Thursday, November 5, 2009

Clips in the Mail

My sweet mum thinks of me all the time. I know it by the amount of clips in the mail. At day's end when she relaxes in her spot on the couch next to the side table, she reads and clips. And thinks of me.

I see her there in that spot over the years. As a teen after cheerleading practice I would come through the door and sometimes find her lying down and resting before dinner prep. Sunday evenings with her slippers on and her feet up she would sip tea and read the paper. Some times she'd be there sewing buttons on various articles of clothing, or watching the Red Sox, or drafting a note to a family member or writing a check to one of the charities my parents support.

There she sat. My consistent, thoughtful, loving mother.

In some ways we are cut from different cloths. She is not a worrier and her idea of panic is when she loses her keys (or my dad in a mall). Me--I obsess over things I have no control over and have a mind that races with wild horrific thoughts. That would never occur to her to do. She trusts God, turns things over to Him and moves on. What an amazing example she is.

A couple of autumns ago I brought the girls home to surprise my mom for her birthday. We drove from Massachusetts to New Hampshire one day to visit my gram. On the way home with the girls asleep in the back of the cozy car my mom and I chatted about her college years-- how she left Nursing school to marry my dad and raise my brother. She spoke about how she was Class President and how she performed in Glee Club for a young senator from Massachusetts-- Senator Edward Kennedy.

I had no idea how accomplished and well respected she was in her college years. I do know how sorry she was that she did not finish her education as she was married and had my brother and followed my father to Stanford where he got his doctorate instead.

I also did not know how hard she tried to go back to school in California but her credits did not transfer and then when she returned to Massachusetts to finish her schooling years later the credits no longer counted.

Throughout my growing years I never thought of my mother as the bright, driven college student who lost her chance of completing her education and becoming a nurse. I did always think of her as the quintessential mother as it came so naturally to her and she thrived in her role.

She was the mom packing notes in my lunchboxes, making pancakes on Sunday mornings in her apron, applying lipstick moments before my dad was due home from the office, driving me to and from ballet, cheerleading, and friend's houses for sleepovers, beaming from the bleachers at our cheer competitions, primping me in my costume before ballet recitals, stirring the fizz out of the ginger ale and filling the Tupperware bowl with oyster crackers when my belly was upset, singing "K-K-K-Katie" to me before bed each night, saying heartfelt prayers, making Baby Jesus Birthday cake on Christmas Eve and sherry cofffee cake on Christmas morning, paying for my wedding dress with Savings Bonds she'd purchased over the years with random birthday money and funds she acquired in various ways as she was a stay at home mom but so wanted to give me this precious gift.

I always dreamed of one day being exactly like her. To this day she is my benchmark on how I should be raising my girls. So many days I feel very inadequate in comparison to her.

My mom created a mother's journal for me with a collection of family memories about her childhood. She told me how her great grandfather worked in Whitman, Mass at the "Toll House Restaurant" where Ruth Wakefield created the first chocolate chip cookie! She wrote about how my maternal great grandmother and paternal grandmother were college educated, how my paternal great grandfather graduated from Tufts University and was active in politics, and how my maternal grandfather was cronies with quite a few of the Boston Brahmin when he ran his Volkswagen dealerships on Beacon Hill and in Brookline--including Former Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill.

And she candidly told me that her childhood was not a very happy one. Her parents divorced when she was just a toddler. She divided her time between her parents who remarried and went on to have large families. She'd travel by train to one home that bustled with six kids and back to her mother's house where she was the eldest of ten.

The life she gave me and my brothers was idyllic. Clearly she created this world for us--not out of mirroring her own--but instead by reinventing it.

I recently received this clip in the mail.

"Where did I come from?" the baby asked its mother. She answered, half-crying, half- laughing, and clasping the baby to her breast, 'You were hidden in my heart as its desire, my darling. You were in the dolls of my childhood games.'"-poet Rabindranath Tagore

In her lovely penmanship she wrote the following--
"I loved this! I, too, used to dream as a child playing dolls what my baby girl would look like. You answered my dream. I love being your mom."

