I am the younger of two children, both girls, in my family—which means—I have a big sister! Naturally, she proceeded me in just about everything. The fact that she became a Mom before me was in keeping with our pattern and in the correct sequence of our shared lives. When my first child was born, she arrived with a wonderful six-year-old cousin, a girl, in place—good job sis!
The second Spring after my daughter was born she had reached the age that she would be able to participate in her first Easter Egg Hunt. My sister and I live miles apart and have for many years—so our family interactions are often shared through stories and conversations on the telephone. As I was approaching my first Easter-Egg-Hunt-Worthy-Easter as a new Mom, my sister announced that she would be supplying the Easter Basket for my daughter. It was sort of like “calling shotgun” for the front seat of the car—it seems the older sibling always has a leg-up on the younger sibling. As I hadn’t given the basket any thought—I graciously acquiesced to her request (statement.)
My sister, the self-proclaimed non-creative one in the family, had beat me to the symbolic Easter Basket front seat. As she explained to me there was more to this important self-assigned task—there was a lesson involved. In a big-sister to little sister voice, I was informed that a permanent basket needed to be obtained, one made preferably out of fabric—one that would last—for years. A lasting basket.
In reflecting back, I now realize she was describing a Christmas Stocking version of an Easter Basket. This was a bit of a surprise to me—I didn’t even know that fabric baskets existed, additionally as this had not been one of our family traditions growing up—where did she come up with this idea? I left that detail as a mystery—as it certainly seemed like a worthy endeavor—especially for my little one!
The Pink Bunny basket arrived prior to Easter and I dutifully began the instructions of “how to” hunt for Easter Eggs. We had a wonderfully adorable time! The kind of joyful and precious time that seems to almost magically happen when the ingredients are Children, Baskets, Springtime and Bunnies!
That first Easter Egg hunt was twenty-five years ago—my son was born two years later and perfectly on cue my sister called dibs on providing his Easter Basket—a Yellow Ducky! She had now furthered her tradition by assigning this important responsibility exclusively to the Aunt of these children.
For the last twenty-five and twenty-three years the Pink Bunny and Yellow Ducky Easter Baskets have been filled with goodies then emptied and subsequently used for the hunt! Clearly, my sister had done an excellent job in selecting lasting baskets.
Time moves along—and before I knew it the magic of placing late-night hopping-bunny tracks made with flour on the kitchen floor and morning Easter Egg Hunts had lost their wonder. However, the Easter Baskets were filled and left waiting on the foot of a bed or on a kitchen table.
Through the years the contents of the baskets evolved—Jelly Beans gave way to Chocolate Bunnies for her and Chocolate Bunnies were replaced with Peeps for him—as they developed their own individual gourmet Easter tastes.
The Pink Bunny and Yellow Ducky baskets have been filled, boxed and shipped to college, hidden in suitcases as they journeyed to Spring Break (woo-hoo!) and they have been sent to Barcelona (Pink Bunny) and Florence (Yellow Ducky) for semesters abroad.
Hanky-Panky undies have been stuffed into plastic eggs for her and Under Armour running socks have been rolled up, wrapped with orange tissue paper and tied with green ric-rack ribbons to imitate carrots for him. We’ve had years in which candy was replaced with a much more coveted Starbucks card—appropriately wrapped in Jelly Bean printed cellophane paper.
During my daughter’s sophomore year in college I was (kindly) advised that sending the Pink Bunny was no longer necessary, in fact, it was preferred that it not be sent. I respectfully obliged, as I wanted to allow for independent choices and decisions. My quiet disappointment was quelled with several Chocolate Bunnies of my own!
The following year, in keeping with the theme of “I’m too old for that” I sent only the Yellow Ducky to college. I received a charmingly disappointed telephone call from my daughter questioning why she had not received her Pink Bunny Basket. I (kindly) reminded her of the previous year’s request, to which she responded,
“Oh that? I was much younger then! I didn’t get it—I was being ridiculous. You can always send me my basket.”
During her senior year and his sophomore year the Pink Bunny and the Yellow Ducky were shipped off to college—and with loving care they were returned to me at the end of the school year. All was well in bunny-dom.
Twenty-five Easters have come and gone and the wisdom of my sister still resonates in my heart.
The original Pink Bunny and Yellow Ducky are still here, ready and waiting to be filled. This year, I am sending this virtual version of the Pink Bunny with all of my heartfelt love to my daughter as she is off on an amazing adventure! The thought to hide it in her back-pack six months ago when she headed for the mountains of Peru was missed by me—the Yellow Ducky will be heading to the West Coast as my son begins his exciting and promising career!
As a post-mommy, I can only encourage you—if you are a current-mommy or daddy, to embrace these days with all of the love, earnestness and joy you can muster. (I understand you are tired.) The precious and adorable days of Easter Egg Hunts do come to an appropriate end and left in their place are the most treasured and delightful memories. And, if you wish to follow my big sister’s advice, you will have a lasting basket in which to store those memories!
