Stories by Deanna Mackey
It's the month where romantic love is the star and people are basking in it, passionately seeking it or mourning that it seems to be everywhere but in their heart.
As this column appears on KPBS' web site I am just days home from my traditional family Christmas that literally takes place at Grandmother's House. If you were to come to my office today you might still be able to see the shell-shocked look that follows more than a week of round-the-clock family, sugar, food, sugar, presents, sugar, late nights, sugar, fun, sugar, hair-raising temper tantrums, sugar.
Sometimes, I have to take my three-year-old to church. I say sometimes because my husband is not a churchgoer and often stays with her. But, sometimes hes out of town. Or, sometimes hes sleeping. Or, sometimes she realizes where Im going and theres no stopping her. She is a diva and at her tender age she believes church is about dressing up and she really likes to dress up.
If you follow parenting trends you may have heard about a Gen X and Y phenomenon called the
My husband was out of town this past weekend and I was home alone with my three sidekicks. I generally try to face these single parent days with a positive attitude, because the alternative is pretty bleak.
It annoys me when people reference the Terrific 2s. Its not because I dont think 2-year-olds are terrific. They are. Its thrilling to watch the world unfold before their eyes. Everything is new to them and they want to experience it all by themselves, on their terms, independently, regardless of the fact that they still need a diaper change following their afternoon nap and make it snappy sister, because theyve got things to do.
During a recent family dinner the five of us were talking when the conversation veered from what happened on the playground to our familys potential as reality TV contestants.
My mother is an excellent cook. She cooks everything from scratch roast pork with gravy, mashed potatoes, lasagna, black beans with garlic and a hint of chil, apple pie and mile-high chocolate cakes. She also does not believe a meal is complete unless it includes a protein, starch, vegetable and bread, lots of it. When I visit her home I amuse myself by going to the freezer and counting how many varieties she has. I remember once finding a dozen different bags of bread and rolls.
I cannot read an article or watch a program about autism without feeling tense. If I think too much about it sneaky tears spring at the corners of my eyes and I feel a familiar tightness in my throat.
I thought I knew what I was doing when I planned a three-month maternity leave after the birth of my first child. I was 30 at the time, with a decade of work experience under my belt. I thought Id be anxious to return to work after 12 weeks with a newborn. And then, the baby came. The first two months were a blur of sleepless nights, colic-induced shrieking and a learning curve for breastfeeding that was like being taught to juggle with my feet. Then, two weeks before I returned to work, my baby started smiling, stopped crying and helped me understand why people have more than one child. The night before I returned to work she slept through the night.
The older I get and the longer I parent I find its the simple things that bring me joy. I was actually afraid of facing the holidays this year because of all that would be expected and all that I feared Id leave undone. I traveled a lot leading up to December and I knew Id be playing constant catch up to do all the things Im responsible for (and used to doing) this time of year. I was afraid of getting so caught up in the expectations, that I wouldnt be able to enjoy anything. What I really wanted was some happy memories. I have a child who still believes in Santa Claus and one who just figured out who he is and likes the idea. I wanted to celebrate that magic.
What would you do if you were given two weeks with no responsibility and the permission to focus on yourself? Would you get perspective?
My mother has always been an advocate for the underdog. As a bilingual aide for Kindergarten she saw all likes of children. She truly found something special in all of them, especially those who other kids labeled as different often due to some mental or physical disability. She sometimes did yard duty at recess and if she saw my sister or me while she was talking with one of these kids shed always call us over to meet them. I remember how uncomfortable Id feel because I didnt want to leave my friends and have to play with a kid others didnt think fit in. But, there was no arguing with my mother on this point. Driving home after school she would always bring up the incident and remind us that it costs nothing to be kind and that we should always think about how a lonely child would feel if we walked away. She was the only adult I ever regularly saw reach out to these children and she was the only adult who demanded the same of me. While it was sometimes difficult for me, it planted a seed of tolerance that grew as I approached adulthood.
I've always believed in the adage that it takes a village to raise a child. But in the case of my son, one remarkable woman has made all of the difference.