in praise of those who get us through…and raise the kiddies, too
every once in a while, you hear a story, ‘bout some super nanny, just shy of mary poppins maybe, maybe one who doles out only three-quarters of a teaspoon of sugar with every lump of medicine.
regardless of the nitty-gritty, you hear these tales of someone loving and kind and supercalifragilisticexpialidocious who, well, arrives on the doorstep not long after the stork makes its deposit, and then never really leaves.
that extraordinary someone puts up with it all: the babies who howl through dinner time, the little boys who can’t possibly watch enough trains go up and down the tracks (and so they sit trackside watching and whoo-whoo-ing and clapping crazily for hours on end).
why, they are there to teach little ones how to throw a baseball, tie a shoe, and the difference between a butterfly and a moth. out on their daily rounds, the little one and the keepers of the children might make whole flocks of friends. they might come to know the crossing guard by name, and the lady at the bakery who always picks out the oatmeal cookie with the fattest raisins.
these someones seem to have something for every passage, from secret potions to cure a diaper rash to how to make the letter “a” not look as if it’s whirling down a drain, spiraling off the page. even how to execute a K-turn, when it’s t-t-time to teach driving 101.
in my house there is that someone. and curiously, uncannily, she is the same someone who plied these tricks on me, when i was the one with diaper rash, or wouldn’t eat my peas. or crashed the old ford wagon into a bush.
i broke her in, i’m sure she’d tell you. and so did my four brothers.
we must have exercised her like a race horse. thrown every trick in the book in her direction. turned her, unwittingly, into the super-est nanny money could not buy.
she is my lifeboat, my salvation, and my answer-gram, to boot.
yup, she’s my mama. and she’s grammy to my boys.
of late, though, she’s upped her standing here in ways i’d never ever imagined, or dreamed. nor wished for.
you see, i’ve been expunged from my house, more or less. hauled back to the mothership of my old newspaper. told to sit and type where all the other grownups type.
and so, for the first time since birthing children, i am now the absent mother.
i’m not there two days a week when my boys bound in the door (the other workdays i race home in time to beat the schoolbus).
i’m not there when the dishwasher goes kerpluey and makes like a raging waterfall.
and, nope, i’m not there when the one in high school–the one who plays a double bass so big it won’t fit in one of our old cars, not unless you remove the lid (of the car, i mean, not the double bass)–i’m not there when he calls and coyly mentions that he needs a ride home from school at the precise hour that his little brother is being visited by a teacher who has him plucking up and down the ivories.
and this poor supernanny–who is getting darn near 80, for crying out loud–smoothly takes it all in stride. tells the big one to wait. mops up the flood. and when the little one gets to middle C, points him toward the bass-retrieving-mobile.
(she does though ring me on the workphone, drop her voice to a whisper and ask, furtively: “where’s the scotch?”
hmm. note to self: remember to pick up a fifth of scotch for the sitter.)
it’s not merely that she covers the basics. oh, no. we seem to have selected nanny-plus, the premium model.
in just the last few weeks, a stint in which she signed up without a whimper for two not one dinners-per-week, including grocery shopping, she has miraculously nudged our resident picky eater to down these heretofore-untouched morsels: lamb patties, hamburgers, why even mashed potatoes, a form of spud that had never crossed his little lips.
and, by jove, he likes ‘em all.
this nanny should be cloned.
she has melted my heart a time or two when she reported in that she’d picked up child A from point A to deliver to point B, and thought to pack, why, cookies and ice-cold water, so the little dear could sup in leisure and not be forced to gulp and swipe—or go without, had it been not-so-strategic mommy in the driver’s seat.
but that’s not all: this nanny package we seem to have won in the state lottery, why she’s been spotted in recent months teaching grown boys how to iron clothes. imagine that. i walked out the door to work, and came home to a child now fully equipped to zap my wrinkles–or at least the ones on my pants. whether she can prod him to keep up such skills remains, of course, to be seen.
if anyone can whip this house in shape, it seems to be the one who’s stepped in in my stead.
heck, i’ve come home to find my garden rearranged; the lovely big-leafed hosta that suffered regular beatings from wild basketballs–the hosta i’ve been intending to move for, oh, the last five years–she up and popped it from the earth, plopped it down in just the right shady spot.
she even sorts the mail. empties the recycling.
there is nowhere on the planet the brand of love she pours: all-encompassing, all the time. she is clearly heaven sent, and heaven-bound, i guarantee.
she told me once, in a whisper, that when my papa died she’d turned her life to God. her every breath, then on, would be in the service of others. we seem to be among the winners.
