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Susan Ito trying to do it all: reading writing mothering spousing daughtering working living

Monday, May 15, 2006

Mother's Day: Not a Simple Holiday

I can't think of any holiday that is more fraught than Mother's Day, from the perspective of being both a mother and a daughter. This was one of those high-octane weekends, when I felt like I was bursting at the seams as a mom. Tearing my hair out with frustration one moment, and melting with tenderness the next. And back and forth, again and again. Friday night was a sleepover that began with "Can A. spend the night?" and morphed quickly into five teenaged crew-team members giggling and shrieking, pizza and movies until 2am, when they all had to get up at 5:00 for their 6am Saturday practice.

Saturday was a bit surreal, and very sweet. A few weeks ago I blogged about my baby-longing, and the foster mom who had come to my house toting the Very Adorable Baby. Well, she just happened to read my blog, and emailed me asking if I wanted to fulfill some of that longing by spending some time with that VAB. Wow. (I think this may also have something to do with my iPod fortune telling, when I asked my iPod if I would have more children, and it responded with Ferron's song, "O Baby.")

So on Saturday morning I went to her house to gather up the 9-month old bundle of total cuteness, plus his diaper bag, bottle, carseat (identical to the ones my girls used, 10+ years ago) and stroller. All the gear! I had sort of forgotten. First we trundled off to Whole Foods to get snack for my younger daughter's soccer game. Unbelievable, the amount of attention that he/we received. I had forgotten about that too. It doesn't hurt that he is too cute and sweet for words, with eyelashes about half a mile long, and offering a smile to anyone in a 20-foot radius. Then we went to the soccer game, where he crawled around on the grass and a small team of girls and I valiantly prevented him from ingesting goose poop. More adoring attention, but it was also becoming clear how unflaggingly vigilant one must be. Like, I knew that very well a decade ago, but it had faded from my reality.

We came home. He had fallen asleep in the car, and thus the question: to move him, and risk waking him up? Would I sit in the car all afternoon? I finally decided to gingerly detach the carseat from the car, and bring sleeping-child-in-carseat into the house. It worked. I realized I was exhausted. We both slept in the guest room, me with one fishy eye half open.

When he woke up an hour later, the fun began. Lunch! Playtime! Diapers! It was a nonstop babyfest, with little Mister Adorable surrounded by an adoring team of four. My husband found him irresistable. My mother was intrigued. The dogs were totally beside themselves. And the girls were in love. We spent the afternoon offering him toys, airplane rides (you know,the "flying baby" maneuver, which is excellent for the triceps), funny faces, farty sounds and anything else his little heart desired. When his mom came to pick him up in the late afternoon, we were sad. But suddenly realized that now we were free to go to the bathroom.

That's the thing about babies. They are cuter than cute. This is to distract you from the fact that you cannot peel your eyes away from them for more than three seconds. It's for good reason. His foster mom told me that he might actually be adoptable (I had been hoping this would not be the case, to save me from temptation) and I have been mulling this fact ever since. If we had this baby all the time, our lives would be completely turned upside down. How could I work at my job? How could I write?

So for now, I think the best thing for us is these weekend gigs. When we can help give his mom some rest, and we can play family-of-a-baby for a few hours or days. I don't think it's in the cards to start all over with a baby. But you never know. I haven't given up on the foster-adopting of older kids, yet, though. Some day.

So, Mother's Day. Yeah, it's fraught. Yesterday was a rollercoaster of emotion, with one girl alternating between screaming at the top of her lungs, and sobbing, "I'm sorry I'm ruining your Mother's Day!" and feeling like I was going to have to bad-cop the other one, and walking around with a sick sense of dread in my stomach. I emailed an electronic bunch of tulips to my birthmother, feeling as conflicted and ambivalent as I ever have. But I had a nap (best Mother's Day present I can think of) and we all ended up going out for a fancy dinner, where we laughed our heads off, ate some great food, and bathed in overall feelings of love and good will. It felt hard-earned but more than worth it.


Anonymous Wendy said...

Susan, what a fabolous post, I mean so much happening and the temp new little baby, your descriptions threw me right back to the adorable and loving and cutest of cuteness but mainly, a word I told my own kiddo yesterday, the VIGILANCE. That is the only reason, or one of the main reasons, I would not adopt a baby again. As I told my daughter, 20, yesterday, her dad sat on her head the night she was born, and his feet seemed too large. Moreover when she was two, we were visiting Manhattan.

A friend name Ellen was with me as we went up the my Nana's small apartment. The dad was looking for a parking space when Ellen, who knew him forever, said, "What if is forgets the baby," who was in her baby seat in the back...

Sure enough, he dashed in all smiles about his PARKING space. "WHERE is the BABY?" we said, alarmed. "O my God," he said, as we raced out and grabbed her, before anything untoward could happen. This is how, eventually I became a single mom. If you have a flaky dad, you take over, due to vigilance. I've done a ton of things wrong, with my kid and the many others I've taken in or taken care of, but one thing that made it harder was pure unceasing vigilance. No one of any age was hurt in any way in my presence. But on my kid's trips to visit her dad, she has fallen off roofs and etc. So I know of what you speak so well.

Happy Beautiful Mother's day to you.

Monday, May 15, 2006 10:10:00 AM

Blogger melanie said...

Happy belated Mother's day! You deserve naps, tulips, and fancy dinners every day of the year.

Monday, May 15, 2006 9:20:00 PM

Anonymous Rachel said...

Oh boy, did I relate to your feelings on Mother's Day!
And I had the chance to take care of the same Very Adorable Baby a couple of weeks earlier! You put it so well.
Rachel Sarah

Tuesday, May 16, 2006 12:20:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was little I decided Mother's Day had been invented by the Hallmark Card people. I saw only the incongruities, and not the cuteness.

Though I have no husband or children, I celebrated Mom's day this year with my new rescue dog, an eight-year-old shih tzu.

Recently I had a chance to hold that same Very Adorable Baby you cared for. He's about the same size as my dog and even cuter. He was practicing for his opera career when I held him.

On Mother's Days I think a lot about adoptive mothers, birth mothers, and mothers who terminated pregnancies. There is so much more to this day than the Hallmark cards cover.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Susan.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006 10:03:00 AM

Blogger Susan said...

Boy, that Very Adorable Baby really gets around!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006 10:29:00 AM


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