The Mothers Day Hotline 2017

Good morning, and thank you for calling the Mother’s Day Hotline.

If you are waiting in bed for a tray of burnt toast, spilt juice, and a macaroni necklace, enjoy the following selections at leisure. Otherwise, please choose carefully.

If you are currently considering becoming a mother, please press 1.

If you are pregnant and searching for baby names, please press 2.

If you are wondering what it’s like to give birth, please press 3.

If you have a newborn and and need direction on what type of mommy to be, please press 4.

If you are currently surrounded with toddlers, please press 5.

If you are mothering elementary school age children, please press 6.

If you have children in the middle school zone, please press 7.

If your teens have made a strike towards independence, please press 8.

If you are desperate for a “mom break” by now, please press 9.

If you are considering leaving them all behind and rejoining the work force, please press pound.

If your children are grown and flown from the nest, and you want to sob hysterically because it all went too fast, please press the star key.

Thank you for calling the Mothers Day Hotline. Enjoy your toast and tea. See you again next week.

At Dawn

The rising sun is still a suggestion, painting a faint glow around the window shutters.

The house feels like calm clear water, a faint refrigerator hum, one sparrow singing his personal thoughts on summer flits off to another backyard.

Here in the darkness it is very content and warm and full of possibility, and for one moment, my mind merges with the babe about to enter this world today.

I sit on the couch and listen to the soft breathing of the two-year-old while her parents drive to the birthing grounds across town.

Watching her mama quietly prepare to leave, I recognized her aura…her knowing.

It is a purely female current that hums and sparks with purpose and courage, and it runs very deep.

The release of long days of waiting lifted from her shoulders and her back straightened with complete focus on the present.

A woman in labor is a formidable thing.

A woman in labor holds enough inner force and focus to stop an army in it’s tracks.

A woman in labor knows that there is only one conclusion to this event: the baby is out.

Quitting is not an option.

And everybody better get out of the way.

Or everybody needs to gather around.

Or both, every other five minutes.

As I sit here, there are more memories joining me than will have room on the page, because once you’ve had a baby you will never forget it. It had never occurred to you that you held that kind of power within your body; that your body could rise up and bring forth life like that.

You try to explain it to someone who hasn’t tried it, and they want to believe you, that their body has that level of strength too, that it lies within the mitochondria to kick into autopilot and explode into new life. The cells create new cells, another person’s cells, nourish them, protect them, and then force them out to exist as a whole separate being.

How this miraculous creation is taken so casually by everyone else not in active labor, is beyond me.

But we all do it.

Put a group of moms together and you will hear the inevitable birth stories and roll your eyes because if you wanted to hear so much TMI you could watch PBS at two in the morning.

They compare episiotomies the way a WWII vet talks about his war scars.

They want to know they aren’t the only ones who just went through that world-shattering event.

For mothers, the world will never be the same.

They wonder if they ever want to go through it again.

Mothers cannot believe that a womb can expand that much, and after the birth, they cannot believe that a heart can expand that much.

Mothers cannot believe how much a child can kick these organs and yet all of it remain intact.

A mother is one of the strongest things ever invented.

The sun has risen now, inevitable, changing the ambience of this home from waiting to fulfillment, and brightness fills the room as I open the shutters.

A single text pops up on my phone: baby brother has arrived.

The little one stirs in her big girl bed, dreams slowly giving way to thoughts of a new day and the marvels it may hold.

I will write more about this thing called ‘motherhood’.

But for now, all of my best memories must patiently wait while I make some tea and cuddle a toddler and lay claim to the humming deep in my cells.

 

Brawn Before Brains

So.

My practically 25 year old son (I’m only counting because I read in National Geographic that my teenagers’ brains won’t fully develop until they are 25 and my held breath is getting thin) called last week and informed me that he “might be coming by” tomorrow.

This was call for celebration, as he moved thirty minutes away and now sighting him is as rare as seeing Bigfoot.

My response was a bit enthusiastic and I didn’t really ask him, you know, why he was coming over.

Enough to know the child cared.

I cleared my schedule, just in case.

When his car pulled up in front of the house the next day, I speed dialed Hubby.

“He’s here!” I told him, opening the front door, “Just now!”

Hubby immediately left work, calling an extended lunch break, and raced home to see the kid.

I hugged my tall, skinny firstborn and pulled him into the house, saying, “Come sit down and let me feed you!”

This is what moms do. Feed kids.

I put some leftover chili into a big bowl and said, “Wait. Why aren’t you at work today?”

I checked the giant wall calendar to see if I had missed a major holiday.

It’s happened.

“I’ve got the next two days off work,” replied the kid, reaching for a spoon, “I can’t use my hands right now.”

I did a double take.

His palms, forearms and elbows were ground up.

As in, there were holes where body bits should be.

I stood there speechless as Hubby walked in.

“Hey!” said Hubby, “Long time no see, kid! How’s it going?”

He paused as the kid held up his hands for inspection.

I lost my appetite.

“Well,” stammered Hubby, valiantly reaching for a bowl, “um, that looks painful. What happened?”

Our eldest rides a vintage 10-speed bicycle that he loves, whether he owns a car or takes the train. Last week, it was in the shop for a tune-up and new tires, and it had just come back, sparkling clean and itching for a ride.

He lives at the top of a hill.

The hill bottoms out onto a major roadway.

“Mom,” he used to say, “you know I love to ride fast…”

He admits that he was going much faster than his usual way-too-fast down the hill and that his rear tire must have hit a small pebble.

Our son has never worn a helmet, not even after he split open his head on a brick wall in high school.

“Mom,” he says, “you know I know how to roll when I fall. I never come close to hitting my head.”

His sounds of imminent destruction alerted a gardener doing yard work nearby. He ran over to my son, lying sprawled in the middle of the road, and tried to drag him out of harm’s way.

“Mom,” says my son, “you know a car has never come near me.”

His girlfriend drove over and carried him and his bike back up the hill and they put his pieces back together.

“Mom, you know that doctors can’t do anything.”

I fell into a seat half-way through his story and eyed his body up and down, wondering what mangled body bits under his clothes were being hidden.

“Mom, you know I heal fast. There’s nothing broken or anything. My shoulder hurts a little on the inside, but I think it’s fine,” he said, tackling the chili with gusto.

“The shoulder you broke when you were skim-boarding a few years ago?” asked Hubby, trying to choke down some lunch.

The kid reached for more cornbread, “Oh, I’m fine, I just can’t lift heavy stuff because of my hands.”

I passed him the butter.

“This probably isn’t the best time,” continued the kid, “but I’ve been shopping around for a while, and as long as I’m here I thought I’d ask you guys if you would mind co-signing with me on a motorcycle.”

Hubby gave him one long look.

“Well,” said the kid, “I had to ask.”

He pulled out his phone. “Here, let me show you the helmet and jacket I’ve picked out for riding.”

I stared out the window, one hand on the cool, smooth countertop.

There were my sturdy, giant oaks and distant hawks, circling overhead, and a leaf had fallen into the pool.

This is what moms do. They breathe.

Unless, of course, they are holding their breath, waiting for certain kids’ brain cells to mature.

As Hubby prepared to get back to work and the kid gathered himself up to leave, I hugged them both good-bye.

Hubby’s was a little fierce, but he’s a solid guy.

Then, cuddled in my arms for one brief second was a pudgy dimpled ten-month-old with a smile that could light up Christmas.

Hugging me back was a limber young man who turned his bright smile to me and said, “Love you, mom.”

And this is what moms do.

They let go.