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Don’t Just Stop and Smell the Flowers

Chloe’s garden was brimming with bright flowers and buzzing bees. She spent a little time with her plants every morning in her gardening outfit – a large brimmed hat, a sturdy beige apron, a basket slung over her arm and shears in hand. Chloe had a natural knack with her garden and had expanded it after she moved in. It was already the best garden on the block and since my house was next to hers, mine would always look like a poor cousin.

I had incorporated some of her strategies into my routine. I sometimes went out and checked on my flowers, usually without a hat or apron, pulled at a few weeds at times and stole glances at her pretty flowers. I wasn’t jealous of Chloe’s garden. It represented her skill and attention. She deserved appreciation for creating such beauty and I knew it gave her pleasure. Her years without a proper garden made it all the more important that she have the garden of her dreams now.

I had decided that getting my degree was my dream. I hadn’t talked to anyone else about it and felt that keeping it to myself was probably a better idea. I didn’t want a lot of questions about why I was doing it or what I expected when I finished. I hadn’t really figured all of that out yet. I just knew that I wanted to finish something for myself.

My friends seemed mostly happy with their choices. I occasionally worried that there was some reason that I couldn’t be content when I already had a lot. But then I remembered that Gail still wanted to be a nurse again and Edie had her writing. The silent siren of being more and doing more must be a bug that bites a lot of women; we must just not talk about it enough.

Since I made my quiet and personal decision, I noticed that I feel a little calmer with how my life if playing out. My children are great and Steve seems to appreciate our life here in Monterey Park. I will have to stop at the registrar’s office soon to pick up the fall course book. Maybe it is time to take some classes to really challenge me. Complanency can’t be good for anyone.

Prizefighter

Junior came home from school with a big red eye and a note from his teacher. Steve and I were being called into school to explain our son’s behavior. After I caught my breath from the physical damage, I placed an icepack on his face and made him sit at the kitchen table. I didn’t want to ask too many questions yet because whatever happened must have been right at the end of the school day and Junior was still in a lot of pain. There was also that rip in his shirt to explain and multiple scuffs on his pants and shoes. It must have been quite a fight. Junior wasn’t offering any information on the event, so I decided to wait until Steve came home to discuss whatever happened. Daisy wasn’t any better with intel and just went to her room to read. Although she did roll her eyes at me when I asked if she knew what happened.

I set the table and finished getting dinner ready as the battered boy sat with his head laying down on the icepack at his place at the table. Luckily, by the time Steve came in the door, Junior was not as red-faced and when he lifted his head, Steve did not lose his mind. I like that as good parents, we do not immediately freak out. We even started eating dinner before Steve finally asked about Junior’s day at school. Daisy immediately decided she was done eating and excused herself. I took that as a bad sign. Eventually, Junior let us know that he had been in a fight at the end of the class. Of course, Steve reviewed all the good reasons not to get into a fight and why fighting was not the answer to anything. That took us all of the way to dessert. I mentioned to Steve that we had been called into school to discuss the fight; Junior had not yet delivered too many details but Steve excused him to do his homework in his bedroom and go to sleep.

The following morning, we all drove to school together and met with Junior’s teacher before class started. The hallway was full of running children and noise, so we stepped into the principal’s office to talk freely. Junior’s teacher, Miss Periwinkle, was a petite woman but I knew by reputation that she did not put up with much nonsense. We looked like contrite parents wanting the best for our son and Steve explained that he had delivered some news about the perils of fighting to Junior the previous night. I wasn’t sure that was the message that was delivered but kept silent. Miss Periwinkle looked a little relieved and thanked him for being so forceful. She liked Junior but could not accept his decision to involve himself instead of getting a teacher’s help. We all nodded in agreement and it felt as if the conversation was coming to a close. I really still did not know what happened but accepted the fact that I would have to pry the story out of Junior at home.

