Month: April 2011

A True Easter

Like the rings of a tree, where and how I’ve observed past Easters, has shaped the woman I am today. I spent my first eighteen Easter Sundays parked on a wooden pew in New Bethel Baptist Church as Rev. C.L. Franklin delivered his healing words of faith. Six of those years, from age four to ten, I rested in a sweaty relief after my Easter speech, a memorized ode, was successfully delivered before the two hundred-member congregation without the fatal flub that I’d feared for weeks.

Since the mid 1990s, as an adult,  I’ve celebrated the resurrection at Unity Church of New York City and as far away as The City of Lights. After being shipped out for a week-long, global marketing meeting for a Procter & Gamble product that—I’d learn in time—would never, ever see a commercial store shelf, Notre Dame served as my consolation prize.

I’ve had an illustrious buona Pascale among the beautiful, green grounds of a walled-home on the isle of Sardinia, my hair damp and curled from backstroking through the cool of Maurizio and Luisanna’s pool, the eye of a golden sun watching overhead. Later, that day I witnessed the arrival of Easter dinner to the communal table through a veil of tears. The view of the Melis’s lovely family—their daughters Marta and Alle, Maurizio’s brother, his wife and his baby daughter, and both Nonna’s, the grandmothers—sharing their al fresco family table with Tom and I, produced an overwhemlming, saturating love.  Later that afternoon, although the sky had clouded over, Tom’s eyes sunned over me—a man I deeply loved and was loved by. At the time.

The morning of Easter 2011 began at half past seven, with a bottle for Julia, a cappuccino for mom, followed by, around nine, a warm rice cereal laced with organic spinach, peas and pears, for baby. As I spooned the mixture into Julia’s bud of a mouth, before church service, she shared a broad, gummy smile with me, the variety that seemed to launch from her toes, gaining traction through her core until
it exploded across her cheeks, nearly extending to her ears.

Nothing new there.

Her grin waned, as grins do. Julia stared, directly, into my eyes, holding the connection for a long while, without blinking, long enough for me to begin weeping silent tears.

This connection— as frail as a flower, yet as strong as a thousand-year-old vine—produces new fruit, a fresh layer of lush love. I love differently because I am a different. On this day of rebirth comes a rich realization.

Then surprisingly, haltingly, Julia laughed. It wasn’t her typical, amused chuckle. Nor one of her, long strong string of giggles. The sound echoed in the air. The city still creaking to a Sunday start. Her laugh was more of an awe shucks guffaw that seemed to say to my ears, “I love you too you, silly mommy. Now feed me.”

The Ever Expanding Talents of a New Mom

For the first time in my life, I can get my butt in the bed by 10:30. (I’m talking P.M not A.M.)

This former night owl has accepted that getting in bed with a good book and winding-down before 11P.M makes for a better  morning. Most nights. Sometimes, sadly, I still go off the reservation, breaking curfew like a randy teen. I hang with Charlie Rose for his brilliant, late-night-chitty-chat, whether the segment centers on U.S. Foreign Policy or a Pulitzer Prize winning writer plugging a new book. No matter. Just as long as the conversation doesn’t land on Baby DaVinci, or Little Miss Spider. Then I follow Charlie up with a fifteen-minute hit of Jimmy Fallon, all the while knowing I’ll pay a price. And Miss Julia Tayech Holmes will demand that she and, the piper, be paid. I swear that daughter of mine is part rooster.

 I can do a host of things one handled, including going to the loo.

Some days, no matter what I do, no matter what I give the baby to play with, no matter what I sit in front of her (not the TV, think more in the line of a Leap Frog Play Table) it doesn’t work. She wants to be held. And I find, it’s just less work on my nerves, and psyche, to  make a physical adjustment with baby in hand or on a hip, and keep it moving.

A soiled diaper becomes an ordinary event.

Long ago,I read  Mother Nature had worked in some crazy olfactory system over ride so that the poopy diapers of your child  don’t smell quite as smelly to you, its mother. Since I didn’t actually give birth to The Julia I can’t put my finger on why I’ve found the diaper changing matter, overtime, a less than dramatic event. Only that I’m grateful that the process, ( unless there’s a blow-out) more or less, a stress less.

I accept that half of the clothes in my closet are now obsolete.

While many a fashionista has called for the end of the head-to-toe-all-black-Italian-Nonna-look, Miss Julia has single-handedly put an end to my love affair with black slacks, black tees, hell any item of clothing colored noir. That girl’s wee button nose and tiny hands can locate  any black fabric on my body and lay down a suppressing smear of snot, a flood of milky formula, or a crumbly oasis of oatmeal, with an accuracy that would make NATO jealous.

I can limit my exposure to local newscasts and re-runs of Law and Order.

A strong, well-crafted drama, or a crazy, true-to-life story, before February 4th, 2011 were just entertainment. Or an extremely sad moment in human history. Now any tragedy that centers on a harming a child—real or imaged—sends me leaping across the sofa for the TV’s remote control. Just last week, a very real chronically depressed, 25-year-old mother of four  in an upstate New York town drove her mini van into The Hudson River, drowning herself and three of her four children. As I stood before my TV, finishing the last of my morning coffee, my stomach heaved, sending my breakfast moving in reverse.

Return to Far, Far Away

At 10:45 AM, or so, on March 30th, my bubble of solitude clasped. And faded. I crossed the sand colored marble lobby of the office building on Hudson Street.

“Hiya,” the tall, barrel-chested security guard said from behind his wooden post.

Okay, Issy missed me, I thought. Turns out, many of my co-workers did, too. I stared and gawked at the thirty or forty so men and women who shared the fifth floor of my advertising agency with me, in awe. As my co-workers delivered their life and work updates, the same thought crossed my mind until it reached a gallop, no matter if I listened to a man or a woman.

“Wow, you’re speaking in complete sentences.”

I’d listened to a steady stream of ba-bahhhh-BAH! for two months. Now it was back to work for the single baby mama. This world, inhabited by well-dressed folks who used subjects and verbs in their communiques. An adults-only environment? Wow, I’d forgotten.

In some freaky, bizarre way, I had, over the eight weeks, begun to believe the company paid me to stay home and care for my daughter. That taking care of Julia was my only job. Since Julia’s adopted I can’t blame my lunacy on post-pregnancy depression. Or hormonal fall out. My best assessment: being crazy in love will make you nuts.

*

That sad Tuesday, I headed to the door of my apartment three times, my purse and cell phone in hand. And three times I came back to tell Dominique, the nanny, some previously forgotten detail about Julia:
“The stuffed butterfly is her favorite toy.”
“She’ll go right down for her naps, she doesn’t get chirpy.”
“At least three tablespoons of protein at lunch.”

Finally, I walked through the door, dark sunglasses in place. I figured that crying in front of the baby sitter on the first day was not a good look. Yet and still, as I waited for the elevator, the moment sunk into my chest, like a deep-sea diver who’d rush to the surface too fast. The coming reality, crushed into my chest and consciousness. I’d left everything dear to me—my nine-month-old-daughter, my home and all its contents—in the hands of a stranger. One woman. Dominique. I had to trust and believe all would go well.