Thirty-two years ago today, when I became a mother at 7:32 PM, on Wednesday, August 13, 1986, I had no idea of the difficult road ahead. No parent-to-be knows for sure what to expect in their new role, of course, but there’s a continuum of “typical” and there’s off-the-child-development-charts “unpredictable.”
If you’ve followed my story, you know where my motherhood experience fell.
I thought I was ready to be a mom. I had loving role models in my parents, I was an attentive big sister, and I babysat as a teen. I had a supportive husband, a fulfilling career, a cozy house with a crib, and a changing table stocked with onesies, cloth diapers, and blankies. I took my prenatal vitamins and shunned alcohol and attended LaMaze and breastfeeding classes, and read every page of What to Expect When You’re Expecting.
I was prepared for a typical child. And I expected to be a perfect mom. Matthew and I were neither.
But we’re resilient. Matthew’s recovery from his brain tumor, diagnosed when he was 11, is profound–unpredictable in a good way. Every time I see him, I think he’s smarter than the last time, and the last time, he was reading The Communist Manifesto.
He’s one remarkable human being. I am so blessed that he is here today so I can wish him:
This year, for better or for worse, social media, the airwaves, and maybe even the pulpit will be full of everyone’s take on the fact that Easter falls on April Fool’s Day. I have nothing unique or clever to add, so I’ll keep this post simple.
Last year, I was feeling blue about Easter; you can see what I wrote below. This year, I’m not blue, so I guess I’ve adapted to our new traditions. As long as the tradition includes my three favorite guys–hubby Michael and sons Matt and Steve–I’ll feel blessed. There will be no lamb cake again this year, but I had to share the picture because it still gives me a smile. Needless to say, don’t look for me on The Great American Baking Show.
If you’re a master lamb cake baker/decorator, please share your photo or your story and maybe I’ll be inspired for next year.
I wish you a day blessed with smiles, comforting traditions, and the presence or happy memories of loved ones. A little sunshine would be nice, too, for those of us with snow still hanging around.
I’m feeling a little melancholy about Easter, so please indulge me as I tell you about this photo. It makes me smile.
It’s a lamb cake, in case you couldn’t tell. If you think that’s silly, I’d like to hear your explanation about the bunny who lays chocolate eggs.
When my five siblings and I were little, our mom made a lamb cake every Easter. We were Catholic, and the symbolism in this tradition is the reference to Jesus as the Lamb of God and the Good Shepherd.
When my parents downsized some years ago, I inherited the lamb cake mold, and used it a few times in subsequent years. My 20-something sons liked it, but I wouldn’t say it was a “hit.” A jelly bean-eyed, coconut-furred farm animal nestled in a bed of green coconut “grass” just doesn’t rank with, say, mountain zip-lining. (I’ll save that adventure for another blog). But my sons declared it “good” and my heart was full like a solid chocolate bunny.
Since my last lamb cake, most of the four of us–my husband and I and our two sons–are now avoiding sugar, calories, gluten, grains, dairy, and/or meat, depending on the individual. So I’m scratching the whole lamb production this year.
And I won’t waste my money on chocolate bunnies, Cadbury eggs, or jelly beans, either, since they’ll sit untouched until candy corn season. I wouldn’t hear a peep over a plastic-grass filled Easter basket, so why bother? And the interest at my house in dyed eggs has died.
I have to face that our traditions are broken and I don’t know how to revive them. Actually, to be honest, as much as I’m nostalgic for those Kodak moments, I’m not interested in resurrecting anything without some waving of palms or cheering of crowds alongside me. Someday my sons may be ready to carry that cross, but they’re not there yet.
So I’m going to redefine how I want to celebrate Easter. Lambs and cakes and bunnies and painted eggs are all fluff, anyway, just like pink and purple peeps. Spending the day with loved ones, an Easter lily on my dining room table, and a glass of wine on my front porch is all I really need. And spring’s rebirth is a tradition that happens with or without fanfare. I’ll be there to witness it.
The lamb cake mold will stay entombed under the dining room window-seat until there’s reason for it to be born again. The wait will be longer than three days, but good things happen when you believe in miracles–whether it’s a risen Savior, a bunny that lays chocolate eggs, or a son who one day asks to borrow a mold to resurrect a long lost tradition.
I don’t even know where to start when I’ve not written in so long.
My husband Michael and I were in California visiting my parents. While we were there, I coordinated an 85th birthday celebration for my mom. It was a production—a live digital video virtual party (is that even the right way to say it?)—so my five siblings from all over the US could participate. This is not my forte, in case you don’t know—neither the organizing nor the “digital-izing.”
A few times, when I woke up at the crack of dawn, as I tend to do, I worked on an essay about D-day—the day my son Matthew was diagnosed with a brain tumor. I plan to submit the piece to a literary magazine, but every time I looked at it, it seemed more and more flawed and I was close to trashing it.
Writing-wise, the week was a bust.
Except that I asked my parents to read part of my memoir manuscript–the story about how ill-prepared I was as a person and a mom for a rumble with a brain tumor.
I asked them for two reasons. First, I want them to know the full story—the parts that they could not have known being 500 miles away at the time; the parts of my pain that I never shared. My own husband, who lived our drama with me, didn’t know about some of that pain until I asked him to read it last fall.
The other reason I asked my parents to read my manuscript is that I want their blessing on it. Not on my story, but on their story within it—who they are and how they raised me, which made me the parent I was and the person I am.
There’s nothing really unflattering about them in it; my Mom and Dad are the nicest people you ever could meet, and I was raised to be nice. But when you’re faced with a serious life challenge, “nice” doesn’t cut it. And I didn’t know how not to be nice because I had no role models for it. It was on-the-job-training for me.
It’s very possible the book will be published after my parents have died, which is why I asked for their blessing on it now. And I got it. Thank you, Mom and Dad.
So I haven’t done much new writing. I didn’t finish that essay. I didn’t submit to any magazines.
But I crossed a threshold and I’m energized to get back on track. I have a memoir to finish.