The Infamous Snot Sucker


It’s a funny thing, but every generation of parents seems to think that it has invented the absolute best way to raise kids. Every generation creates new ways to do the same basic tasks of parenthood.

And every generation of grandparents rolls its collective old eyeballs and says, “Oh, brother.”

Some of what’s new is based in science, so even when it seems counterintuitive, we old timers do it. Like putting babies on their backs in cribs with no bumper pads. Pretty sure this practice has saved a lot of lives.

But some of these newfangled ideas are just plain ridiculous.

Take the diaper genie, for example. Wrapping disposable diapers in plastic bags that you stick in another plastic bag so you can throw it into your plastic trash bag? Nope. Nopie, nope, nope. Some new Moms think this thing is fabulous. It’s not.

We old ladies used to wrap up the poop and just drop it in the trash. That way, when the trash is full and the entire house smells of fresh doodies, NO ONE argues about throwing the trash. Trust me.

Likewise the latest “must have” item on most new Mom’s wish list. The famous “wipe warmers.” This is a device that keeps your box of butt wipes at body temperature so the little one doesn’t experience a chill on those most important little body parts.

Just plain stupid.

I mean, jeez. My parents thought using throw away wipes and throw away diapers was sissy stuff. My generation was NOT going to condone an electronic device to warm up the butt wipes. No freakin’ way.

Like every generation of old folks ahead of us, we grandparents are pretty sure that we know what we’re doing when it comes to raising kids. We regularly get together with our silver haired friends and say things like, “Oh, man, can you believe the car seats they have now? You could send a kid to the moon.” We fall asleep thinking, “When are they finally gonna give that kid some solid food?”

You know what I mean. We’re all puffed up thinking, “Well I raised three healthy kids even though I did use Vicks Vap-o-Rub.”

We’ve been there. We’ve done that. This ain’t our first rodeo.

Still.

There is one new device that has absolutely revolutionized baby care. It is a device that should make every grandparent sing songs of praise.

Really.

I call it, the “Infamous Snot Sucker,” although it has other names.

Remember this thing?

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Back in the day, when your baby had a really bad cold, you used this thing to get all that green goo out of their noses. It was relatively efficient, but you had to shove the pointy part halfway up to the kid’s brain to get it to work. AND you had to be really coordinated while you were trying to suck out the snot or you’d end up blowing air into those little nasal passages and just making things worse.

Not only that, but once you had a plastic bulb full of gooey green, germ infested slime, you could never be sure that you had actually cleaned it out.

I had very allergic kids. We had a LOT of upper respiratory infections. I threw out a bulb a month, I swear.

Now, though, we have the newly invented “NoseFrida” or “Infamous Snot Sucker”!!! Angels are singing, I kid you not.

Here it is, in all it’s glory:

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I don’t know who “Frida” is, but she’s a freakin’ genius.

Do you hear the angels? I do!

This device is amazing, if nauseating. See, when the little ones come down with terrible colds, and the huge green bubbles of snot are continuously bursting out of their tiny noses, this is the thing you need.

It uses a very simple scientific premise to work its magic.

It’s just a teeny, tiny vacuum. It sucks the snot right out of those minute nasal passages. And it is powered by….well….suction.

Suction from the mouth of the desperate adult who pokes the open tip of the device into the nose of the sick baby. Suction from the mouth of the exhausted, cranky adult who holds the little red mouthpiece in her aging lips and sucks.

Like, she inhales. You know. Toward her (gag) mouth.

Here’s where it gets good. (Stay with me.)

The giant globs of yellow green goop come streaming out of the tiny nose. The grandmother on the other end of the device thinks, “What the HELL? That thing is bigger than HE IS!” If said old lady can avoid the desire to shriek, drop the snot sucker and run to the bathroom, she can reach for a tissue and wipe the whole disgusting mess off the face of the sick child.

She can then switch nostrils and do the same thing on the other side.

The bad part?

Well, the first three or six or twenty times you do this, you will find yourself gagging like you haven’t gagged since that college night with the bottle of Southern Comfort.  This process is. so. disgusting.

But the good part?

This genius design prevents the actual snot clots from traveling the length of the blue tube. Which means that they never reach the tiny sponge that is placed strategically to block their passage into your mouth.

