Chocolate Morning

If looks could kill, you think I just destroyed my netbook (my freelance Work-At-Home Mom lifeline.)I bury my head into my hands, elbows planted on the kitchen table in front of my dead, pink netbook.

At the opposite end of the table is my one-year-old finishing her toast. Her older sister, by two years, is playing a few feet away in her pajamas. This is normally my golden half – hour to work and to send off my writings to my clients back east.

My anxiety is roasting to maximum when I get off the phone with the big box retailer from where I purchased the unit. I have to bring it in. They were not able to help me over the phone. A glance at the clock over the table I realize I will need to rush my youngsters through the morning rituals to get out of the house.

It is poetic irony that there are dark clouds overhead and I have no car. Due to an accident weeks ago I am without wheels. So I will have to pack up the double stroller, and head up the road to walk the distance to get my computer fixed if I have any hope to finish my work.

We make it to the store dry. After a few tense moments with the technicians they tell me I need to bring in the router. It is nestled at home miles away. My anger at this insane situation reminds me to breathe. It is out of my control.  My cheeks remain burning with aggravation at the days just begun.

I am carless and computer less.

I bustle us out of the store and evaluate. Next door is a craft store. I whisk us inside to find a treat to take home. Each girl picks a coloring book and new markers. I eye the candy sitting there taunting me by the cashier. I know I deserve a mid-day treat. It is too early for wine. With my girls’ attention diverted to their new loot I slip a chocolate bar into the mix.

Just as we step out the door we hear a train whistle from the tracks behind the store. My three-year-old’s eyes light up and she  breaks into a run. We get behind the store to see the larger-than-life locomotive.

My one-year-old asks for snack. I dish out her fish crackers and am ready to give my three-year-old her snack. She digs out of the shopping bag from the store- my chocolate bar. I watch in shock as she unwraps it and takes a big bite.

I feel the breeze from the fast train. I can smell the humid  from the summer air. Watching the pure delight from my daughters is breath taking. We normally see trains when we are in the car.

The caboose passes us as my older girl tucks the wrapper in the stroller.

She turns to me with a big smile and says, “This is the best day ever.”

I return her smile without thinking and give her a big hug. She is right. In this day and age of modern technical distractions we need to unplug in real life. All it takes to remind me is a train and a chocolate bar.

A Mother’s Gift Delivered After Death

My cheeks are burning from the speed and chill on the ice. I inhale the smell of the dry air as I whip around the corner ready to try the jump again. I lift off, certain that it is a good one. I come out of it and land on both feet. Dang. I berate myself as I hear the booming voice of my coach to start over.

I feel my mother’s warm smile beaming from the viewing area. It’s like she is right beside me whispering in my ear just to have fun. One glance to the speaker that bellows out my music, I smile and straighten my shoulders. I wait for the beat to begin. One crisp glide to the first spin and I am off.

I am fueled by the power and motivation that I will make this double salchow. I have to do it. There is no point of me competing if I can’t do the jump to give me higher points. Here we go. Up and away I go. Half way through I think about the land and feel that I will not make it. I land on two feet again. Ignoring my coach, I continue the routine.

 I do love figure skating but am not competitive. My family is filled with figure skaters.  When I showed interest at four years old, they jumped me into lessons. No one really competed hard, they just enjoyed it. I know I can too.

The momentum steers me around the corner towards the viewing area where all the moms, grandparents and other spectators are watching today’s practice. I look up and catch my mom’s eye. Her smile warms the chill I had felt.  Seeing her face reminds me of the talk we had right before practice. She looked me in the eye and told me to have fun, and that is all that matters. If I am nervous, don’t be.  Just have fun.

Days later, my right foot is dangling in the green shag carpet. My left is crossed under my right leg. I am snug in my mother’s lap on our black vinyl recliner in our living room. Her arms are wrapped around me like a seat belt. We say our good nights.