As we turned to leave, I asked Miss Periwinkle if the other boy was hurt badly. She chuckled a little and looked at both of us as if we were stupid. “Boy?” she responded. Steve and I both stopped in our tracks and looked at her again. Miss Periwinkle went on to explain that Junior had been hit by a girl who was in the next grade up from his. I could see the surprise starting to form on Steve’s face and reached out to grab his arm and ask him where his manners had gone. At that point, Miss Periwinkle gave us the whole story of Junior coming to the aid of the female student who was being bullied by one of her own classmates. When Junior jumped in to stop the bully, the girl accidentally punched Junior in the eye. At that point, I let Steve smirk freely. Junior had not really done too much wrong. Defending someone else was the right thing to do; getting punched by a girl was only the byproduct.

That night at dinner, I made Junior’s favorite Spaghetti and Meatballs. His eye was turning colors and it would probably not heal for a few days, but we managed to help his ego along by telling him that he did a right thing. We also discussed the possibility of other right things he could have done to stop the bullying. Kids will be kids, but at least our kid was kindhearted. By the end of dinner, everyone was in good spirits again. I need to remember not to jump to conclusions so easily next time.

Home Schooling

It was my turn for the card party last week and I was out of fresh ideas. I think I was using too many brain cells on schoolwork. I called Mags and she made a few suggestions but none captured my imagination. I decided to do my week’s reading first and then decide. Luckily, I got an idea from that. I decided that each of my girlfriends had something to teach me. I called around and gave the instructions to each card player. There was some silence on the line after I offered my request, but no one gave me an outright no. Even Edie was coming, with Robyn, and told me that she would participate if someone would hold the baby. In reality, with that many baby-starved women in my house, Edie would never get to hold the infant.

I decorated the table with little chalkboards and some old school books and propped some pencils up in a vase. Not glamorous, but in the right spirit. Everyone arrived dressed as their favorite school teacher. It was quite hysterical to see everyone come to the front of the class of my living room and teach their lesson. Sarah taught us how to arrange flowers. Judy Anne demonstrated how to tie scarves in different ways. Chloe gave us a lesson in reading the front of wine bottles. Gail took us to the kitchen to make the perfect pie crust. Mags showed us how she applies her eyeliner to mimic a perfect cat’s eye. Edie read from one of her books and explained how she decided to create her characters. It was all very exciting. Everyone got to show off their skills and it was so much fun. We eventually got to playing cards, but only finished one game.

My choice of food was school-themed and we demolished the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit bars and chips. Of course, we didn’t just have milk to drink. A card party still needed some adult libations. I served Mudslides and one was enough for each of us. It was like an adult recess drink. For myself, I had a hard time thinking up what I could possibly teach my girlfriends. I settled on what I do best, I lectured. Well, really I just talked by telling a story. The fun part was that each of my friends were in the story. I made sure that everyone was their best self, promoted their traits that made them shine and how they positively influenced life. I guess it must have been okay because there was applause at the end.

As the party broke up, we hugged as usual and went back to our regular tasks. I really relish the chance to spend time with these women in my neighborhood. They are hard-working and take care of everyone in their care without much recognition. I suppose we all have a lot to learn from each other in life. I will have to keep that in mind when I meet new people in class. It’s not easy to figure out what I should learn from someone else, so I may need to start paying better attention.

Hurry Up

Some days feel the same as others. Lack of drama is a fact of my ideal life. My nerves have enough to deal with and don’t need any extra distractions. Running my family on a tight schedule keeps everyone in the right place at the right time. I still have the feeling that it could all fall apart with some incentive. Like not setting the alarm clock. I woke in one of those odd realizations that I had slept past the time I was supposed to. I grabbed the clock and screamed at Steve to get up. He depends on me to wake him up and I clearly had not done my duty. He jumped out of bed, most likely because I screamed and not because we had overslept. I quickly told him what happened and he ambled into the bathroom to get ready. I wondered why he didn’t seem mad. Our world order had clearly been upset. I ran into the hallway and called out to the children to get up and hoped my screaming voice prompted the correct response in them.