My children are grown. The days of milk-carton-post-office-boxes and little children returning home with handmade-heart-shaped-envelopes filled with Valentines, which had been reciprocally exchanged with school-mates is, for me, a Valentine’s Day of the past. Although most may consider Valentine’s Day an adult event—there is nothing more loving or amazingly adorable than little children celebrating love on Valentine’s Day!
Little hands practice dexterity as they carefully paint elbow-macaroni and with all of their heartfelt earnestness make a courageous effort to string each noodle onto yarn—creating a necklace. Eye and hand coordination is improved as they attempt to position buttons just where their little hearts desire on hand-made Valentines. As a Post-Mommy, I felt a heart-tug to connect with all of the Current Day Mommies, envy was only my first thought—it soon abated as I was washed with the joyful memories of my very own Valentine’s Days with my children.
Recalling that I added food coloring to everything I could think of; we celebrated with pink cream cheese on bagels, pink pancakes shaped into hearts and pink mashed potatoes—I realize I live in fear of an FDA announcement that my magic-food-coloring will be discovered as a cause of some horrific health issue…I’m just sayin’…we even ate green eggs and ham!
Long before glitter became a key ingredient in the cosmetic industry Mommies could be seen wearing glimmering specks upon their smiling faces (in their hair, on their clothes…for days.) It seemed glitter, on or around Valentine’s Day, traveled in the wind, on the wings of little-cupid-angel-children—and, it flew home—to Mommy.
Note to Current Day Mommies;
Once your children are grown and as you (silently) observe, as they venture out into the world—to—yes, love someone else…(remember that’s the goal) please know, you were their very first Valentine. The love between a parent and a child can be beautifully witnessed on a holiday like Valentine’s Day. That love, followed to fruition, is the seedling for your children to become adults, who love beautifully and who can be loved.
Mommy is the first Valentine…
Happy Valentine’s Day!
We all have dreams. Hopes, wishes and—if we are tremendously honest and—we have removed every ounce of our political correctness—we have…expectations. The P.C. I am referring to has nothing to do with politics, ethnicity or religion. This area of political correctness is far more powerful and has the opportunity to be even more damaging. This version of political correctness I refer to as “Mommy P.C.” The unspoken, unsaid wishes of Mom’s everywhere, which by the way, are as varied as the wonderful children on the planet.
Here’s an example of a “Mommy-P.C.” I struggle with. (Please note; the “Mommy-P.C.” changes, dependent on the age of your children and is never stationary nor to be considered true for all time! Whew!)
EXAMPLE A: “When you have children, if that is what you choose to do, I hope you will invite me to participate.”
Do you see the disclaimer? The empowerment granted to the child and—the angst of emotions I am feeling as I try desperately not to place my beliefs and my personal decisions onto my child?
What I mean to say is, “When you have children, as many as you can afford, (Ha-Ha I like that part!) I hope to be very important in their lives.” I have dreams! Gigi dreams! (Gigi is the self-selected Grandmother name I have adopted, albeit pre-Grandchildren.)
Back to the story of the stairs and dreams. One day as I was basking in the warmth and beauty of The Cottage at Rooster Ridge the peacefulness swept over me, as it always does. It is in this little cottage that I write, paint, create and ponder. The downstairs of the cottage, at this time, serves to room our guests, while the upstairs provides a sanctuary for me to be an artist—which I am so very grateful for.
As I was sitting one day I gazed upon the tiny wooden stairway that leads up to my studio, I found myself projecting forward in time as a daydream gently unfolded before me. I saw little children climbing up the stairs. My daydream sent me to a future point in time when the upstairs could no longer be relegated to just me, but also to little (visiting) children…grandchildren…my grandchildren! Opps! I said it!
As I traveled on the clouds of my charming little dream I envisioned one-piece jammies with rubberized feet, soft baby hair and giggles. Simultaneously, as I traveled forward in my daydream an aspect of my mind transcended backward in time to the past—where memories which held the scents and sounds of young children filling a home would always live.
It was during that daydream that the inspiration came to me to paint words on the stairs to be read as children went upstairs to have sweet dreams of their own. (Not to mention the perfect photo opportunity of the children sitting on the stairs next to the word of their choice.)
The staircase is wonderful in the cottage, the wood has aged and resonates with a character and history of richness that only time can bring. It’s memories are etched and dug into the knots and nail holes which we refuse to erase.
With stencils in hand, I began, completely forgetting every ounce of “Mommy-P.C.” I have learned through the years. As I painted the words; now—I—lay—me—down—to—sleep.
I just did it—I put my dream out there for all to see. I choose not to attach any expectations, but rather, I shall just relish in the joy it brings to know that I still have dreams, even…Post-Mommy!