Of the many shifts of focus required to become a mom, for what you gain, there was much you let go of. Typically, non-parent-people think of going out on the turn of New York minute first. But in truth, for me, I still believed in the words that Sandra Bernhardt said to David Letterman as she discussed her newly minted motherhood, “By the time your thirty-five you’ve had all the going out fun, you’re going to have. I was ready to become a mom.” I nodded in agreement back then and now, a good ten years later. What Sandra didn’t say was the real challenge that came with motherhood… dare I say, the baby clothes.
The first rumble my mom and I had over Julia regarded the matter of undershirts. She deemed them necessary, I saw them as an extra layer, extra work, not required for life indoors. Since I brought Julia home in early February there were many undershirtless days, and many fish-eyed, sly glares from my Mom from across the living room, over her book of crossword puzzles. Always the same edict. ” It doesn’t look like Julia has an undershirt on. Does she have an undershirt on? If not, she’ll catch cold.”
Then came the nanny, the fabulous Miss Dee, that makes all the difference for me as a working, single baby mama. A every working mom needs an A- team, “the village” spoken of in an African proverb famously quoted by Hillary Clinton. With my mom living out of state, Miss Dee heads mine ( with an amazing assist from Zia Carla and Aunts Sheila and Charlena, who have been called to babysit in the clutch and have.) Then there’s Ronda, and of course, my mom.
My mother, I realized as I prepared to wing my way to Louisville some weeks back was the only person I trusted to watch over my daughter with for ten, whole, long days and nights. I was grateful that she was ready, willing and able to come to New York and keep watch over Julia, Dee and the household. What I hadn’t calculated in, what I missed entirely was the notion that Miss Dee, Julia and my mom would go shopping. Together. For my child.
” We all went to T.J. Max today,” my mom announced as I dragged my can from school back to The Brown Hotel, after a long day of lectures, readings and constant rain. ” We picked out some shoes for Julia.”
” That’s great mom” I said, as the tall, elegant doorman swept open the door of the historic hotel with a flourish.” And we bought a holiday dress.”
” Holiday? What holiday?” Easter, the classic roll your kid up in crinoline moment had come and gone months ago.
“We picked out a dress a Memorial Day for Julia.”
A pair of stars and stripes shorts I had as a ten-year old, running through sprinklers on lawns of Detroit, came roaring up from the depths of my memory.
Surely, she did not. Surly she could not.
“It’s a cute dress, small, white stars along a navy bodice, red and white poke-a- dots along the middle, and ruffles of white stars start again along the bottom. Ties in a bow at the shoulders. Cute.”
I thanked her, clicked off the cell, jumped into the shower, and into fresh clothes to meet my scholar friends for cocktails and dinner. The vision of that star-spangled dress follow me throughout the evening. It trailed me throughout the week, until the last day, on the Delta flight home, back to Manhattan.
“Here it is!” my mom said, not long after I put my bags down and picked my daughter up, lassoing the baby into my arms. I dipped my nose into her neck, her heavenly scented skin, composed of baby lotion, baby powder, and organic carrots.
” Now you’re all ready for the holiday!” Mom said. So happy to come home to my daughter I left the matter of the dress for later.
Now, five days has come and gone, Memorial Day has arrived. The dress started up with me this morning. So I when it came time to dress Julia, I slipped it out of the drawer, and over her crown of dark curls. Whether or not it will leave the house, well, that was still uncertain. I now understand, more than ever, when we have an opportunity to make those we love happy, we should pick up the reins, or the crazy dress, and as the Nike tagline goes, “Just Do It.”