My mom suffers from advanced osteoporosis. The past six months have brought a rapid decline in her mobility accompanied by acute, unrelenting pain. To be specific: seven or eight cervical fractures, three cracked ribs, and a battered knee-cap.
We spoke on Wednesday. As we were hanging up, I remarked on how chipper she was sounding.
"I feel really well," she said.
And I feel really grateful.
My parents arrive on Saturday. I can't wait for them to meet sweet Ainsey-girl!
We were downtown for a doctor’s appointment this morning, so I hopped over the river to South Carolina to pick up few Christmas bargains at the Shop Crammed with Cheap Stuff.
And crammed it was. For the holidays the main aisles – the only aisles that are passable on a good day – were crammed with folding tables crammed with festive sweaters, electric travel mugs, fondue pots, and the like. My visit underscored my deeply held belief that there isn’t a merchandiser around who has actually pushed a stroller – single, double, umbrella, or jogger – through a store. Truly it’s hard to believe the fire marshals aren’t all over this place.
But cheap it was too! Cute shirts - $5.00! Cute photo coasters - $5.00! Baby shoes - $5.00! I loaded up.
As the trip wore on, I could tell the blood sugars were falling fast. I attempted to navigate through the baby section – crammed to the fourth power – and John began a rapid meltdown. He took off his shoe and then Ainsley’s shoe and then her sock. I confiscated shoes and sock as I weaved in and out of racks. What the cart didn’t knock over, John managed to grab. The blood sugar continued to plummet, and the blood pressure began to rise. I headed for the checkout counter.
Not quickly, of course, because I could scarcely move. I was stuck behind a woman whose cart was stuck between racks. Behind me was a clerk pushing an enormous rack crammed with more cheap stuff.
I was checked out and heading for the door when I noticed John was missing his other shoe. Cheap only goes so far when you have to replace a pair of shoes. Back into the fray we went in search of the shoe.
Hangers were snapping. Parkas and jeans were cascading. My patience was waning. Still no shoe.
“John,” I said in exasperation, “Where is your shoe?”
“Dere it is!” he said, pointing beneath a rack of house coats.
Since Tim’s birthday last week, John has been going around singing, “May God bwess you! May God bwess you!”
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me.” And they do.
I treasure the moments I’ve spent with my children in prayer, in Mass, in scripture reading. Their innocence, authenticity, and trust surely delight God as they do me.
There was two-year-old Kolbe who one day grasped a crucifix and said, “Jesus, come to the prayer meeting tonight and give me a big hug!”
He had just learned the “Our Father” and one night piously concluded his prayers with “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from Nemo.”
We once overheard Kolbe sing, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, I don’t want to go to bed” to the tune of “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty.”
Prayer provides such a window into a soul. Kids pray about the things most important to them—for healthy babies and ailing grandparents, for long-dead cats and long-awaited puppies.
For years astronaut Alan Shepherd figured prominently in Tim’s prayers. Tim had read so many books about the early space missions, he was full of gratitude that Colonel Shepherd had survived his flight. Later Tim moved on to electronics. Kneeling at weekday Mass, I watched him clasp his hands and say, “Jesus, I don’t have a gameboy.”
As my children have grown, I have watched their prayers change a bit. One summer day we were scattered around the house having a few moments of private prayer. Kolbe had a prayer journal that walked children through prayers of praise, repentance, thanksgiving, and petition.
“Mom," he called from the next room, “How do you spell kicked?”
A few minutes later I heard, “Mom, how do you spell tripped?”
And finally, “Mom, how do you spell brother?”
I’m guessing he was on the repentance part.
Kolbe’s journal includes places to draw pictures. Nearly every drawing is of our family. The stick-family Dolins are always gathered around a bonfire. His intercessions express urgent pleas for a dog and a fervent hope that Ainsley would be a boy.
The oddest prayer? “Thank you for this day, the soldiers in Iraq, and the rights of Englishmen.”
Glancing through Kolbe’s journal, I’m glad Ainsley is a girl, but I suddenly have a yen to drag out the fire pit. As for the dog, one day, sweet Kolbe, one day.
During the 1918 flu pandemic, little girls would jump rope to this grim ditty:
I had a little bird His name was Enza I opened up the window And in flew Enza
Well, it's landed here.
Tim and Dave are sick, sick. I am nursing Ainsley wearing a mask. (If you want to be aware of how often you kiss your babies, just put on a mask.)
I rolled out of bed this morning and asked Tim how he was feeling.
"Sick," he said. "Let's just leave it at that."
In the midst of it all, I am grateful for doctors who take good care of us and supply us with samples. For friends who run to the grocery store. For Tamiflu (even if it is $86.00). For my sisters Kate and Karen who call and chat and don't tell my Dad we have H1N1 in the house. For Ainsley who is, without a doubt, the easiest baby woman ever birthed. For the good health that we usually enjoy.
May I offer up this short-term inconvenience for the many, many people who are chronically ill, most especially my Mom.
I am running around like my hair's on fire trying to get a long-overdue article completed, get a rudimentary Christmas list moving forward, and honor Tim on his 12th birthday. Meanwhile, John is chillin' with his chocwate milk.
The "experts" say you shouldn't encourage baby talk. I say lighten up! We mothers of two-year-olds deal with all manner of challenging behavior and face potty training to boot. Let's savor those elements of this stage that are sweet. Blossoming speech certainly is.
A few of John's milestones:
First word: Mama
First two-word combination: Hot Plate! (Said with a Spanish accent.)
Longest: Pwize! Aunt Patti gave it to me.
Melts my heart: Dadt! He is here! Dadt! (Followed by a high speed race to the door.)
Wish he’d never learned it: No fair!
Courtesy of his older brothers: ‘Tupid!
On itchy jammies: I don’t wike dem. Okay?
He’s a boy: It need new battweez.
On Ainsley: I hold it!
An odd one: It’s mah thumb dwive!
Three cheers for the two-year-olds in our lives. They are, indeed, pwecious.
When our first was a toddler, we, like all parents of toddlers, would find things in the oddest places. When an item would turn up missing, Dave would say, "Think like Tim."
The lock and key to our shed vanished the other day. I searched and hunted and finally said to myself, "Think like John."
John loves to throw things in the bushes. Off I went to rifle through the shrubs. The first four bushes produced a cache of five balls, one shoe, a shovel, and an icky sock (left to mulch the garden). I was about to give up when I spotted the key deep in the forsythia.
I laugh (or groan) about Tim and the ginormous collection of books, comics, puzzles, etc. that he stows in his bed. As I settled into my bed the other night, I noticed the pile of books I had selected for the whopping ten minutes I planned to read before falling asleep. My pile is a tad neater than Tim's, but, yes, it's still a pile.