I hit the kitchen like a demon and started making coffee, quickly half-measuring, half-pouring grounds into the percolator basket. I filled the pot with water and spilled enough that little rivers were flowing down the side of the pot. I cranked up the gas and banged the pot down. When I had time later to think about it, I asked myself why banging everything goes along with rushing. But that was later. I could hear everyone moving around kind of quickly and by the time I had made breakfast, everyone was in their places eating like we were firefighters who had just heard the whistle go off. I shooed the kids out the door, stuffed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in Steve’s briefcase and pushed him out the door too. All the racing was probably good exercise for us and as fate allows, we had made up enough time that everyone still left for their day exactly three minutes later than normal.

As I examined the morning’s hystrionics , I wondered what the point was of getting so upset. I know lots of people who are late all of the time and don’t seem to mind. I think the difference is that they live their lives by their own code and don’t pay attention to anyone else’s. They are not necessarily rude, it’s just their way. My way is more one of making sure everything gets done and everyone gets taken care of. So, every night I take an extra second or two to double check the alarm clock. Even when I am sure I set it, I check it again. That makes me feel more secure. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I will continue to do what I need to do to meet my own expectations while trying to honor the fact that not everyone shares mine.

I Don’t Subscribe to That

I couldn’t bear to keep my thoughts to myself, which probably escalated my need to share. In Lucy’s class, one of the gentlemen had written an article according to his understanding of the assignment. Lucy was trying to help us practice different types of writing and we were assigned the task of writing a magazine piece. Magazines for women and men are full of helpful articles on various subjects designed to their niche audience. I have quite a love of magazines and have a few subscriptions. They keep me up to date on trends and new recipes. Some stories are touching real-life dramas that result in my feeling fortunate not to have to deal with more than my current life, which is pretty nice. I really don’t know why a man would feel the need to write a story for women, especially one that wasn’t married and didn’t have much real world experience with women. He did not seem like a good candidate to know what he was talking about. But Mr. Simpson, as Lucy liked to call him, had some notion to inform us all and wrote his assignment and designed it for ladies to read.

I really don’t know what Lucy was thinking but she asked Mr. Simpson to read his article out loud in class. Usually she reserves that honor for good work. There are a few more women in my class this year and I am sure Lucy was aware of the discussion this story would begin. I was listening mindlessly for the first few seconds but then the title hit me. Apparently, Mr. Simpson had prepared a list of thoughts on how a woman could catch a husband. As far as I knew, it was 1958 and the thought that women were just supposed to catch men had disappeared for the most part in the past few years. I certainly did not want my Daisy to think that her only role in life was to find a man, and for that matter, I really didn’t want Junior to think he was a good catch. Steve had never spoken to me in any manner when we were courting to make me think that my only virtue to him was as a trophy. Truth be told, I am a good wife and any man would be lucky to have me, but that was besides the point. My mother had not raised me just to find a man, but I really didn’t get any clear instructions from her on my future, so that may have been some unspoken thought. I know that Steve’s mother had some thoughts about my ability to meet her expectations but by this time I had proved my own worthiness even to her.

As I listened to the list, I knew I was getting angry. Mr. Simpson had some pretty feeble ideas on using the feminine powers of persuasion and some old-fashioned contempt of the female gender to boot. I couldn’t wait for the reading to be over and I tried to glance at Lucy to see if her face could let me in on the joke but she stood in back of me and I didn’t want to turn all of the way around and bring more attention to myself. I felt my cheeks flush with my feelings. When the cruel joke was finally over, Mr. Simpson sat down and Lucy asked for comments. I balled my fists up so I wouldn’t speak without direction and tried to listen to the comments but they were mostly on the structure of the assignment. One other female student timidly asked if the subject seemed a little out of date and I heard myself make a noise of agreement. Mr. Simpson disagreed and I lost it a little. I raised my hand to speak and Lucy asked if I wanted to make a comment. And I did. Strangely for me when I am angry, my words were well chosen and sounded as if I was providing the debate points on why the information was neither useful or necessary. Truthfully I believed that this kind of writing required women to remake themselves to fit the descriptions of others, something I did not find respectful.  I know that I spoke a little quickly but I got through it. When I was finished, there was a pause that lasted a few long seconds and the women in the class all clapped out loud. I wasn’t expecting that but it felt good. I finally looked at Lucy and she was smiling. To the benefit of everyone, the bell rang and we were all dismissed.