You are safe. I promise. You will not suck up the snot.

That snotsucker name? It’s, like, a euphemism.

What WILL happen is that the enormous worm of infected mucus that has been hiding in the nasal passages of your beloved baby will be pulled out by the power of your grandparenting lungs. It will slip out of the tiny nostril, where it will immediately attack the cheeks, lips, eyeballs and hair of the afflicted. It will then slither down to your hand, onto your shirt, and will try to make its escape before you grab it with the tissue of death and deposit it into the toilet.

You will be grossed out. You will probably need a very, VERY hot shower as soon as your grandbaby goes home. Also a shot of good Scotch.

But.

The little one will look at you with wide eyes, filled with joy and laughter. Not only has he managed to cover you in green snot, he has also suddenly rediscovered the joy of breathing.

So. New grandparents, new parents, new aunts who might be watching the kids, do yourselves a favor.

Invest in the “Infamous Snot Sucker” and prepare to be amazed.

Nauseated, horrified, disgusted and amazed. All at once.

 

Predicting Love


Love is never predictable. When we’re young, we think we’ll fall in love with the perfect specimen of boyfriendness or girlfriendness. We think someone we have a crush on will be “the one” and life will be filled with rainbows and unicorns.

Then we meet someone kind and attractive and gentle and BAM. Not expected, not predicted, but there you have it.

Love.

I thought that after having been married to the same BAM guy for 39 years, and after loving and raising three children, that love would be exactly what I expect it to be.

I thought that love would be more predictable.

Two years ago, when my first child gave birth to her first child, I fell head over heels in love well before the baby was born. I intellectually loved her. I loved the idea of her, the fact of her existence, the philosophical meaning of her new life.

But as she grew, and became our funny, smart, loving little Ellie, I have fallen ridiculously, madly in love with her. I love her eyebrows, for God’s sake. I love her toes. I love the skin that gathers salty sweat in the folds of her neck. I love her breath and her teeth and her ankle bones.

I’m insane.  My whole world has been filled with Ellie.

Then, three weeks ago, her baby brother was born.

He is perfect and sweet and sleepy and he smells like a baby. I love the idea of him. I love the philosophical meaning of his life.

But you know what? Even when I held him on his first day, I wasn’t feeling that crazy kind of love. Even when I’ve been at his house to help change and care for him, I have only had eyes for Ellie.

I have been one very guilt-wracked Nonni, believe me. How could I not be feeling the same crazy depth of love for Johnnie that I had felt from the very first moment for his sister?

I didn’t know.  It didn’t make sense.

I knew that I would take good care of him, and would love him and play with him. But would I ever fall in love with him, the way I had with Ellie?

Today my son Tim and his sweet lady were here for dinner. My daughter and her family came, too. We sat outside on this gorgeous summer day, and Ellie played in the pool and picked strawberries with Papa.

We ate, we drank some beer, we talked and laughed and watched the Red Sox. It was loud and hectic and busy. It was fun!

But then, when dinner was over, everyone left to see a concert. Everyone except for me, Ellie and Johnnie and their mommy. Ellie went to take a nap, and her Mom went in to lie down with her.

The house was quiet, except for the whirring of the window fans. The dogs were asleep on the floor. A hummingbird was at the feeder.

Johnnie was in my arms, resting against my chest. One of my hands held his bottom, the other was curled around the back of his warm, silky head. He was murmuring and sighing, making the tiny noises of a newborn child.

I felt my heart beating against his. I breathed in his breath.

The house was quiet. I touched my lips to his cheek just as he touched his to my neck.

BAM.

There it was.

It isn’t rational, or explainable, this love for my grandchild. The words I am wrapping around it are only the faintest echo of the explosion that I felt.

My cells, my DNA, my soul were pierced by his weight in my arms.

I know. I’m crazy.

But love is unpredictable. Sometimes, like the love of a Nonni for her grandson, we know that it will strike us at some point.

It’s just that we can’t always say when.

BAM, little Johnnie. Welcome to my heart.

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When You’re Two, Everything Is Fun


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Ah, life with a toddler.

