Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day Morning

I've been getting up early again, trying to avoid the creaky places in the stairs and sneak down to the kitchen without waking anyone else. The days are so lovely now, sunny and warm, and I hate to miss a minute of this gorgeous weather. With a cup of tea in hand, I wander around our tiny back garden to examine yesterday's growth, admire emerging life and soak in the serenity of birdsong floating above the sea of brick houses that is our neighborhood. I really thrive on having a bit of quiet -- time and space all to myself -- in the mornings. The rest of my day goes immensely better when it starts off with early solitude.

Jack got a watch for his birthday. He knows what 6:30 looks like, and he knows to stay in his room until that time, when Thomas the Tank Engine comes on Nick Jr. This morning he was downstairs by 6:10.

"Can I snuggle with you, Mommy?"

I said I would snuggle with him at 6:30 and sent him back to his room. After touring the garden, just as I was going to make another cup of tea and sit down at the patio table with The Daily Light, Jack came back down. I really thought he would follow his usual morning routine of heading to the couch, turning on the tv and calling for a cup of milk, but he came right outside and climbed into my lap. In addition to being funny, smart and extremely headstrong, Jack is truly the sweetest, lovingest boy. We snuggled together for a few minutes, talking about how big he is now (five!) and how much the garden is growing. I said I was going inside to make a cup of tea.

"Bring a cup of tea for me, too, Mommy..." I heard him say as I walked inside.

And then, just as I said okay, he added, "...please."

A mixture of pride and relief flooded me in that moment. Maybe all my repetitive prompting is actually taking effect? In recent American Express ads, Tina Fey says her proudest accomplishment is that her daughter says "please" and "thank you". I can totally relate.

* * * * * * *
Yesterday afternoon Matt and Jack went to Sainsbury's while I was getting supper ready. I heard the car pull into the driveway, and then the doorbell rang. When I opened the door, Jack held out an armful of gorgeous yellow roses.

"Happy Valentine's Day, Mommy," he said. "These flowers are from Kenya."

Matt said Jack picked them out all by himself. He looked and looked at everything on display before settling on these. Then Matt saw the label on the plastic sleeve: Fairtrade. Grown in Kenya.

My heart melted, and tears leaked out of my eyes. Nevermind about the confusion in holidays. Lots of love, expressed in cards and flowers -- I'll take it by any name.

The Brits celebrate Mother's Day in March. I think the timing is on purpose, to give women a much-needed emotional boost before spring has fully sprung, but it means Mother's Day cards aren't available here in May. That's okay, too, actually, because then I get original, handwritten messages. Matt coached Jack to correctly spell the words in his cute-on-the-outside, blank-inside-for-your-own-message card, but this morning Jack wrote another, spontaneous version on a card he made himself: I lve yoo ssssssssssssssss much love Jack to mom

I used to stay up late grading essays, circling in red my students' mistakes in spelling and punctuation, pointing out errors in their literary analysis. But my perspective and priorities have changed in this season of life. This boy, this amazing and marvelous creature who initiated me into motherhood, gets an A+ from me.

* * * * *
Sophie gave me a gift this morning, too. Well, two actually. First of all, she slept until 8:00! After an hour on my own and 90 glorious minutes with just Jack, I was beginning to wonder where she was when I turned to see her little tousled self peeking at me out the patio door. (I may need to get up early to start my day off right, but Sophie is sweeter after an extra bit of morning sleep.)

Her second gift to me was that I got to sit in church for the morning's sermon. Finally! After four months of panic-stricken clinginess as soon as we'd walk through the door of the Tweenies Sunday School classroom, last week she suddenly stopped crying and sat down in her chair for songs and a story, nice as you please. Another little girl was crying that morning, and maybe Sophie decided she didn't have to play that role anymore? I don't know. Anyway, this morning she was good as gold. I think we've turned a corner, Oh Happy Day!

* * * * * * *
Among Matt's contributions to Mother's Day this year, in addition to orchestrating the giving of flowers and cards, was tidying up the house while I was at the gym yesterday afternoon and washing the dishes after supper last night. And not saying anything this morning after waiting 15 minutes for me to get into the car for church.

At one point before breakfast, Jack came into the kitchen waving a sheet of stickers. "Which one of these sea creatures would you like, Mommy, for taking such good care of me and Sophie?" he asked.

My immediate reply: The octopus, because I could do with six more arms.

Actually, though, I can't complain. I've got it pretty easy. I'm blessed to have a husband who is actively involved in our family, who has great insight into how to motivate Jack when he's going through a particularly stubborn streak, who is tender and attentive with Sophie, who keeps us all laughing and who often helps me with the more mundane tasks of housekeeping. The list is long, but I'll stop there. Let's just say that, in so many ways, it's Matt who helps me keep my focus in this journey of motherhood.

He's also been encouraging Jack to pray at mealtimes. The four of us hold hands and bow our heads to give thanks, and many times Matt has asked Jack if he would like to do the praying. For months now, Jack has declined. Until this morning at breakfast.

Matt: Jack, would you like to pray and thank God for Mommy?

Jack: Yes... (then, leaning over and whispering to Matt) But I don't know what to say.

So Matt whispered to him and Jack repeated his words with clarity and confidence, and there I was in tears again, caught up in the beauty of listening to Jack's first public prayer, in the wonder of being the mother in this little family, in the joyful capsule of this morning. To everyone else in the UK, it's just another Sunday, but I'm surrounded by a wealth of reasons to celebrate. I want to remember this morning forever.


Anonymous said...

Hi Laura! it was fun reading your blog tonight...kiss Jack and Sophie for all of us! I spent my mother's day watching Kati and Zach play basketball! it was much fun and bittersweet as it was kati's last...graduating June 20! leaving June 21 for Texas Tech's new student about tear in your eye! love to you all. xxoo D'Ann Porter

Karen Edmisten said...

So very sweet and touching.

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