there are, in so many houses around the world, souls who keep the walls from falling down. who keep the kiddies scrub-faced, and the mommies from exploding.
at my house, it’s my mama. and with all my heart and soul, and all my achy bones, and my head that pounds some days, i thank her. upside down and sideways. through and through. and then some more. times two, doubled. to the nth power.
my only question now: can she fit us in on the days when i am home? i do need help. clearly.
i’m not the only one i know who has someone to thank for getting me across the finish line each day. or at least on the days when we’re at wit’s very end. i am blessed that i’ve my mama to be the one who’s here for me and my boys.
feel free to write along, and tell the tales of those you love and couldn’t live without. especially when it comes to those who live inside your home. or maybe in your heart…
I am the lucky one, I get so much love.
bless your heart, xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo it’s bigger than all the continents pushed together…..
Yep, you’re blessed alright. Apples don’t fall far …… you’re pretty great yourself, missy!The Wise One is an amazng woman. On a trip to our fair state she climbed a mountain, so I’m told. She’s a wonder and if cloning her is possible, send some of that greatness my way!
a memory from years ago, as a teenager with a job that had me missing dinner times. i can’t remember the details of the job but to be certain everynight when i would get home there was a dinner held warm in the oven, the plate prepared with protein, vegetables, and a starch, wrapped tightly with foil. i cannot remember the job i held but i can readily remember the feeling being home again where a place was set – fork on the left, knife and spoon on the right – and a meal ready in the oven. as she always said, “i only want ot be a mother hen.”i am so glad that the grandsons, my nephews, get this, and that in return she can say – in her inimitable brevity: “I am the lucky one, I get so much love.”
dear #4, i love you so much. (well isn’t this turnin into a little love fest?!?!?!? and what better use, i ask, of any ol’ blog?????? nearly as good as a cabin at a lake for a rootin’tootin family re-UNION). i love that tale…it so captures the essence of mom/grammy/the wiser one/cardinal mom…here’s to foil-wrapped plates and the seeds it planted in all our hearts….xoxoxoxxoxoxoxoxo
Indeed we are all blessed! I know how lucky you and your boys are ’cause I know how lucky I am to have been raised by the same wise one. Bravo, bravo!!
’tis true…’tis wonderfully true. I first remember hearing the ‘mother hen’ phrase when I was in college….and dad would comment that mom wanted us all back for the holidays…she was a mother hen, and a fine one at that!! The best!! Like DPM mentions….when you/we were late getting home from work or whatever….dinner…a plate…was waiting for you…covered…or it was on the stove…warm….whatever the meal it was good…worth the wait…nourishing…mouthwatering….um um good! to borrow the line from Campbells soup. I appreciate it more now that I am older…funny how that works. like B says, this little LOVE fest on the blog IS indeed wonderful…a little electronic reunion. I like that! from the west coast, oxoxoxox jsm
Oh my oh my….what a mom! I have picking up bits and pieces about the Bam Fam network through a year or more at the table and you sound like such a nurturing clan. I agree with pjv , but with a different slant, “you all just didn’t lick it off the grass!” Happy electronic reunion with your wonderful mom.
lamcal … you’re just too funny …..
FABULOUS Grandma Essay–and FABULOUS Grandma too! Esp for those of us who wish we had mothers still alive and nearby==and those who had practical, magical grandmothers to swoop in to help.
dear dear carol, and every other one of us without a grammy on the scene. with every word i typed i was so conscious of the blessing, of having this mama who is here to be such a part of these boys’ lives. there are grandmas who adore their babies but aren’t close enough geographically, there are mamas who ACHE for their own mamas, in ways similar–but not the sam–as i ache for my papa. while my mama and i each have our own ways of doing things, i know what a blessing it is to be able to call her, first thing, when someone’s really hurt and i’m afraid, or i am worried to death about someone and need her wisdom, or simply want to ask if she thinks chicken left in the car on a winter night might kill us all if we try to cook it…….i think we all carry our mothers in us in ways we never know, until suddenly we hear their voice coming from our very own throats……or insisting on tucking mint into the watermelon basket, because, well, that’s just the way it’s done…my heart goes, of course to all of you who read this and ached for your own mamas….or grammas….xoxoxo
Love the piece, love you Mom, all the above comments, and Barbie the special people promoter, and what can I possibly add? Tons. Mom, you’ve always been there for me through the twists in the big roads and dirt roads and off roads I’ve traveled. Always strong, always there for me. Amazingly available, and resourceful… You’ve said many things that will echo down the long corridors of my heart forever. Like the Raywood Ash tree you gave me in ’89, we dug the hole together and you said, “This tree will ‘hold’ the hill” — and twenty years later it not only ‘holds the hill’ but reaches its limbs out and embraces and graces the brand new redwood pergola, just like my Mom has always done for me. Embraces and graces: her gifts. It’s true, and beautiful. My Mom has gone the distance with me, and continues doing so.Thanks for BEING THERE. xoxoxox
What a touching tribute to your mother, from all of you. She is a lucky woman, but it is so much more than luck, it is because of who she is. I know you all know how lucky you are, this from someone whose own mother lives too far…I pray that I can be the mom that stays so close to her children as you have done…isn’t that what it is all about?