It’s glorious, wonderful, enlightening, hilarious, joyful.

It’s also something better suited to young parents than it is to aging Nonni types. Which isn’t to say that I’m complaining, OK?

I’m just….sharing. That’s all.

Today I picked Ellie up a little later than usual. I knew that her Mommy had gone to work early, and that she’d spent the morning with Dad.

What I didn’t know was that she’d only been awake for a few minutes when I got her. I was struck by the fact that her hair looked like a cross between a bowl of rotini and a bird nest, and that she wasn’t wearing shoes.

At my request, her Dad ran back inside and grabbed her sandals, and off we went. I wanted to grocery shop before we went home, because the weather was forecast to be in the mid 90’s. We needed to get home and fill her little pool before the worst of the heat hit us.

So. I stopped inside the grocery store and brushed out the curls and tangles, placing a little pony tail on one side of her head to keep her eyes visible. Her hair is a miracle of beauty and stubbornness, and I’m obsessed with it.

Then we shopped, and as we did, my tiny girl ate slices of turkey, ham and cheese, pea pods and string cheese. I bought some new toddler cups and a bottle of water, and she sucked down some liquid to counteract her salt.

And home we went, where I raced around my steamy house trying to put away groceries. My tiny girl ate some blueberries and yogurt. Her face and hair showed them both beautifully.

At last, we were ready to head out into the beautiful summery day. First, though, we had to sunscreen from head to toe, spray on safe organic bug spray, put on the sunhat and tighten it under the chin, grab the toys, (no, no, One Eyed Elmo can’t swim), put the dogs inside the fence, and get some water.

I blew up the pool, and filled it with water from the hose. The hose that is attached to the sprinkler. Attached so tight that Nonni almost burst a blood vessel trying to get it off.

Its on there that tightly because Papa really loves his strawberry patch and he wants it watered.

Baby pool, be damned.

So by the time the tiny blow up pool was filled with ice cold water, Nonni was soaked to the skin from the wonderful, back and forth sprinkler.

For one glorious hour, we splashed, we jumped in the pool, we shivered, we ran around on the grass. Finally it was lunch time, and Nonni pulled out one of her patented grandmother tricks.

“Ellie! Let’s go inside for an ice cream cone!”

Come on. I figured that at 22 pounds, she’d already consumed enough healthy calories for the day. So in we went, and I stripped off her wet clothes, leaving her in her bug sprayed, sunscreened, sweat soaked skin. I put her in her highchair and filled a cone with two big scoops of peanut butter cup ice cream. (Protein. I swear.)

After I had cleaned myself up and done a couple of quick chores, I joined Ellie at the table. I had a leftover cheeseburger in front of me.

“Mmmm!” My baby girl said, reaching out. “mmmm, beef!” So we shared. And her hair, slicked back with oily sunscreen and dead bugs, now got a lovely coating of ketchup.

At last she was full, and I scooped her up and dropped her into a warm, bubble filled tub. She had a nice, thorough shampoo, and lots of lather to make sure no ticks were hiding in any dark places.

We settled into the living room, in front of the fans, with her golden skin so clean and shining, and her glorious curls smooth and completely pristine.

“Ahhhhhh,” Nonni thought, “I do such a good job of taking care of this girl. ”

I checked my email while Ellie watched an episode of “Elmo’s World”. Elmo was learning about potty training, so I felt particularly smart and accomplished as a day care provider.

But if you’ve ever seen Elmo, you’ll know that he has a goofy sidekick named, “Mr. Noodle.” This hapless guy appeared on my TV, and Ellie’s eyes lit up.

And you guessed it.

“Noodles?” She asked, her bright dark eyes alive with hunger. “Noodles? Ellie? Eat?”

So.

I did what any self-respecting Nonni would do. I made her a bowl of noodles. Wagon wheels, in fact. I put in some peas and a big blob of butter. And back in the high chair she went, smooth skin, diaper on, clean, clean hair.

Until I went into the kitchen to wash dishes.

And came back two minutes later to see Ellie, eyes closed in apparent ecstasy. Saying, “mmmmmmmm” as she rubbed her two hands through her glorious curly hair. Hands filled with noodles, peas and butter.

She gave herself a pasta and butter shampoo.

