As the second of five kids, my Mom was pregnant for the better part of my younger years. She was Supermom and loved being pregnant! Mom was always happy, always smiling, always healthy, and always had more than enough energy for our growing gaggle of kids, as well as half the neighborhood, who were always at our house.
One unbearably hot August afternoon, my friends and I were sitting on the swing set in our back yard but were too hot to actually do the legwork to "swing". I was praying for a breeze but all I got was a hot, humid, Ohio afternoon filled with mosquitoes and gnats. None of us had any energy to run around or play in the yard that day.
We had a small cement back porch off our kitchen. I could see my mother preparing spaghetti for dinner that night through the window and wondered why she as making something that required the kitchen to heat up. It must have been pretty hot in our house, which did not have air conditioning, because while this thought crossed my mind, Mom came outside.
She stood on the porch looking up to the sky. I think Mom was praying for a breeze too, or maybe rain, to cool things off. She was wearing her usual maternity "uniform" a big, sleeveless "tent" dress-- This one in deep orange with tiny yellow flowers. I remember that dress because it made her tan look so nice.
Poor Mom was hot. Really hot. She was 8 months pregnant and huge-- all baby, all belly, and really big-- kind of like I remember her always being when I was a kid. Her face was pale and surprisingly tired. Mom usually never looked tired even when hugely pregnant in the summertime.
After a long hot minute, Mom reached down to the garden hose rolled up at the bottom of the steps. She turned it on and for a moment I thought she was going to give us kids a spray to cool off. We loved to run through the hose on a hot day.
Not this time. Instead, Mom simply took the hose, water on full blast, slid it down the front of her maternity dress, hooked it into her bra, and let the water wash over her. She put her hands on her hips, with her face still slightly raised to the sky, her eyes closed, and just stood there until she was totally and completely soaked. We watched in speechless amazement as the water ran down the front of her, off the porch steps, and onto the lawn. When the color finally came back into her face, a content smile crossed her lips.
Then, without saying a word, Mom reached down, turned off the water, and wound the hose back into place. Before she stood up, she gathered the hem of her dress and rung it out, then she kicked off her Keds sneakers and walked back in the house.
My memories are vivid and that's exactly the way it happened. It was the first time I thought I wasn't sturdy enough for motherhood. I could never be that big, never be that hot, and would never have a garden hose down my dress to cool off. Ever.
I ultimately chose not to have children for other very valid reasons, but I never forgot that day. Maybe it was my first "light bulb moment".
Since then I have marveled at my mother's energy and limitless capacity to love her children and grandchildren. Mom is young enough for great grandchildren as well and looks forward to loving them too. She says she always knew she wanted a big family and with five kids she got it-- although I suspect she'd have been thrilled with a few more.
Mom has heard me tell the "garden hose down the maternity dress" story countless times but swears she has no memory of it. And I'm sure she doesn't. It's just the kind of thing Mom would say was "all in a day's work". And with a house full of kids, she worked a lot, so it's no wonder she doesn't remember that August day.
It was awful hot today in Los Angeles. My godson asked if he could play with the garden hose-- which reminded me of this story. But since LA just started water rationing, I made a bunch of water balloons instead. We had a blast tossing them at each other until we were soaked and cooled off-- All in a day's work.
How do you cool off?
Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna