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Ah, what a difference a year makes. Last Mother’s Day was not so good. I mean, the weather was nice enough that we were able to go on our annual picnic and hike. But the cloud that hung over my heart at that moment, the horrible certainty I carried in me that this would be my last Mother’s Day with two children, could not be lifted.

Yesterday, on the other hand, was cold and rainy and we didn’t really do much (although staying in your pajamas until 1pm is pretty special), but it just doesn’t matter. I don’t need intricately planned outings or lavishly wrapped gifts to celebrate being a mother. A pile of school-made cards and two sweet boys snuggled up beside me as we wiled away the morning reading Harry Potter in bed is more than enough. (And bacon and eggs — thanks, Mark.)

But the icing on the Mother’s Day cake (oooh, now that’s a good idea . . . Mother’s Day cake) came Friday afternoon with our visit to Austin’s oncologist. Confirming all that I’d reported two weeks ago, his chest x-ray was clear and his kidney numbers hold steady. So, we can now say without hedging that Austin is truly and officially three years cancer-free, 60% of the way to the other, much more pleasant C-word.

Since his new doctor is still learning his case, she showed me an email she had requested from a member of Austin’s team at Rainbow, providing a broad overview of his five-and-a-half years of care. Much of it was formal and technical but I scanned quickly, with Austin quietly Minecraft-ing beside me, searching for any hint of editorializing. Maybe a little clue of his future or a confirmation of what we’d believed was, well, a pretty big deal. And it was there: “Austin has had an impressive and complicated course of treatment since his initial diagnosis in July 2007.” Impressive and complicated, indeed.

Today, we just use the word “impressive.”

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Most of you have seen this one before, but it’s worth repeating:  Here on Melinda Roberts’ “The Mommy Blog” and here on the St. Baldrick’s “Head”lines page.

Happy Mother’s Day to the world’s most powerful women.

Early in Austin’s cancer journey, when I first requested wishes to transcribe onto the stars dangling from his hospital room ceiling, several people mentioned “homemade cards” in their wishes. As in, “I wish you live long enough to make plenty of homemade cards for your mom and dad.” At that point in my parenting career, with Braedan only three-and-a-half, I hadn’t yet gotten many homemade cards, or at least not many that were more than scribbles and smudges.

But now that I’m seven and a half years into motherhood, I can attest to the special joy of the homemade card. The “Look, Mom, I wrote that myself!” Or “I drew all four of us” with a headfooter father, mother, and two children, all legs and heads but no bodies.

It is the same joy that can be found in a smooshed handful of dandelions, given with pride and love. The gifts that in and of themselves mean nothing, but mean everything because of who they come from.

May all mothers know that joy. And may all children, those grown and not grown, continue to spread it.

Today’s Mother’s Day hike

I am one lucky mama.

A repost of last year’s Mother’s Day blog, just because I really love it:

Here is the latest video from Kelly Corrigan: the thank you note that moms really want and really deserve from their children on Mother’s Day.  Of course, few of us will ever hear such words pass our kids’ lips (or at least not until they have children of their own!), but we can at least hope that somewhere deep inside their beings they feel them. It’s not that we want them to owe us anything — not even thanks (although that would be nice) — but just that we all, as mothers, want our kids to be aware of how hard we try and how deeply we care and how much we love.

I’ve added a few of my own:

Thank you, mom, for taking care of me day and night. For holding me and rocking me back to sleep at 3 o’clock in the morning when I’m woken by some stranger taking my blood pressure. Thank you for remembering all my medications and making sure I get just the right dose at just the right time of day, and for turning it into a game or a race so it somehow feels fun, like when you take a Tums right along with me before I eat my cheesy meals so we can have a “Tums race” or be “Tums buddies.” Thank you, mom, for always (or at least, often) packing the right lunch and snacks and books and toys to keep me busy through hour after hour and day after day in the hospital.  Thank you for never failing to flush my PICC line even when it’s midnight and you’ve just drifted off to sleep in your warm cozy bed. And speaking of that bed, thank you for scooting over so I can squeeze in between you and dad when I feel scared in the night. Thank you for treating me like a regular kid and letting me climb the rock wall and fall down and get hurt even when my platelets are low and my legs are already covered with purple welts.

Thank you, mom, for not forgetting about me, your healthy son. Thank you for making sure I always have fun playdates and for giving me veto power over whose house I go to, no matter how desperate you are. Thank you for emailing my teacher at the last minute so I’m not too surprised by who’s picking me up on unexpectedly long hospital days. Thank you, mom, for waking up early to bake homemade bread for the Teacher Appreciation Brunch. And for running back home to get my library book on library day so I can check out a new one. Thank you for arranging for friends to take me swimming all summer even though Austin can’t get wet. And for sneaking yogurts into my lunchbox so I can eat them away from the watchful and (understandably) jealous eyes of my brother.  Oh, and speaking of jealous, thank you for listening with respect and not getting mad when I say I’m jealous of him, even if it makes your blood boil a little. Thank you, mom, for making sure I know that I’m remembered and heard and loved.

And thank you to my mom for always managing to fit in a several-hour visit to the hospital every single day we’re there, no matter how busy you are. Thank you for shooing me away and sending me home even if Austin is screaming in your arms as I leave. Thank you for reassuring me that it will be okay and for always telling me how okay it was when I get back. And thank you for valuing my daily workout as much as I do and making sure I have time to go for a run. Thank you for loving every second you spend with him in your arms and for making it seem like I’m giving you a gift when you’re really doing me a favor.

Thank you, mom, for taking care of me when I’m sick.

And thank you, mom, for taking care of me when my brother is sick.

