Mother’s Day Memory Lane
I wrote this last night but conked out before sending it. I had half thought to go through old emails and photos to see if I could fill in some of the fuzzy spaces, but here it is the day after Mother’s Day and I’m approaching conk city again. Busy busy days around here. I’ll just post this as is, rather than let it languish with the other (eep) 185 posts WordPress tells me I have sitting in drafts.
Mother’s Day 1995: May 14th. Our first wedding anniversary. Our first baby was due on May 24th. I had quit my job as an assistant editor at HarperCollins Children’s books at the end of April and was plugging away at a freelance project I wanted to finish before the baby came. I was sure the baby was going to come early, sure of it. She was instead a full two weeks late, born June 7th. But on May 14th, my first Mother’s Day, the end of my first year as Scott’s wife, I was thinking today could be the day. I was ready. Where the Wild Things Are prints ornamented the walls of the baby’s room; soft teal and purple bedding was ready in the crib. That would be the crib in which that baby never wound up sleeping—she was in bed with us almost from the first, and the crib was where we stored the clean laundry. When she was three months old, I read The Continuum Concept, and that was the end of cribs for us forever.
Mother’s Day 1996: May 12th. Jane was 11 months old, and she was our everything. Had we converted her bedroom into an office by that point? I was writing the Carmen Sandiego books during her naps, and I remember that I had a deadline that week. Scott and our good friend Keri (the world traveler I’ve written about) took the baby for a long walk so I could crank away at the manuscript. It was a strange way to spend Mother’s Day, I recall. But I finished the book, and then I think we celebrated with Thai food. Either that or the best pizza in the world, from Gino’s down the street.
Mother’s Day 1997: May 11th. Celebrated in the hospital, and I think my best present was getting to go to the Ronald McDonald House for a shower. Jane was about six weeks into chemo by then, having been diagnosed with leukemia on March 22nd. She was past the brutal four-week induction phase and just getting going on the six-month (in theory; it lasted nine) middle phase of treatment, which involved lengthy hospital stays. All the nurses wished me a Happy Mother’s Day. Jane made a picture in the playroom with noodles and glue.
Mother’s Day 1998: May 10th. Jane was about to turn three, and I was expecting Rose in August. We didn’t know whether she’d be a Rose or a little Pete, but Jane insisted she was having a sister. That May things were just beginning to get good again after a long hard slog through hospital months. The early spring had been awful: a bad drug reaction left Jane weak, lethargic, battling the worst nausea of her time in chemo. For a time she had stopped eating, talking, walking. Those were the darkest days when it seemed like our sunny little girl might really slip away from us. But I’d figured out—and on Mother’s Day, I’ll not shirk from taking the credit for this, since I had to fight hard to convince the doctors I was right—that her rapid decline coincided with the switch from one antibiotic to another. The G/I docs thought that was nonsense; they thought her refusal to eat was behavorial, an acting-out of her resentment of her unborn sibling. I knew that was nonsense. Just about the only thing that brought the old spark into Jane’s eye was the mention of the baby in mommy’s tummy. She would kiss my belly and talk about her “sister.” G/I wanted to put in a feeding tube, but I insisted that we try going off the antibiotic first. Three days later, the child was eating and chattering and literally twirling on my bed. Hurrah for maternal instinct!
Mother’s Day 1999: May 9th. Rose would have been about nine months, and Jane was almost four? We were back in the world by then, making frequent trips out to Alice’s house on Long Island, bursting at the seams in our little Queens apartment. And joy of joys, Scott was home full time. He had quit his job as a comic-book editor the day Rose was born, wanting to write freelance and spend as much time as possible with his little girls. I would have been finishing up the second Martha book that spring, I think. I know I’d finished the first Charlotte book the November before. Oh! I remember—that was the spring HarperCollins sent me to Boston for a big hoopla Little House event along with the illustrators of my two series, and Laura’s biographer, William Anderson, and Roger MacBride’s daughter, Abby. There were lots of booksignings and interviews. I don’t remember exactly when it was. But I’m thinking that Mother’s Day that year was dominated by all that fuss.
Mother’s Day 2000: May 14th. It had come around to our wedding anniversary again, our sixth. We had left Queens the previous October, trading our two-bedroom apartment for a three-bedroom apartment on Long Island with a basement and a backyard. And our first washer and dryer, oh the bliss! Jane was about to turn five; Rose was not yet two. I ought to be able to remember this day better. I’m sure there was breakfast in bed (bagels most likely), and Mass at the little white church down the hill, Our Lady of Fatima. A family drive? A trip to the beach at Sands Point? I don’t remember. Chocolate, without doubt. Pizza, probably. That’s how we roll.