How blessed you are to have your mom’s help. And, what a role model your mom is. I pray that when I get to be a grandma, when I am her age, that I can do exactly what she does. This is a terrific tribute to family love.
Wonderfully embarrassing.Thank you.
And she is even “on-line”, too! =)
The “wise one” is a true role model for those boys – showing them how one finds purpose and meaning in life through serving and helping others. You are all blessed through her presence in your life.
I love the ironing photo. My mother taught my sister and I to iron. Thereafter we had a basket or two to do a month. To this day when I am ironing and the steam rises, the fabric conforms, the wrinkles disapear, the smell of the iron on the clothes….I think back to my mother, the love, the respect I had for her teaching me this bit of “women’s work”..it made me feel important. I still love to iron..it is so theraputic…It helps my brain iron out all it’s wrinkles…your mum…what a cuite pie…with the side view of your son watching…tis a painting!Annie
At an all time low in my life, in 1991, my Mom visited to help me out. I was upstairs staring out the window. I heard a noise downstairs…Mom was painting the bare concrete floors! Mom. That still speaks volumes today. You were taking action to improve my lot. I will never forget that and I emulate that whenever I can. Nike got their slogan from spying my Mom! There’s no time for theorizing, boys, let’s GO.
Ever since I remember, that’s what she always called me…which was funny when the high school football teammates came over and Mom would call me “Mickey Mouse” as always, and I wouldn’t blink, as my buddies would all chuckle…That’s what my Mom called me and I thought it was cool.
dear mickey, you make me cry. you play symphonies with words and story, my piano loving bro. i know the music behind the notes and thus the tears pour. you’ve never held back when it came to pouring out your heart, which perhaps is why we are heartmates……i love the collected stories we put down here sometimes. i don’t know the painting the floor story, but now i do…..my story is the one of pulling up to the cemetery, and there she was, in the rain, with her foot to the shovel, getting ready to dig a tiny grave…..that’s the story that was the everything for me…..in the depth of darkness, she did what needed to be done. and came equipped with bulbs to plant besides, and took care of little will (the one above learning how to iron) so that he wouldn’t watch his mama and papa do what they needed to do……lay to rest that precious stillborn tiny baby sister….atop her grandpa’s heart and chest…..where both would be safer, ever after……..and dear annie, i love your meditation there on ironing….i wrote a meander a couple years ago, it’s back in the archives, “the zen of smoothing out wrinkles,” 02.28.07….yes, yes, you say it so poetically….there are lessons learned that forever hark us back to the teacher. same thing happens to me–on the rare occasion when i plug in the iron. must run. one last final exam for the ironing child, and another day of school for the little one……lovely stopping here mid-week. see you friday. xoxo b
“In the depth of darkness, she did what needed to be done…” Amen, sister, and your story, cut from the same silk, MOVES me. What a truly great legacy Mom will leave with her kids. She did what needed to be done. In my case, it was sometimes just plain kick my ass. 🙂
hulllloooo, anybody here? well, it’s me calling out from what feels like the darkness. i’ve been disconnected. eek. since i was told to shut down the home office, i was switching my internet connection to the ol’ home line, and well, despite the PROMISE that it wouldn’t possibly take more than two hours, max, that seems to have passed us by, oh, about 12 hours ago….so here i am. down at my downtown office, typing to tell you i might be thwarted in my efforts to meander tomorrow. egad. it’s all crashing in on me, this move to where the big people type. all i want is to sit in the quiet of my little house and meander. and alas, i might be postponed. maybe i’ll get lucky, but somehow i doubt it. i feel i could be in the dark till sometime next week. a forced unplugging. maybe that’s not such a bad thing. but i’m missing our connection already. i’ll be here with something new just as soon as the big bad wolves at internetland let me back on the playground. ciao till then…..