It was one-thirty in the morning, and Tessa sat beside me on the couch playing
Pet-shops Old-maid, solitaire style. That is what happens when you take a nap at 7PM and wake up at 10. I was pooped, (yes, I said pooped!) after doing The Shred (Jillian Michael's butt-kicking workout) and then gardening with Kathy and Bishop. Well, you could call it gardening, or you could call it Looking for Spiders in Creepy Ivy, or perhaps Making Big Piles of Yard Crap on the Curb so that your Neighbors can see what SLOBS You Really Are (in case they ever doubted.)
Then last night we had a special surprise. My sister, who lives in Utah, came to visit us with her hubby. It was so wonderful to see her and be in the same space with her. We ate and laughed,
and I asked myself how I could live so far away from her.
When I was born, my sister Julie was 11. I adored her. I wanted to be just like her. I was sure she was magical. When I would wake up from a nap and see her little white weekend suitcase in the living room, I knew JuJu was here, and that for the next day or two I would sit on her lap, have her braid my hair, and hold her hand as we took walks. She was like a real life, honest-to-goodness fairy godmother. She had honey-gold hair, in perfectly straight seventies style. She was the one who explained to me that the ends of my long hair were comprised of the actual hair that had been on my head when I was a baby. After she told me that, I wouldn't let anyone even trim my hair for years.
Julie is technically my half sister, and only stayed with us on the weekends, but I didn't know what any of it meant or why I had to say goodbye through eyes clouded with tears every Sunday afternoon. I just knew I loved her, I knew she loved me, and I couldn't understand why we ever had to be apart.
As my sister and I worked side by side in the kitchen yesterday, she told me about my mother. Our eyes misted and I listened in awe as she described a woman that I only knew in my own way, as her daughter. But Julie saw her as a beautiful step-mother, the antithesis of all step-mother archetypes. She told me that if she were to name the most influential people in her life, my mother would be among the choice few at the top of her list.
Today I went to lunch with Wise-Woman Chantal and we talked about mothering. She said that every child, even if they have the same parents as a sibling, have completely different parents. Different, because they respond specifically to that child's unique personality, specific behaviors and individual spirit. No two children can ever have the same parents.
Who do my children have? I know I react differently to each one in their moments of fear or sadness. Some of them probably get more compassion and empathy than others. I usually see myself as "just being the mom", and it never occurred to me that I am being "Ethan's Mom" and "Adam's Mom", and so on... times five. Even if I tried to be completely consistent with each child, I would still be seen differently by them, because they are different.
Jonah discovers cherries.
Julie gave me another gift last night, one that was my mother's to give. When Mom was alive, she gave my babies a bath in the kitchen sink when she came to visit. It was so special to me, though I am not sure why. I guess it just gave me a picture to carry with me in my heart wherein she was frozen in time, forever enjoying my child. I loved seeing Mom with babies she loved, and I loved it that I had been able to give her grand babies to nibble on. I can still hear her voice saying "Please pass the baby", the way someone might ask you to pass the butter.
It felt right to see Julie soaping up baby Jonah,
tickling and teasing and coaxing smiles and kisses.
She gave Jonah a bath, and she gave me
a new way of remembering my mother.