I think a squeak of despair may have come out of my mouth. Or maybe a little, tiny, whispered curse.

Or something.

Anyway.

I picked her up, washed her with a face cloth, and dragged a brush through the excessively buttered hair.

“I’m giving you back to Mommy soon,” I said, as I laid a towel under her head before naptime.

Really. I’m having fun and all, but this is definitely a job for a younger woman.

 

A Puppy, A Baby and a Sleepy Old Nonni


One of the many pleasures of being a ‘stay at home Nonni’ is that I get to nap when Ellie does.

I have always loved naps. Always.

My dad was a wonderful napper. He could close his eyes and sleep for 15 minutes and wake up completely refreshed.

I get this talent from him.

When Ellie was very small, we used to nap together in the recliner. I’d hold her in my arms and we’d both drift off.

Now she’s too big for that to be safe, so now we lie down together on my bed. She goes to sleep, and I read or write. Sometimes (OK, pretty much every day) I fall asleep , too.

Today was one of those challenging days, when you’re not sure you can make it all work. It was snowing hard when the puppy woke me up at 6. I stayed awake checking the school closings. Would Kate have to drive to school? Would she be able to go in late?

I finally realized that her school schedule was unchanged, which meant that mine was, too. I made the coffee and headed out into the icy snow/rain mix to get my granddaughter.

It was a long, slow, slog to her house and back, a round trip of about 10 miles. At least we turned into our driveway, and I gave the old Colonial America cheer, “Huzzah!”  To my joy and pleasure, Ellie yelled it right back at me.

The day was fine, but by the time I saw Ellie rubbing her eyes at about 2 o’clock, I was ready and willing to rest. I had already cooked, served and cleaned up both breakfast and lunch. I had wrestled Lennie for possession of 4 boots, 6 socks, a mitten, 43 toys and one winter coat.

I was more than ready to bring Ellie into my bedroom for a nice nap. The problem was that Lennie was NOT in nap mode.

He was running in circles around us, grabbing at the blankets, my book, the pillow…..

I tried offering a treat. “Good boy, Lennie, good dog. Lie down!”  No good.

I tried putting down a nice warm blanket. “Lennie, time to rest!”  No good at all; he tried to eat it.

Finally, I had had it. Ellie was whining, wanting a book. My back was aching. It was snowing outside and I wanted to LIE THE HELL DOWN.

So I turned to the puppy and snarled, “LIE THE HELL DOWN!”

To my shock, he did.

Ellie and I settled in, read “Good night Moon” and she fell asleep. I wrote an article for LiberalAmerica, and then I went to sleep, too.

And when I woke up, Ellie was still snoozing, her soft curly hair moving with her gentle breaths.

I looked over the side of the bed.

There was my baby Lennie, curled into the shape of a snail. And right beside him, curled up in the exact same shape, only three times larger, was my old dog, Tucker. Side by side on one doggie bed.

I lay back down, listening to the combined sounds of two sleeping dogs and one sleeping baby girl.

Life can be so unexpectedly perfect, you know?

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The Nonni Chronicles, part 1


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Dear Ellie

How on Earth do you do it?

You are absolutely entrancing.  And I do not say that lightly!

I mean, I’ve raised three kids, as you know.  I just have never had a child as tuned in and as social as you are.

You are really a unique little girl! You have the most serious and thoughtful gaze, as if you understand not only every word, but every emotion, every passing thought.  I hold you on my lap, my hands around your ribs, your almost steady neck holding you upright.  I talk to you, all nonsense.  “Are you just the prettiest baby in the world? Are you my bean of a girl? You are! You are a sweet beanie!”  Your dark, dark eyes hold onto mine, never wavering, barely blinking.  You watch me so closely!

Sometimes when I talk, when I sound a little serious, I see your eyes moving around my face, switching from my right eye to my left, looking at my mouth as I speak. You hold my eyes; I can’t look away no matter how hard I try!  I am so completely entranced by you.

Ellie, what are you thinking?

When I feed you, you rest so trustingly in the crook of my left elbow, drinking without effort.  It always seems as if your mind is somewhere else.  Sometimes you stare up at me, those deep brown eyes completely steady and totally alert.