Leaving class, Mr. Simpson did not look at me. I am sure my thoughts didn’t matter to him but I was perfectly okay with that. On the other hand, I walked out into the corridor to find some of the other women in class waiting for me. They were acting like students who had just won an award and wanted to celebrate. We decided to all walk over to the cafeteria to sit and talk. I enjoyed our discussion that day and we made plans to get together after class each week to discuss the joys and foibles of being female. Women are good at that. We can literally find everything wrong with ourselves and then follow it with everything right. I know from the own self-talk that I can be my own best friend and worst enemy at times. I didn’t really know that everyone else was doing the same dance in their own heads. I looked forward to our weekly meetings; who knew where these conversations might lead.

 

 

 

It seemed to have a lot of fishing metaphors in

With Three You Get Eggroll

The air had a definite spring feel. The morning was clear with just the slightest bit of crisp. If you added in the luxurious streaks of sunlight, you would want everyday to start this way. The change in each season prompts a change in my cooking habits. I probably cook the least in summer. Fall brought in the soups and stews and winter required comforting meals. Spring meant new to me. I always started the season by rifling through my recipe box for some favorites and checked out the ladies magazines for some new treats. The only thing kink in my system was that the magazines usually arrive well before the actual season starts and I get too excited about changing my style. I suppose I have season impatience.

Despite knowing that about myself, as soon as I saw the blueberries arrive at Martel’s grocery, I bought too many. They were easily made into pancakes and muffins, but I wanted something that could be enjoyed later in the day also. That’s when my Lemon-Blueberry Bread comes in handy. I made three loaves so that I could give the extras to Mags and Chloe. The bread came out perfectly and everyone could enjoy a slice as a snack before dinner. I had planned to get very experimental with the leftover bread the next day and wanted to butter slices and grill them in a skillet. I reasoned that it would be delicious with my mid-morning cup of coffee. My own treat.

The challenge of living in a neighborhood of good cooks who share similar thoughts is funny sometimes. The day I made the extra loves for Chloe and Mags was so pretty outside I couldn’t wait to share my freshly baked treats. I grabbed a sweater and the lightly wrapped breads and headed first to Mags’ house across the street. She was happy to see me and invited me in for a quick talk. As we entered her kitchen, I saw three loaves of banana bread cooling on a rack. I handed her my offering and she chuckled and pointed to the ones she had made, noting that one of them was for me. We were happy to exchange one gift for another and I headed back across the street to Chloe’s. I went around to Chloe’s back door since that is where I generally enter, and the back door was cracked open a little. Some great smells were coming out of that kitchen. I gently knocked and called out to Chloe. By this time, I had my one loaf from Mags in one hand and the one to give to Chloe in the other. As I entered the kitchen, my story about the exchange of breads came spilling out of me. Chloe laughed and pointed over to the bread loaves she had baked with one marked with my name on it. We both laughed at the coincidence.

When I got home I realized how lucky I was. I left with only Lemon-Blueberry Bread in the house and came home with Banana Bread and a loaf of Chloe’s finest Farmer’s White bread. My family would probably be overjoyed to think that I had baked all of that for them. My only question was which treat to offer first?

Lucky Me

Daisy and I like to play cards together sometimes when we are just sitting together at the kitchenette. She is getting very good at some of the easier ones. Junior would prefer to play Solitaire and likes to spread out his cards on the floor in front of him as he is watching TV. Steve plays poker occasionally with the guys in our neighborhood. I don’t mind when they disappear into someone’s rec room for a night of cards, but I don’t like the smell of cigars and that seems to go hand in hand with the playing. I have never figured out why. Of course, my group plays cards every couple of weeks during the school year and only breaks when the children are out for the holidays and vacation. I enjoy the conversation before and after the games. Some of my girlfriends can get pretty serious when playing and don’t like a lot of chit chat while the game is going on. It’s probably something about focus. I don’t mind winning or losing. I guess I just enjoy the social aspects.

