Sunday, January 13, 2008

Mommy dates

With three kids, I make a point every now and then to carve out special “mommy-only” time separately with each child, like a little emotional litmus test to see how everyone’s doing. It helps them be heard over the din of noise through family dinners homework and rushing here and there driving to after-school activities.

Sunday I took all three on separate “dates” for an hour or so at their designated special place.

Five year old Melanie’s favorite place is a diner in Syosset, Long Island where, like the show Cheers…everyone knows her name. Melanie carried her beloved dingy white blanket lovingly in her arms, climbed up on the stool and ordered her usual: a tiny dish of pickles, side of bacon, toasted bagel with butter. I wondered if I should be worrying already about her arteries. But we ate the fattening food and talked to the Greek man who cooked everything in front of us a la Benihana. There is no kitchen in back. The grill is right behind the counter. “I don’t want to be a lawyer,” she informed him after he suggested that profession because she is so talkative and smart. “I’m going to be a mail carrier,” she smiled saying c.a..rrier melodically long for emphasis.

A mail carrier? I learn so much about my kids on these mommy dates.

Next up was Kelly, now 8 since her December birthday. We ventured to her favorite place the Gourmet Goddess in Cold Spring Harbor Long Island. This place is a girl fantasy with lacey curtains dressing the windows and distressed ladder-back chairs with green vines and purple flowers hand painted on them. The store is chock full of candy, teddy bears, all kinds of trinkets, ceramic dishes, tea tins and kitchen rooster towels and cooking accoutrements; toys for girls both big and small. We sat on the flowered chairs, drinking tea and hot chocolate and I was taken aback when she asked me what it’s like to be a mother? and do I like it?

Hmm. This coming on the heels of a conversation I’d had with my husband over the holidays about not wanting to take an office job yet and to continue freelancing as a writer and budding musician. Kelly clearly heard us and was wondering already what kind of woman she might one day be.

“I wouldn’t put my children in daycare,” she said decidedly, waiting for my approval.

I leaned over, looking into her big blue eyes and said, “Kelly there is no right or wrong way to be a mother, sweetie. When you get there, if you get there, you will do what’s in your heart and it will be the right thing for you. There are many ways to be a mother, you know.”

The questions are getting tougher and the answer was: Yes, I love being a mother.

Thank God Robert, my 9-½ year old son, just wanted to go to Oyster Bay Long Island and climb the rocks. But it was too cold. So instead we got Italian Ices at the Bonanza Stand that has been there over a hundred years. We drove to the bay and sat in the car licking chocolate chip cookie dough ices from our spoons and stared at the unbelievably low tide. We talked about the video game Guitar Hero and he asked if I knew who Axl Rose from Guns ‘N Roses is. The answer was the same. Yes.

Life is good!



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