Today I find myself reflecting on motherhood. I enjoy many tender memories, along with hilarious details I relished.
One of my favorite things was inventing “alternative facts”. When very young, like all little kids, Matt and Mo were delightfully gullible. While watching the Olympics I’d say, “Oh my gosh. I’ll never forget the first time I skated in the Olympic games. I was frightened to step out in front of those crowds.” They also believed I had been on a professional woman’s basketball team, was a former boxing champion, and danced with the Bolshoi Ballet.
Was it wrong to lie to the kids? Maybe. But I was a Monday through Friday single parent. My former husband traveled week-long. Solo parenting was difficult. I made my fun where I could.
I always put my dumplings to bed very early. In the summertime, the other kids would be screeching past the house on their Big Wheels at 7 p.m. I would bath my little guys, curl up on my bed and read to them. I loved those moments, sweet smelling warm children snuggled against me. Matt is three years older than Maureen (nicknamed Mo). We read at his level, but Mo was equally absorbed. I remember while reading Huckleberry Finn I changed his voice from one accent to another. Both children quickly informed me I was, “talking him wrong.”
By 8 p.m. I was pulling the shades and kissing my children goodnight.
Other entertaining stuff I remember–In first grade, Maureen broke her arm. (No, that wasn’t the fun part. It’s coming) She was told the cast would come off in five weeks. When I took her to the hospital for cast removal, the arm was x-rayed and the doctor said, “Sorry, the cast has to stay on for another week.”
Mo was enraged with me–as if the fracture/cast situation was somehow my fault? We were walking down the hospital corridor and she angrily announced she was NEVER looking at me again. We entered the elevator. She turned her head and glared furiously at the stainless steel wall over her left shoulder.
Inwardly chuckling, I said, “Gosh honey, I totally understand your decision. But it might be hard for you never to look at me again. You could accidentally glance my way. We wouldn’t want that to happen. I tell you what–on the way home we’ll stop at the store. I will buy a blindfold. You can wear it for the rest of your life.”
I can still picture her turned head, eyes glued to the wall, shoulders firmly set. When she registered my words, her stance softened. She lowered her neck slowly. Thoughtfully she swiveled, glanced up at me and decisively stated, “Never mind. I’ll keep looking at you.” Me, “Okay Sweetie. I support whichever choice you make.”
Then there was the time she decided to run away from home. She was in an angry huff, stuffing provisions into a backpack. I went into her bedroom and offered my help. “Oh, you’ll need more than that. Don’t forget a flashlight. It gets terribly dark at night. And cold! Be sure to pack warm things. I’ll go find your sleeping bag.” Tee Hee. She soon decided she’d prefer staying in her warm little bed.
She’s a mom now. Yesterday her little guy barfed all over the backseat of their car. I will spare you the photo attached to her text, stating, “Now I know what you went through.” As a kid, Mo suffered horrible car sickness. We always carried airplane barf bags. Even a half mile trip to the grocery store would have her puking in the back seat. We administered Dramamine before all car trips.
At age four Mo fractured her skull. It happened in the evening. I was at a watercolor class. It had been a wonderful night. To celebrate my successful painting, I stopped at Wawa for an ice cream cone. When I arrived home my cheer quickly faded to horror. My tiny sweet daughter was sleepily whimpering in pain. Former husband was doing his best to keep her awake. She had fallen from the second story landing and hit the floor head first. It was terrifying. We rushed to the emergency room. After grilling us to ensure we hadn’t abused her, she was admitted.
Maureen was hospitalized for nearly a week. One young intern indicated she may have permanent brain damage. I slept on a cot by the bed, my heart breaking when she screamed out in agony. Thank God she fully recovered.
Before Mo was released the doctor told us there was a good chance she would experience seizures. He said, “No more Dramamine, that could induce convulsion.”
I lied to the kid again, saying, “Doctor Jelly Bean (his name was Bean) said the good thing about fracturing your skull is you won’t get car sick anymore. Kids with fractured skulls never throw up in the car.”
At the time I drove a blue Volvo. I remember peeking at Mo in the rear view mirror, strapped in her car seat, white as a sheet, swallowing hard and refusing to barf. I’d cheer her on, “Good for you! Fracturing your skull was good because you don’t puke anymore!”
It pretty much worked. Until we were skiing in Colorado. Mo tossed her cookies all over the backseat of a bus. My sister later rode the same bus home. She took a whiff and said, “Yup, Mo was here.”
Being a mom had its laughs. It still does. I look forward to messing with my darling grandson Tate’s impressionable young mind. And to writing him little books I will then read while he snuggles up next to me.
Happy Mother’s Day to all you Mother readers. Enjoy the journey.