My heart has itched to write this blog post all summer long and as my maternity leave comes to an end in just three short weeks, I have to say how much I will miss Tuesdays.
Since Alaire’s birth, we visit my parents in Salem every Tuesday. For one, it gives me a chance to go running and two, it gives my parents some good grandparent time. Many of my Tuesday runs included day dreaming about what I wanted to say in this post, a couple of times I even made myself cry over my thoughts, requiring a stop and walk stretch to catch my breath. So here it goes…
Though the years, my Ma and I certainly experienced some disagreements, primarily when “discussing” religion or politics over too many glasses of wine; like two teenage siblings, we KNOW how to push one another’s hot buttons (though I think we finally learned not to drink and discuss). But now, in the throes of motherhood, I understand my mom in a much deeper way and must express my immense appreciation for all she gave throughout my childhood.
At 19 years old, after two years of marriage my mom gave birth to me. As the story goes, my mother labored for 36 hours, pushed for 12, finally having me Caesarean. Being three weeks late, I weighed 9 pounds 12 ounces, no wonder there was no pushing me out the old fashion way. At 36 and feeling under prepared to have my first child, I marvel at the responsibility my mother assumed at 19. My brother came along two and a half years later and before his first birthday my father dropped the bomb (via a late night phone call) that he was leaving. Never one to buy into the notion of “victim-hood” my Ma marched on with the love and support of my grandparents and I really only remember my early childhood days as happy. A few years later, my mom remarried and gave us a little sister with bright red hair (which is particularly significant since I am brunette and my brother is blonde), and who, we would soon discover was born deaf and legally blind. Three kids equal chaos even in normal circumstances, but according to my memories, my mom took all three of us and my sister’s challenges in beautiful stride. Soon life included sign language classes, hearing and speech center events and learning how to be a part of the deaf community. I am certain perseverance and resilience, two of my best qualities, are gifts handed down directly from my mother.
While I know financial resources were quite limited, my mom found a way to allow us to sport the latest styles from L.A. Gear high tops to esprit school bags. And, as I discovered my joy of singing and performing, as cliché as it sounds, my mother was my biggest fan. My best (and only number) was God Bless the U.S.A singing and signing. My mom sewed me a blue satin dress with silver stars and a sequin belt. Between talent shows, star search semi-finals, church performances and family gatherings my poor mother must have heard that song hundreds (no exaggeration) of times.
Another memory that strikes me is when I competed in the Oregon Junior Miss pageant between my junior and senior year of high school. The show included about 5 costume changes and my mother made me a dress for each one. Most impressive was my formal gown made of emerald green shantung with a delicate hand-sewn lace trim around the bottom hem. My mom took me to a special fabric store in Portland to shop for the lace and you bet we found just the right thing, which I’m sure was about $40 a yard. I sincerely hope my siblings weren’t forced to eat ramen noodles so I could have my lace. During the week leading up to the competition, all of the contestants stayed with home-stays and my mother sent me with a basket of gifts and inspirational notes with instructions to open one each day. The thought, time and heart that went into these little gifts creates a lump in my throat to this day and I just want to say, Mom, I remember and I appreciate.
Before having Alaire, there are a few things my mother said when I was growing up that I swore I would never say to my daughter:
1) You’re so dramatic!
2) Look at those Clawd-Hoppers! (Claud Hop•pers, 1. The lower extremity of the vertebrate leg that is in direct contact with the ground in standing or walking. 2. Commonly known as big feet)
3) Give Alaire a ridiculous nickname like Poops (seriously, the entire family still calls me poops)
To my amusement, I have already said both #1 and #2 to Alaire multiple times in her short three and a half months of life and Graham and I called her, “little goat” for the first two months of her life. Now we lovingly call her “monkey” and I am sure there will be sillier nicknames assigned as her personality blooms. I happily accept a few revelations from this; I take myself less seriously since becoming a mother, I understand that the above statements when spoken by my mother were meant to be terms of endearment rather than criticisms, and it is inevitable I am a lot like my mother….and proud of it…
I cannot end this post without mentioning Don, or rather Dad, the name he really deserves. Those of you who know my story know of Kari, my best friend during senior year and now officially my step-sister. As I watch Don/Dad hold and cuddle my daughter for hours every Tuesday, I can only think how proud Kari would be watching her Dad as a “puddle of mush” Grandpa. Thank God for Mom & Dad…and Tuesdays.