And thank you, my mom, for taking care of me when my son is sick.

Here is the latest video from Kelly Corrigan: the thank you note that moms really want and really deserve from their children on Mother’s Day.  Of course, few of us will ever hear such words pass our kids’ lips (or at least not until they have children of their own!), but we can at least hope that somewhere deep inside their beings they feel them. It’s not that we want them to owe us anything — not even thanks (although that would be nice) — but just that we all, as mothers, want our kids to be aware of how hard we try and how deeply we care and how much we love.

I’ve added a few of my own:

Thank you, mom, for taking care of me day and night. For holding me and rocking me back to sleep at 3 o’clock in the morning when I’m woken by some stranger taking my blood pressure. Thank you for remembering all my medications and making sure I get just the right dose at just the right time of day, and for turning it into a game or a race so it somehow feels fun, like when you take a Tums right along with me before I eat my cheesy meals so we can have a “Tums race” or be “Tums buddies.” Thank you, mom, for always (or at least, often) packing the right lunch and snacks and books and toys to keep me busy through hour after hour and day after day in the hospital.  Thank you for never failing to flush my PICC line even when it’s midnight and you’ve just drifted off to sleep in your warm cozy bed. And speaking of that bed, thank you for scooting over so I can squeeze in between you and dad when I feel scared in the night. Thank you for treating me like a regular kid and letting me climb the rock wall and fall down and get hurt even when my platelets are low and my legs are already covered with purple welts.

Thank you, mom, for not forgetting about me, your healthy son. Thank you for making sure I always have fun playdates and for giving me veto power over whose house I go to, no matter how desperate you are. Thank you for emailing my teacher at the last minute so I’m not too surprised by who’s picking me up on unexpectedly long hospital days. Thank you, mom, for waking up early to bake homemade bread for the Teacher Appreciation Brunch. And for running back home to get my library book on library day so I can check out a new one. Thank you for arranging for friends to take me swimming all summer even though Austin can’t get wet. And for sneaking yogurts into my lunchbox so I can eat them away from the watchful and (understandably) jealous eyes of my brother.  Oh, and speaking of jealous, thank you for listening with respect and not getting mad when I say I’m jealous of him, even if it makes your blood boil a little. Thank you, mom, for making sure I know that I’m remembered and heard and loved.

And thank you to my mom for always managing to fit in a several-hour visit to the hospital every single day we’re there, no matter how busy you are. Thank you for shooing me away and sending me home even if Austin is screaming in your arms as I leave. Thank you for reassuring me that it will be okay and for always telling me how okay it was when I get back. And thank you for valuing my daily workout as much as I do and making sure I have time to go for a run. Thank you for loving every second you spend with him in your arms and for making it seem like I’m giving you a gift when you’re really doing me a favor.

Thank you, mom, for taking care of me when I’m sick.

And thank you, mom, for taking care of me when my brother is sick.

And thank you, my mom, for taking care of me when my son is sick.

My mom is so herself. I mean, what you see is what you get with this woman. There are no false pretenses, nothing subtle or hidden–she is who she is. Everything she says, does, wears screams Nancy.

Being celebrated at her 60th birthday

Being feted at her 60th birthday

She’s honest, to a fault even. She absolutely believes that the truth is the best policy, under all circumstances. (So don’t ask her if that outfit makes you look fat unless you are indeed prepared to hear the answer.) I’m a pretty honest person myself, about the big things, but I am not above telling my kids we can’t go to the park that’s conveniently located right around the corner from our house because it’s closed. . . for naptime. Now my mom would see this as a teachable moment: kids need to learn to handle disappointment, not be spared the truth even when it’s easier, blah blah blah. And then she would gently reflect their feelings back to them: I can see that you’re feeling very disappointed. It’s hard not to get what we want, isn’t it?

She’s also supersmart (and always beats me and my brother in the adult spelling bee), but she’s patient and anything but arrogant. She pays attention to everything and manages to keep up on the important details of so many lives. She’s a sharp reader and a great writer and one of the few people I’ve allowed to go all out with my entire manuscript. She made countless corrections and suggestions and then, on the very last page, in typical supportive-mom fashion, wrote,”You’re an author, Krissy! I LOVED it!!!!!”

We make fun of her in my family. She’s sort of the easy target, because she does things like lose all her documents on her computer . . . “without touching anything on the keyboard, I swear!” And when she takes pictures, instead of just pushing down the single button, she pushes down the entire camera, inevitably cutting off everyone’s foreheads. So we tease her and sometimes get impatient or roll our eyes, “Mah-ahm,” but we love her and admire her and we’re all proud to say we belong to her.

She’s very well-known in our town, has been a member of City Council for almost twelve years.  She’s braver than she looks on the outside too. My brothers and I actually thought she had thin skin because she wants people to like her, but she’s tough. She led the fight in our community to give benefits to the same-sex partners of city employees. It was quite a battle too. I’ll never forget those City Council meetings with people angrily thumping their Bibles and shouting, “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!” (You have to admit, even if you totally disagree with the sentiment, that that’s a pretty funny line.) But she knew what was right and good and she stood tall and fought hard.

mother and daughter

mother and daughter

We look alike, me and my mom. Except she let her hair go gray in her late twenties and I color mine with great regularity. And we sound alike and mimic each other’s gestures. People who newly meet me often give me a funny look, an I-feel-like-I-already-know-you look and then halfway through our conversation, they’ll interrupt and exclaim, “Oh! You’re Nancy Dietrich’s daughter, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I am,” I reply.

And I feel proud.

Happy Mother’s Day, mom.

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July 2018
M T W T F S S
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