After being out of town for more or less two weeks, I had big plans for Monday. I was going to get back to writing. I managed to bang out fifty pages of the new book while I was holed up at Nags Head, N.C. the week before, so why couldn’t I just manage a page or two once I was home? Sunday night, I set up my laptop beside my bed. The plan was to replicate my Nags Head experience. Go to bed with the book in my head, wake up with the book in my head. Lean over, grab the laptop and start writing. Simple, yes? But there’s this saying; “Man plans, God laughs.”
That night, around midnight, the phone rang. My heart stopped. Midnight phone calls are rarely good news, and this one was no exception. It was our son-in-law, Mark, telling us that he was taking our daughter Katie to the emergency room. They’d had dinner at our house a few hours earlier, and before leaving, she was complaining of stomach pains that she’d been having off and on for the past two days. We joked about the possibility that she was pregnant — NOT! — because our Molly is only three months old. Could they drop the baby off at our house? Of course.
Molly was delivered to our doorstep, sound asleep, wrapped burrito-style in her pink Sleepopatomus thingy. We popped her into her crib here, and I waited, anxiously, for news from Mark. He called sometime after 1 a.m. to report that the doctors thought Katie had a bad case of food poisoning. We drifted off to sleep, and Molly, the angel, slept until 7 a.m. A couple hours later, Mark dropped Katie off so that I could tend her and Molly, and he dragged his very tired butt off to work.
So….no writing got done on Monday. Molly seemed to sense that her mama was sick, so she wasn’t cranky, but she definitely wanted to be held and cuddled. And that’s what we did. I fed her, burped her, changed her and held her. In between, I fetched Katie’s meds and ginger ale. We lounged around the house and watched HGTV. The bed never got made, the laundry never got started, dinner became leftovers. I tried to remember how I managed to work as a freelance newspaper reporter when Katie was that age, and my own mother lived five hours away.
I recalled attending a press conference with Katie in her infant carrier the same week I brought her home from the hospital. I remembered packing a breast pump in my purse when I was on out-of-town assignment, and sitting in gas station restrooms expressing milk to be stowed in a cooler in the trunk of my car. I remember juggling her on my lap as I typed away on my second-hand electric typewriter — this was WAAAYYY before the days of laptop computers or the Internet. I’d call the newspaper office in Atlanta and dictate my stories to a typist, hopefully while Katie was napping.
And if I happened to mention to my mother that I was over-worked and exhausted, she’d helpfully remind me that she’d had five babies in six years, starting when she was 19, and, oh yes, this was in the 1950s, and that she’d managed this feat without disposable diapers, a car of her own, and most of the time, without a clothes dryer. And during a lot of that time, she was working too, as a waitress, manicurist, or secretary.
When I fell into bed Monday night, exhausted, and Molly was still fussing, I thought about my mom, and how often these days, I wish she were here to see my granddaughter. I thought about how glad I am that Katie and Mark and Molly live only a mile away, and that when those midnight phone calls come, I can take delivery of a drowsy pink burrito baby. And suddenly those lost hours, cuddling a baby, don’t seem so lost after all.
Top photo: Molly, at about six weeks, in my office
Bottom photo: Mom and her brood, that’s me in the middle back