Mother’s Day 2001: May 13th. The day before our 7th anniversary. Beanie was 3 1/2 months old. Three little girls. I remember that spring very clearly: that was the year we were on a Beatrix Potter/Secret Garden kick, and we followed the dearest of rabbit trails. One of our funniest and most treasured family stories comes from that time.
Mother’s Day 2002: May 12th. And now we’re no longer in New York. We had moved to Virginia on New Year’s Day that year, into our very first house. Jane was seven, and I remember that Mother’s Day: it was the day after her First Communion. Scott’s parents were visiting, and I made a pork roast for dinner. Our azaleas were in magnificent bloom, and the perennial border I’d planted in April was beginning to look lively. Columbines, pink sea thrift, a few tulips, anemones, a froth of silver-green where the yarrow would be, and all sorts of baby plants not yet come into their own. I’d had to wrestle out enormous clumps of weeds, bush-sized weeds, in order to plant that bed. We had a pair of bluebirds nesting under our deck. Beanie’s curls were beginning to assert themselves.
Mother’s Day 2003: May 11th. Let me think. Jane was almost 8, Rose was going on 5, Beanie had turned 2 in January. Wonderboy was born in December of that year so I must have been pregnant by Mother’s Day, but I don’t remember whether I was sick yet.
Mother’s Day 2004: May 9th. This one should be easy. Wonderboy was exactly 5 months old. He’d had surgery at 3 months, and in mid-April he was evaluated by Early Intervention and determined to qualify for services. He couldn’t lift up his head when lying on his stomach. He would already have started physical therapy by May 9th. We didn’t know yet that he was hard of hearing. Hmm, so I can remember the time frame but not the day. How quickly it all begins to blur!
Mother’s Day 2005: May 8th, and suddenly strolling memory lane becomes so easy: there is a blog. There’s no entry between May 4th (when I wrote about my personal salad bar) and May 17th, which is an entry called “Hands in the Air,” about the roller-coaster ride we’d been on during the past two weeks. Funny, though, the misadventures described in that post seem quite benign compared to the usual run of things around here. I can’t remember Mother’s day at all, but I bet I got beautiful cards from three little girls that year.
Mother’s Day 2006: May 14th, our 12th wedding anniversary. Oh my gosh, I’m in shock. I went to the archives to see what was happening that day and there was baby Rilla. We’re that far along already? Really? Yes, this was just two years ago. Rilla was exactly one month old. I was about to start blogging at Lilting House. The next month, Scott would be offered a job in San Diego, and accept, but we had no notion of that then. I wrote this post. He still gives excellent footrubs.
Mother’s Day 2007: May 13th. One year ago, more or less. I was about to write this. Scott gave me a lime tree, which is now producing excellent, um, lemons. Scott and the girls made me monkey bread and served them on paper plates decorated with love notes. So sweet. I think we went for a drive that day, but I don’t seem to have pictures of it.
And here we are in 2008. Blink. It was such a great day. Mellow, but we did a lot. Around the house, I mean. Getting little house jobs done was part of my present. And there were donuts for breakfast, and Wonderboy made it all the way through Mass without needing to be taken out, and roses, gorgeous roses, and in the afternoon everyone piled in the minivan for a Target run—the nursery, I mean. The parking lot was a nightmare and Scott let me just run in and grab what I wanted (some bedding-out flowers) while he circled instead of parking. Worked out perfectly. Rose helped me plant the flowers (mainly she kept Rilla from unplanting them while I dug the next hole) and after a while all the kids were playing dodge ball with Scott while I puttered around the yard, admiring my new posies. But I think my favorite moment of the day was peeking through the bedroom door in the afternoon and seeing Scott and Rilla curled up together. She’d been down for a long nap, and he went in to wake her up, and got lured to the snuggle. So sweet. Later, we watched Office reruns on TV and he laughed because I smile so big when Jim and Pam are together. I’m a sap. I like romance. I am fond of love.
Diane Smith says:
Thanks for sharing. WOW! It’s amazing how much “life” can be crammed into what seems like a few years. How you even find time to write is amazing. It’s all I can do to sneak away with my sketchbook!
On May 12, 2008 at 11:35 pm
Thank you for this, Lissa — it brought me down my own Mother’s Day memory lane, anniversaries and all. 🙂 I hope you and Scott have a wonderful anniversary tomorrow. Fourteen years on the 14th! Too cool. 😉
On May 13, 2008 at 4:29 am
This was incredibly moving and made me think of all nine of my mother’s days, too. Lovely.
On May 13, 2008 at 2:43 pm
Karen Edmisten says:
So nice to stroll through these years with you. Lovely post!
On May 14, 2008 at 4:43 am
I really enjoyed the post. Mothers Day is a different day in the UK, but I enjoyed reminiscing about mine along with you!
Many thanks. Julie.
On May 14, 2008 at 11:52 am