What do you see when you look at me?  Do you see safety, love, family?  Do you wonder where your Mommy has gone?  Do you see a gray haired old lady with funny glasses on, and wonder what she wants from you?  I wish I knew……

Sometimes your eyes are fixed on my face, and as soon as I meet your gaze, you break into a huge grin, letting the streams of milk run down your cheeks and onto your neck.  As if you’ve been just waiting to make eye contact! As if you are just thrilled to see me seeing you.

Ellie, you’re only three months old, for goodness sake.  Babies just don’t act this way.

Honey, I suspect that you are a very old soul.   And good God, your Nonni just loves you to pieces.

Why I NEED my granddaughter.


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She certainly looks like she needs her Nonni, doesn’t she???????

So the thing is, I totally support the idea of a full year of maternity leave. I really do! I think that Mom’s should stay at home with their babies. I am a huge Bernie Sanders fan, so I agree that the United States absolutely MUST keep pace with every other western nation and MUST guarantee maternity leave for our young mothers.

Really.  I agree.

But the thing is…………

I retired in June.  So I’m not a teacher any more. No more bright eyed children greeting me every morning with a hug and a smile. No more earnest young parents telling me how well I know their children.  No more validation. No more laughter. No more feeling of worth…….

And my kids are way grown up!  I mean, my baby is 23 years old!  ALL three of them are better cooks than I am.

Nobody needs me anymore.

I woke up this morning, and my first thought was, “Hell, I have a sniffle.”  It seemed completely logical that I should just curl back up under the covers and sleep the day away.  I didn’t have an actual cold or anything. I mean, no deep cough, no fever, no chills.

But what the hell? I was sort of sniffly.  And tired.  And I wanted to sleep some more.

And……….(drum roll, please)……..NO ONE needed me to be up and about.

Awful.

The worst.

I got myself up, and dragged my sad old butt into the living room.  Where I saw my two old dogs.  And I suddenly remembered that Sadie is supposed to be dying. And Tucker had his spleen taken out.  He was recently evaluated by a Chinese Medicine Specialist who suggested that I cook for him.

Woohooo! Someone needed me!

I pulled out the vet’s suggested food list.  Huh.  It looked a whole heckavah lot like the food list suggested by my workout group…..  I made a big batch of oatmeal and pumpkin, and divided it into three bowls.

The dogs didn’t have an espresso, but other than that, we shared our breakfasts.

And later in the day, I got up off the couch and whipped up a batch of pumpkin-whole wheat dog biscuits.  All natural.  Yup.

Dinner tonight was soup. Chicken and meatball soup for the humans.  Nice rich lamb soup with carrots and broccoli for the dogs.

Dear God.

I need my daughter to go back to work.  As soon as possible. I need my granddaughter here!   I need an actual human child to care for. I need a baby in my house to remind me that I still have some value, that I still need to get up in the morning, that I still have to show up in my life.

I need to make soup for a human.  I need to feed that human and have that human look at me with a big smile and shining eyes.

So.

In spite of my deep belief in a full year of maternity leave, I am kind of counting the minutes until my daughter goes back to teaching and I am the one in charge of taking care of our beautiful Ellie.

Am I a really bad Mom?

Birth and Death


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This is not going to be a very deep or philosophical post.  I put the picture of seashells in there just because they’re pretty, and if I don’t put a picture in my posts, it looks funny on Facebook.

I am very groggy.  Not quite “new mom” groggy, but definitely “new grandmother” groggy.  I can’t seem to concentrate on anything.  I try to do things like pay my bills, but my brain won’t function normally.

All I can think about is our little Ellie.  Her fingers. Her eyelashes. Her lips.  Her sweet little round belly, that fits perfectly in my cupped palm.

I tried to do some errands yesterday, walking through the grocery store with my shopping list in hand. I walked out without half of what I needed. I forgot to buy the orange juice that I get every single week.

I looked at the people moving around me in the store, putting things in their cars in the lot, driving on the highway.

How could they be acting as if nothing had happened?  It literally seemed unfathomable to me that the world could just be moving along in its normal path when for me, everything had changed.