Lucy wanted a story about luck for St. Patrick’s day. I was a little blocked about what to write and was probably being overly introspective about the meaning of fortune. I feel very fortunate in my life. Good husband, good kids, good friends, good life. I wondered more about how we decided we had met our expectations more than what the expectations were. I didn’t think it was just luck that was driving me along. I decided to do the only right thing. I called Chloe and invited her to join me for lunch at the Chinese restaurant in town. Chloe laughed a little when I asked her to join me. We had never gone there together before and truthfully, I only stopped there sometimes to get take out as a treat for the family.

The first thing I noticed was the smell of the restaurant as we entered. It was more exotic than my kitchen smell. Warmer too. The intense heat needed to cook was most likely the reason for the humidity in the air. We took our seats and Chloe started to read the menu. She said the columns made her dizzy. I ordered tea for both of us figuring that would give us more time to choose. When the lovely waitress returned and poured our tea for us, I stopped and asked her what she recommended. Chloe listened intently as she quickly mentioned a few favorites of most customers. I figured that the favorites she told us about were safe choices that she thought we would like. Chloe gave up and ordered the last item she mentioned. I know that Chloe had no idea what she had just ordered from the look of her face and the shrug of her shoulders. I told the waitress that I felt lucky and asked her to surprise me. Before she left the table, she asked us if we wanted an appetizer. Chloe looked at me and decided to follow my lead. She said yes and surprise us with that also.

This was going to either be great or awful. Cooking for a family every day gives you the advantage of knowing what you are going to eat for every meal. I could never imagine just coming home and sitting down to a mystery that someone else had prepared. We enjoyed our tea and it seemed special with the little traditional cups and teapot. The appetizer was delivered and did not look like anything I could identify because they were little dumplings that sat upright. There were some dipping sauces also. The waitress told us to just try them when we looked at her quizzically.  Chloe went first and dipped one into a sauce daintily. She closed her eyes and took a bite. Her face was a mixture of surprise and interest. Chloe said that it was good and encouraged me to try too. I did and tried enough of the little pockets of dough to try both dipping sauces. They were delicious. The meat inside was finely ground and tasted good but I still didn’t know what it really was. I just knew it tasted yummy.

When it came time for the entrees, the waitress brought out Chloe’s and what must have been the cook brought out the other. He was dressed in an apron and had covered his hair to work in the kitchen. He put the dish down in front of me and I looked at it trying to figure out what it was. There were some noodles, some vegetables, some shrimp and some kind of sauce. He told me eat and repeated himself when I hesitated. As I started to pick up a fork, he gently placed his hand on mine and handed me some chopsticks. I have never been very talented with chopsticks but I did not want to disrespect the gentleman. He formed my fingers around them and motioned for me to bend forward and dive in. I did. It was a little messy but I eventually got it down well enough to pick up some food and get it into my mouth. It was delicious and I looked up at him and smiled. He clapped his hands and returned to his work. Chloe laughed at me but took a few tries with her chopsticks also, although she went back to eating with a fork because she said she was too hungry to worry about how she was eating.

After the delicious meal, some fortune cookies and ice cream were delivered to the table. We hadn’t ordered dessert but the waitress told us that the cook wanted us to have them because we had trusted him to make our lunch. It all came down to trust. We opened the cookies and read our fortunes and found reasons to believe them. More trust. I wrote my paper on the luncheon experience and Lucy told me that she was going to go to the same restaurant and do the same thing we did. Choose to trust. Maybe that’s why Steve just sits down at the table and never asks me what we are having for dinner. I guess after all this time, he trusts my cooking. I guess he’s just lucky that way.

Don’t Read Me A Story

Being good at many things is natural for most people. Determining what those things are is usually more difficult. I never thought about writing earlier in life. Nobody ever thought anything I had ever done was worth mentioning. I was a “serious” child according to my family’s mythology and read a lot. I remember one year when my secret goal was to read every orange-bound book in our neighborhood library. They were the biographies and I loved reading about how other people navigated through life. Most of our school lives were superseded by world events and the little bit of fun we managed to have in high school were mostly stolen away moments. Life seemed bigger than us; what we did was less important on the individual scale. I wanted Junior and Daisy to grow up knowing what they were good at. They were very different and were good at their own things. If they had some recognition about what their skills were, they could make better choices earlier in terms of college and careers. I wanted them both to go father than Steve and I had gone. Opportunities were limitless if you knew what you wanted.

