Two Newish Moms
Today is Mother’s Day.
Go ahead. Read that sentence again.
That. Is. Crazy.
It’s Mother’s Day. Which means it’s May. Which means it’s almost summer. Which is impossible because yesterday I was in Iowa doing Stages, and that shit started in February.
Sorry. I’m doing my breathing exercises. In, two, three, four. Out, two, three, four. Repeat, two, three, four. Out, two, three, four.
I spent an hour with my mother and father this afternoon. She told Jaimie and I about the how her and my dad started dating. It was 47 years ago this weekend. Her and my father were set up by my Aunt Geri, and their first date was on Mother’s Day. Feels apropos, considering that their kids have been one of the defining roles of their lives. My parents were meant to have kids. Meanwhile the four of us have only have managed to eek out one grandchild in return.
But today’s blog isn’t about my mother. It’s about two of the new mothers in my life.
It’s still hard for me to think of my sister Valerie as a mom. It’s hard for me to think of her as anything other than eleven year old. What happens with oldest children is that our siblings get frozen at the age they were when we left home. To me, a part of Anneclaire is always thirteen, a part of Valerie is always eleven, and part of Rachel is always eight.
But Valerie is no longer eleven. She has a job and a husband and a kid. She owns a house, has an IRA and opinions on world events.
And this past three months, I have really gotten to see what a tremendous person Valerie is.
One of the benefits of moving back to Greenville is that my sister and her husband lived here. We had instant friends. Then when she got pregnant, I got to be a really active uncle. Until, you know, Covid-19 made it impossible to see other human beings.
But getting to be an uncle is nothing compared to the gift of seeing your sister be a parent. It really has a way of bringing life full circle.
And when the chips are down—Valerie is there.
Our dog Andy got sick when I was away in Iowa. He wasn’t feeling well before I left, but when I was away things came back, and this time they were way less ambivalent.
Then when the show ended, I went straight to the hospital. Since this was the beginning of the lock down, the only way for Jaimie to be with me was for her to not leave my room. I’m not kidding. Since she came in before the “no visitor” rule had started, it was ok for her to be there. If she left, however, she would not be allowed to return. That meant Jaimie had to choose between being with me, who was in no position to be left alone, or to be with her dog, her best friend of fourteen years, during his final weeks on earth.
We all knew there was only one choice.
Be with the dog.
I’m kidding, obviously.
But just because she had to stay with me didn’t mean it was easy. The only thing that made it bearable was the fact that my father and my mother and Valerie would be taking care of Andy while we were away.
Her generosity didn’t end there. When we got home, Valerie and her husband made sure that our fridge was stocked and our pantry was packed. Then when the time came for Andy to leave us, I couldn’t go because of radiation. Valerie took time off from time work, time from PTO or whatever it’s called, and was with Jaimie when it happened. And paid for it. And I’m not saying that the reason she did all those things is because she had recently become a mom. I’m just saying that I’m glad people like her have kids. Makes me hopeful that the world is going be ok.
On March 20 of this year, I got a new mom. Or a new Mother-in-Law. Laura Malphrus, the woman who bore Jaimie. And Jaimie’s twin before she ate it.
I write a lot about how incredible Jaimie is, and that’s because, well, she is. But she is also a handful. Smart, beautiful, and rebellious are three things I find really sexy in a woman, but would give me panic attacks to have in a daughter. How Laura managed to raise Jaimie and not develop a major drinking problem is a profile in courage. Her father was in the military, so that helped. Jaimie spent the first twelve years of her life on military bases so I’m sure that made the job slightly easier.
But they moved back to the states when Jaimie was twelve. Since she was super smart, they decided that she should skip 6th grade. Which meant that Jaimie started high school in Richmond Hill, a town thirty minutes south of Savannah, at twelve years old.
Go ahead, read that sentence again.
Again, it helps having a father who was special ops in the Army, works security on an Air Force Base, and in his spare time likes to make knives, but still!
So hats off to Laura Malphrus for raising Jaimie and not going insane. Well, not going completely insane. I love the kind of crazy you are now.