And I love being her girl. My mother and I share a great respect for one another and while our lives have not been identical in so many ways our hearts do appear to share the same beat.

I just now opened the memory book she gave me back in 1998 before I had children of my own and read some more of her words, "You have enriched my life in ways no one else could woman giving to another- a gift I lived through you in some of your activities. I learned from you to take risks. I don't like change and you blossom in it. You are a trusted, true friend and you are truly genuine--what you see of you is what you are. You go for things you want and you believe in yourself. You are a great communicator. My greatest hope for you is that you will be happy and have children who love you as you love me."

One day not long from now my girls will receive clips in the mail and when they do they will know I am thinking of them just as my mom thinks of me. And I trust our hearts will be beating in time.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Freckled Faces and Fairy Tales

"A face without freckles is like a sky without stars"~ Natasha Bettingfield

Dearest Liv Love and Audrey Girl,

I could not let one more day pass without telling you both how wonderful you are. Your presence in my life is such a blessing. As a little girl I had such dreams of what my own children would be like.

I looked at you tonite across the dinner table and fell madly in love with you both all over again. I tend to do it all the time, you know. It's usually when I'm tucking you in at night, or watching you walk to class or in to gymnastics, Liv. Audrey girl when you greet me at the end of the school day and give me a thumbs-up from the swimming pool during class--I melt.

I love the handmade cards and notes that you create during the day because I am on your mind, Audrey. Olivia, when you bound in to the car and announce your latest AR score and cheerfully ask me how my day was I thank God for you.

At the school play tonite seated in the audience with you both it happened again. The rush of love I receive just being in your presence is magical. Olivia you sit with your legs crossed fully engaged and simply beautiful. Your bright teeth and shiny hair and strong limbs appear ready to take on the world! I love your spirit.

Audrey, how many kisses you must have planted on me in just over an hour's time.

Girls, the way you thank me for taking you to church, sweetly sing in the car, hold my hand when we're walking, and always compliment me about my mothering, my appearance, my meals--oh my! You can see why I am so grateful to you and why I love you so deeply.

Olivia Bliss, how dedicated you are in school. I watch you in your classroom with great pride. I know how focused you are and how well you want to do. I hear you doing homework with your father and how very hard you work at it. Way to go, my Livvie B!

I know how well respected and admired you are by your peers. You are the girl on the playground at recess that is tumbling and dancing and leading the charge. You are also helping out the "special needs" kids and playing with them--making them feel finally that they, too, are normal. You take on your role in patrol with devotion. And it shows.

I watch you at gymnastics and I love how much enjoyment you get out of your weekly training. Nine hours, girl, and you never complain. Oh, Olivia, you have grown up so much.

I do look at your sweet face--your dancing eyes, freckled nose, big smile that affects every part of your beautiful face and I fondly remember your newborn days, the baby days, the toddler days, the pre-school ones, the first elementary school years and while I pine for them I also see my grown-up girl. A thriving, smart, beautiful, caring, talented, sweet child. Of mine.

Audrey E, my wise, wise girl. The talks we share! The questions you ask! The things you know. Oh my, girl. Look out world. Today's discussion on the ellipse and dramatic pause, how you knew about "pirating videos" (an illegal act you say), quoting silly jokes from a joke book and remarking on how "cheesy" jokes from joke books tend to be!

How you handle responsibility and homework and how wonderful it is as a parent to hear from your teacher, "She is an amazing listener".

How tender your heart is. The way you speak to others is beautiful. The way you really "see" others helps me to be a better person.

I love how you wear girly girl things and have little trinkets and purses and shoes that click when you walk! I love your laughter and your singing and how much you treasure your big sis.

Just as I tell God every night at your bedsides I will say it all of my days, "Thank you God for giving me Olivia Bliss and Audrey E."

You are both exactly what I envisioned my little girls would be like. Silly. Pretty. Happy. Bright. And freckle faced. You are my dreams come true.