I always go to any event at school that involves helping out in the off chance that I could glean some information from talking to one of the children’s  teachers. Junior’s teachers were good about sending home a note when he wasn’t working up to par or some other weird event occurred. I hadn’t heard much from Daisy’s teachers yet but she seems to like school and goes without complaint. When the Mother’s Club decided to have a spring drive to collect books, I thought it would be a good event to help out with. We could clear out some used books at the same time we cleaned out the bookcase. I asked Junior to come and tackle his collection to have his input on what we didn’t think he would read again. We started by taking all of his books off of the shelves and sorted and stacked them. Junior gave away some books easier than others. I realized when we were done and ready to box the books that he had given up more adventure books and kept the biographies. I even asked him again if he had sorted the piles correctly. Eventually I had to ask why he had wanted to keep the books about people. His answer was simple and to the point. Junior said that he liked reading about real people more than fake people. It was a good description of how he felt about fiction. I could identify with liking real people more. I let Junior place his treasures back on the shelves while I took the donation box out to the car.

The next day, I arrived at school to help the other mothers sort through books and prepare them to go to the donation center. There was a huge selection of books. It really made me think about the importance of keeping a better supply of books available for the children. When school was over, I drove Junior and Daisy over to the book store. Instead of heading right to my favorite parts of the displays, we went back to the children’s section and I told the kids to pick out some books. They immediately wanted to know how many. I wanted to leave that question unanswered to see what their response would be so I just told them that we would discuss how many they could buy after they looked around. It must be a natural habit for younger people to just open a book, get comfortable and start reading. In about three minutes, both of them were on the floor enjoying different books. Each was examined with some secret definition of whether it would make the cut. After a few minutes of standing, I finally gave up and joined them on the floor, checking out my own choices. The saying that books can’t be judged by a cover may be true, but it is pretty much the way we decide to look inside of one. Junior had a small stack next to him of possible choices and Daisy was slowly picking through the books at her level. After about 30 minutes, I told the children to start to wrap up their decisions. There were two groans, which I interpreted as a good sign. There was some last minute horse trading between a couple of titles, but each child ended up with three books. I thought that was a good sign; not greedy or frivolous and manageable reading. We purchased the books and headed home.

After dinner time was quiet that night and both Junior and Daisy disappeared into their rooms to get in some extra bedtime reading time. Steve asked me if they were sick but I explained that we had bought some new books and the reaction on his face was a mixture of surprise and pride. One of the most heart-warming feelings of parenting is knowing you have good kids. It gives you a sense of relief to know you haven’t completely messed them up. I also liked that the children were identifying what interested them. I was going to start paying closer attention to these choices to understand where their paths were headed. I didn’t want their everyday choices to go unnoticed. In the end, I realized that books are very personal choices. What makes one more intriguing than another is our own point of view. It’s nice to know that my own young children are developing their own tastes.

Spring Forward

It’s March and I could not keep my hat on my head. The winds have been so strong this month that every time I walked across campus I ended up with one hand on my hat and one on my bag carrying my books. I felt as if I was being pushed from behind by some mean spirit that wanted me to hurry along. I was ready for my midterms and had worked steadily on my writing projects. I expected to do well in the open book test and still wondered why life couldn’t have an open book for me to consult. I know I would get a better grade in motherhood if I could research some answers with an expert.

