds are still asleep.
I have parent conferences for both kids this week. Nanny Aubrey is away at science camp for three days and nights. And I have intense writing deadlines for work. The cat in the office needs her litter box cleaned and I am really not a cat person. (No one is a litter box person.) And I promised you we’d go to the LaBrea tarpits. Then Grandpa left town for a Ham thing and gone for 10 days. Its his cat. There are some good things to start the day with, other than the sweetness of you children… I just have to wake up and locate them in my sloggy brain.
I let my mind exercise as Liza stills… what would it look like if I was not their mommy person…..Would I stitch, mix glazes, throw pots and handbuild with clay? I would re-write my story and add the new parts that got lived since. I would clean up the barn and rent it to a horsewoman with three horses. I want to organize the library, set up the attic, the art studio and clean out the garage. And after all that, dust off and sit on the bench I placed in the garden 12 years ago. My body would ache as I prepare a meal for selected friends and we’d sit and have full, open meaningful conversations. We’d complete our thoughts and sit over steaming cups of tea into the night. Then I’d get up at 7:30 or whenever I want.
Happy Mother’s Day to my mother, sister and all my mother friends. You are all incredibly devoted, loving, special people. gma