Friday, December 3, 2010

Nostalgia, in Advance

No, this really isn't a blast toward the past, but a look at the future.

For much of the past week, seven-year old Merrick has been the sole child at home after school. HWCBN has had debate tournaments and other activities; the Diva has rehearsal and performances.

Every day, Merrick asks where his big brother and sister are --and when they'll be home. He does his homework, practices the violin and then pretty much creates mayhem, mostly with the sixty-five (he grew) blood hound puppy.

Merrick: "But I'm all alone hewe!"

The Matron is fully aware that when Merrick is 13, he'll be alone. Scarlett and Stryker -- if the college path plan works out (and believe her, it will) -- will be gone. Merrick will spend the last five years of his life in his parents' house alone with the elderly, pining for visits from the much older siblings.

And today, watching him sit forlornly on the couch, wondering where the big kids are, the Matron saw his future -- and hers.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The End of an Era

Today, the Matron will be attending the funeral of her husband's grandmother.

Yes, that's right: a 48 year old man's grandmother.

Now, the Matron is a matron, signifying a certain age. Grandma Helen? She lived a complete century--100 years.

Years ago, when the Matron and her husband were still lush, Grandma Helen gave the Matron --then a Youngish Miss -- a book she had written in a class for creative writing for senior citizens. The manuscript recounted many horrors, but the one that struck the Matron was the birth of Grandma Helen's first (of 9) children.

Instead of being in anyway assisted during childbirth, the young Helen was tied to the bed by the doctor and doused with ether. The doctor wanted to speed the whole thing up so he could go have a drink (or seven) with the new father. In fact, tying up the laboring mother and silencing her with ether meant the men could start celebrating right there in the next room.

And once the baby arrived, they left within minutes, leaving the new mama -- just 18 years old -- alone with a new baby.

The Matron now flashes back to her own experiences with childbirth. With the first two, she instantly slept with the babies, tended to them, coddled and cooed (even while exhausted). John gave Stryker an warm sesame oil rub; he did the same for Scarlett. He slept on a cot by the Matron's side, happy to be with the babies and the mama.


Shortly after Merrick arrived on the planet, the OB/GYN nurse asked if the Matron would like her new baby in the room with her, or in the nursery.

Matron: "Nursery. And may I please have a sleeping pill?"

And she slept.

This was, actually, a rather singular event. The Matron can't remember many instances in which she put her own interests and needs above her children. But she knew that with a six and four year old at home --and an infant -- that eight hours of sleep would swing her towards sanity.

Friends, there was nothing sweeter than that sleep.

But Grandma Helen had no such options. Instead, she raised 9 children pretty much on her own -- had babies and immediately rose to tend to the three or eight others already there. She saw her 9 children and around 40 grandchildren grow into a list of great-grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren to create a legacy of people tallying up to over 130. Let's just say John's side of the family is not attuned to population control.

She did all of the cooking, cleaning, laundry and child care. If someone needed to talk to a child's teacher, it was her. She kept up with all family obligations, sending the cards and letters. If the furnace needed fixing, she did it herself or called the right person. Child throwing up at night? Guess who is there. She sewed, mended, baked, and otherwise tended. Her husband pretty much went to his job every day and then came home to chill.

Good-bye, Helen. No grandma, no mother. Just a nod to the girl and woman, the spirit inside that needs no definition.

Monday, November 29, 2010

(Pretty) Free at Last

It turns out that the Matron is not cut out for home schooling, especially when 'home schooling' mostly means driving a child somewhere three to seventeen thousand times a day. If she didn't also have a full-time tenure track job, things might be different (so don't condemn her; she gave it a shot).

At least Scarlett read Jane Eyre at 12. This was the Matron's assignment and might sustain her until her dying day.

But today, after one of her recent three shows ended, Scarlett was enrolled in a new school -- an all girl's school (free, a public charter school) that seems like a little bit of heaven to the Matron. Uniforms! Binders! Girls holding hands! Is this England? Nirvana!

But Scarlett? Not so sure.

Scarlett: "MOM! Why do I have to go to school? Can't we hire someone to bring me to New York or L.A. so I can just WORK?"

Matron: "You're 12. That's sort of the end of the conversation."

Scarlett: "Sort of the end of the conversation? What does THAT mean?"

Matron: "A diplomatic way of ending the conversation. Nobody's going to New York or L.A."

Scarlett: "But I'm a working ACTOR. Time is running out!"

Now, the Matron did not ask Scarlett to elaborate on the press of time. But, as the mama to the diva, she's well aware that appearance plays a large part in the path that her daughter has chosen. Not that all actors need to be beautiful, but a young teen? It can't hurt to swing one way or the other and not be in the middle.

Of course, the Matron thinks her daughter, beautiful from the get go. But she's well aware that hers is a biased and completely unreasoned perspective.

Scarlett, as you launch into the next phase -- soon to turn 13 with all that comes with learning to be an adult and saying good-bye to childhood -- this is for you.

And for all of us.