The result of all the blowing wind were pockets of discarded debris at the corners of walkways as the forces cleaned up the open spaces. Little piles of leaves waited patiently for the spring clean up crew to neatly scoop them up and toss it all away. My spring cleaning schedule was packed with tasks and I had made a little chart to complete it all over the course of the month. Each bedroom would require a thorough cleaning and the kitchen and bathrooms each got their own days. Getting behind the living room furniture was scheduled for a Saturday so Steve could move the big stuff. Steve was also beginning to get that itch to start cleaning up outdoors and lingered at the picture window plotting his attack on the lawn. As soon as the weather improved enough, he would be out there discussing what products to spread on his green carpet. The changing weather also kindled his need to clean off his clubs and start swinging them around to see if he could overextend his shoulder before even hitting the course.

As I was carrying out a box of old clothes for donation, Steve took the box and put down his driver. It was shiny; that man can clean. I joked that I wished we could just open all the windows and doors to let the wind blow the whole house clean. Steve let me know that he and Harold were going to go hit some balls at the practice tees. I told him that his idea sounded like fun and a great way to warm up. My quick agreement may have thrown him off a little and he asked me if I minded that they were going to practice. I gave Steve a kiss on the cheek and told him to enjoy himself. As I turned and went back to the door I reminded Steve of his Christmas present. It registered on his face just as I was turning back around. He remembered we were going to start playing golf together. There was a mixture of emotions on his face. I tried not to judge him too harshly and went into the house.

I went back to my next cleaning project. Later, I sat down at the kitchenette and picked up one of my clubs that I had brought inside earlier from my bag. Yes, spring cleaning is getting done this year. I’ve got to make some time for my golf game.

The Sighting of the First Robyn

Babies have their own mysterious clocks. One day, a pregnant woman is busily cleaning every nook and cranny of the closet and the next day, a pudgy stranger who looks mildly familiar is staring back at her. Little Robyn arrived after a long night of labor for Edie. A happy, healthy baby girl who cried joyfully upon her arrival. When Edie was settled back in her room, Artie made a call to the name Edie gave him and we all got the news. Artie started handing out cigars, the appropriate response for new fathers. Baby Robyn was tended to by no-nonsense nurses who rolled the bassinet down to Edie’s hospital room every 3 hours on schedule to promote lactation. Exhausted Edie held court in a flower filled room dressed in a quilted bed jacket of light green satin. I noticed that she had already combed her hair and held it back with a sunshine yellow headband. I visited at the same time as Mags and we snuck in a small stash of cigarettes and matches in case Edie needed them. Edie had endured a lot of heartburn at the end of her pregnancy and wanted mostly to eat. While Edie spent the next few days at the hospital, Artie visited daily, always bringing a large bouquet of flowers. The smell in her room was funereal but the flowers looked pretty.

For the first few days after Edie came home, we took turns going over as Artie returned to work. This way, Edie would be able to bathe and change her clothes without worry. Robyn was adorable with a tiny cupid’s bow mouth and dark blue eyes under little wisps of blonde hair. On the day I spent with Edie, she came out of the bedroom with tears in her eyes while I rocked the baby. Edie admitted to having some sad feelings and thought it might just be because she missed Artie. The blues aren’t unusual after having a baby and most of the women I knew admitted to having some moments of sadness after they came home from the hospital. Gail always denied having any baby blues with any of her three, but Gail is like our Mother Earth figure. I am sure the nights were harder but Edie wasn’t complaining and she kept the baby nearby at night for ease. I told her that I used to vacuum holding my babies when they wouldn’t stop crying. I told her that the sound of the vacuum drowned out both my crying and the babies’ tears. Eventually, our moods lightened and the carpets went back to their regular cleaning schedule.

New mothers are supposed to be happy and pleasant. The real truth behind the facade was there were feelings of inadequacy, sleep deprivation and fear that you didn’t know what you were doing. A new mother’s body often felt flabby and very much like a cow expected to produce copious amounts of milk. I remember not being able to get into my girdle for weeks. I reminded Edie that she could talk to any of us who had babies previously about her feelings but she shooed me off. I just wanted her to know that it was safe to be real, but so hard to do. I know that Edie will be okay; we mothers always are. Just the same, I think I’ll be attentive a little longer using that beautiful baby as a good excuse to visit more often. Edie had a lot of experience with romance, so once she fell completely in love with her new baby, she could write her own love story for Robyn.