As I pad off to go down the hallway to my bedroom she calls to me, “Wait.”
I turn around with a grin. I know what’s next.
“I love you more than a million oceans,” she says.
“I love you more than a million oceans too.” I blow her a kiss.
I hit the pillow in my Star Wars-sheeted bed, unaware that it will be the last night we spend together in the same house.

I awake the next day off  to spend two weeks with my grandparents. Unbeknownst to me, my mom is going into the hospital for the last time.

My mom died of breast cancer a week after that fateful day in the arena 26 years ago. Today,  I am in the viewing area of the local gymnasium watching my three-year-old going through her routine.  She does not land everything nor complete her rolls. She is laughing and smiling at the teacher. Just this morning, I told her the same thing my mother told me all those years ago. When the fun stops we will find something that is. Something tells me today is not the last day.

Through the double-pane glass, I see my darling daughter searching for me. Our eyes connect and share a warm smile. She bounces off to the high bar. Within minutes the class is gathered  for the wrap up song and then the door opens.

I hold my arms out to welcome my little acrobat. I ask her if she had fun. She replies with a big “YES!” I get her shoes on and we head out the door to the car.

I only had my mother for the first ten years of my life. I never appreciated her mothering gifts until I became a mom. She never was a great housekeeper or cook, but she gave me a great lesson. Unconditional love is the best gift I could have received from her. We have a lot more in common than I realized since being a mom myself.

I smile to myself as we pull away in the car. Knowing that I parent like my mother makes me feel closer to her.

Later that night, “I got it,” my 3-year-old daughter bellows, ending my childhood memory by bringing me a book for storytime. Bedtime Nursery Rhymes.
We snuggle into our blue fabric chair, which does not recline, in our living room lit only by the reading lamp over our shoulder.
I read the book twice and hug her tight. I do not want to let go.
“Goodnight, sweetheart. I love you more than a million oceans.” I give her a kiss.
“I know, mom. I love you too,” she says as we climb the stairs to her bedroom.
I settle her into her bed. She closes her eyes.

My mother was not able to tell me a lot before she died. Love lessons are worth more than a million oceans. I never knew how to parent. When I became pregnant, I panicked. All I could do and still do is love them with all my heart.

I am not a great cook or housekeeper, but I love my children more than anything, just like my mom always did.

When Your Support Group Goes Back To Work and You Are Not.

When Your Support Group Goes Back To Work and You Are Not. What does a motherless SAHM do?

After the maternity leave was over, I panicked on what I would do. The decision to stay at home was easy due to what I would take home working outside the house.

So I took it day by day, keeping our calendar busy. We explored story-times at the library. I stopped into a rec center and signed us up for activities for mother and child. I made coffee dates when the weather got colder. We bonded over our love for banana loaf. Afterwards we would play at the kids section at Chapters, and most times there would be a book coming home with us for bedtime story.

Every week I filled our calendar with activities in the morning, home for lunch and quiet time or naps. A routine we both liked.

On the days or nights that loneliness set in, I would go online. Facebooking and emailing my mommy group kept me connected to the outside world.

The beautiful thing about online relationships is that I could log on at any time and talk with people from around the world. Many nights, I would be rocking my baby with one arm and clicking on the computer.

I wish Twitter was around in the early days.  After my second daughter was born, I joined up on Twitter. I have received much needed advice from recipes to parenting from this online community.

Every day is a struggle to balance both daughters’ schedules. Even though being a stay-at-home mom means a limited budget, I am here for my childrens’ every moment. If this is where I am meant to be, I will take it.

October lessons about my daughters.

My daughters are

anxious and affluent in love.

My daughters are

boisterous and beautiful.

My daughters are

curious and campy.

My daughters are

devoted to their daddy.

My daughters are

energetic and exhausting (for mommy).

My daughters are

feisty and fun.

My daughters are

gorgeous and genuine.

My daughters are

holders of my heart.

My family makes me realize this month that I will always miss my mom. It’s not about making muffins from scratch or knowing how to get applesauce out of a favorite shirt. It’s about love and lots of it.