And I was suddenly and sharply reminded of the weeks after my father’s death.  I was in a daze, foggy and numb.  I remember being in the same grocery store and feeling a spurt of anger at the people who were acting as if everything was just fine.

“Everything has changed!”, I wanted to scream at them. “Dad is gone! The universe will never be the same.”

I feel the same way now, almost.

Everything has changed.  Ellie is here! The universe will never be the same.

That Perfect Gift for Mom


This post is for all of those lovely young women who are considering pregnancy/dreaming of pregnancy/in the middle of pregnancy.

You know those pesky gift giving days (Christmas, Mother’s Day, Mom’s Birthday….) when you just can’t figure out what to give your Mom? Those relentlessly repeating days when you are supposed to present your mom with a lovely gift, all tastefully wrapped and accompanied by a ridiculously drippy card all about love and flowers and dancing angels…..You know what I’m talking about! I know you do!

Well, here’s the secret that they don’t tell you in the “how to please your Momma” textbook.

Your  Momma doesn’t actually need another #1 Mom coffee mug, or another pair of Ultra Comfy Slipper Socks.  Or a gift certificate to the local grocery store.

Nope. She doesn’t.

If you really want to make your Momma happy, and fill her heart with love and gratitude and joy and hot chicken soup, this is what you should do.  I promise you, this is a fail-safe, guaranteed Make-your-Momma-happy plan.

Here’s what you do:

You go into labor, and you insist that your Mom be in the room with you. You labor for hours with your Mom in the room.  You let her sit back and watch as your husband, her “you’re not my real kid” son-in-law strokes your forehead and whispers how much he loves you. You allow your Mom to rub your back when the pain hits, and you let her run down to the cafeteria when you crave a treat.

If you really want to give your Mom the ultimate gift, you let her stay up all night with you as you labor. You let her sleep in a chair so that she can watch over you as you sleep.  You let her reassure you in the deepest part of the night, when you are Googling “Epidurals and Hard Labor”.  You allow her to refill your ice and water cup. You let her share the “breathe” routine with your husband.

When its time for the doctor to come and check your progress, you reach for your Mom’s hand, and the two of you think together “please, please, please, please say 6 centimeters!”   When the doctor looks up with a surprised grin, you let your Momma yell to your showering husband, “Honey, hurry up! It’s time to push!!!!”

You let your Momma stand there and watch you as you do the hardest work of your life. You let her cheer you on as you push and breathe and growl.  You hold the hand of the man you love best in all the world, and you let your Momma watch you.

And when at last that beautiful baby is born, you let your Mom and her “You are really one of mine” son-in-law embrace and shed a few tears together.  You let her watch as that young man cuts the cord and you allow her to watch that very first moment, when you snuggle your little one on her chest.

THAT my friends, is the ultimate, not to be beaten, never forgotten gift to a Momma. After this, you’ll never ever need to buy another coffee cup in your life.

Thank you, thank you, Katie and Sam!!!!  I love you!

Ellie


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It was all so perfect.  So beautiful.

It has been the most exciting, scary, thrilling, exhausting, confusing, uplifting, life changing weekend of my life.

So how do I write about all that?  Where do I begin?

She’s here: Our granddaughter is here!

Two and a half weeks early, she made her appearance this past weekend, in the middle of our annual huge family reunion camping trip.

Yep. You got that right: her parents were camping when she decided to begin her journey into the world.  At the same campground were her grampa and about 50 other close relatives. All sound asleep after a wonderful evening of celebratory eating and drinking.  Her Nonni (me) was about fifteen minutes away in a nice dry, clean motel.

I can’t write it all down here; I am still too filled with bubbles of joy and shivers of nerves and a huge fog of fatigue.  I can’t write it all down.

But I can tell you this:

When I held her this afternoon, one day after her birth, I felt a wave of love as deep as that I feel for her Mom. Just as deep and just as sharp.  Baby Ellie, I would do anything in the world to keep you safe. I would die for you. I would give you my last bite of food, my last nickel, my very last breath.   My love for you is just as deep as my love for my own children.

But its wider. Its broader. It covers more of the terrain of my heart.  Baby Ellie, when I look at your perfect pink shell fingernails, I know that I am seeing my firstborn child in you.  I am seeing the only man I’ve ever loved, your Grampa.  I am seeing my mother, and my sisters and my brothers. I am seeing my Nana, and my MammaNonni and my cousins and my aunts and uncles.  When I look at your sweet silken eyebrows, I am seeing your Daddy, and his Daddy and his.  I am seeing all of the aunts and uncles and cousins that I have yet to meet.  My love for you is a giant circle, pulling in everyone who has given you a piece of what is now you.

Baby Ellie, my life will never ever be the same again.  You don’t know any of this yet.  All you know is that you are surprised to find that you suddenly have to actually work for food.  You only know that you recognize the sound of your parents voices, so you open those milky blue eyes whenever they speak.  You only know the feel of their skin, the comfort of their hands.  You don’t realize that just by being born, too early but at the perfect time, you have given the greatest gift to the people who love you.  You don’t understand that by arriving far from home, but in the most perfect and wonderful place, you have cemented your place in your family’s history and lore.

I can’t write down the details yet. Not yet. They are too fresh and too precious.  But these few things I do know, and will share.

You really can surprise yourself with how much love is being stored in your heart.

The human body is an amazing and gorgeous creation; birth is a perfectly synchronized dance between mother and child.

Twenty Nine years ago, although I didn’t realize it at the time, I gave birth to a goddess.

A Quarter of a Century


It was March 30, 1990.  It was a cold day, raw and wet, the way that early spring in Massachusetts so often feels.

I remember that Paul had gone to work in the morning, and that I met him later in the day.  I got my little girl dressed.  My beautiful first born, my sweet Katie, my little girl.  I packed her little pink backback.  Snacks, a juice box, a coloring book and crayons, paper so that she could draw.  Two or three little books.

We got in the car to drive the hour or so that it would take for us to get to the lawyer’s office.

I was pregnant.  About twenty weeks. I was excited, tired, a little bit anxious.  This was a big day for our young family!

I parked the car, took my baby girl by the hand, carrying her backpack and my purse.  I put a hand on my belly, knowing that this day was an investment for the baby boy I carried as much as it was for the little girl who skipped along the sidewalk by my side.  We walked into the lawyer’s office. I remember feeling awkward, off balance, a little bit giddy.

I remember the long polished table, the pages and pages of documents. I remember being mostly aware of Katie, of hoping that she’d stay quiet. I remember her chatting, laughing, showing me her pictures. I remember her bright spirit filing up the room.  I remember signing, and and signing and signing again. I remember glancing at Paul, my nerves probably showing in my anxious smile.

And then I remember that it was done.  We were officially home owners.

We’d done it.  We had signed a mortgage.

We went to the new house, where Paul shook up the bottle of champagne that I was dying to sip after 20 weeks of abstinence, and let it fly off the deck and into the woods. I remember Katie laughing. 10928170_10205765881363753_4035390159804004719_n

The details are fading now, but the feelings are still there.  The thoughts and reactions, the gulping sense of “Oh, my God….”, the excitement as I looked out at OUR trees, OUR woods, OUR yard.

This little house, this modest place in this struggling town, has held and cherished so much that is the best part of my life. My children learned to read here, learned to ride bikes, learned to set the table, learned to make pasta here. This is the home where we hosted our first family Christmas party.  This where they went Trick or Treating, where they found their first Lady Slipper, where they walked our first dog.

This is where they held birthday parties. Where they got ready for their first dates.

This is home.

Twenty five years have gone by now.  So many old trees have come down, so many new plants have been added. The deck has been rebuilt; my beloved hot tub has been added. The basement, once a cold damp storage room, has seen a wood stove, a pellet stove, bookshelves, a big TV. It has housed too many hockey games, and it has hosted an entire heavy metal band. Now it holds books, and games and a not-very-much-used elliptical machine.

Twenty five years have gone by.  Where I was once the pregnant mother, now it my daughter who is awaiting her first child. She is due on the very same day, twenty five years later, that I was told to expect her younger brother.

That little girl is a woman now.  She is almost a Mom in her own right.

The house needs work, the yard has changed, the latest dogs are getting older.

A quarter of a century has passed.  Everything has changed.  Nothing has changed at all.