From the Mommy Files…

Archive for July 2012

Many of you know that I experienced a molar pregnancy in September 2010.

It was with great anticipation that I looked forward to the birth of my 3rd child, only to have my world decimated by the revelation of the molar pregnancy, and of course its aftermath, wrought with complications.

And then there was chemo.

As I struggled to deal with it all, I proclaimed that I was now the mother of 2 daughters and 1 angel baby.

Since the day of that earth-shattering diagnosis, I have prayed for that little angel baby.

He’s visited me in dreams.

Ok, you’re saying, “Stop the truck! HE?”

He’s come to me several times in dreams and pronounced that he was a boy.

So I finally got my boy, but he’s an angel in Heaven.

Many times I have contemplated how and when I would tell the girls about their baby brother.

There was never an “if”. I would share it with them someday, somehow.

That day came much sooner than I expected.

A few months ago, the girls were arguing about who was the big sister.

Bebs was not satisfied to be just the “little sister.”

I tried to explain to her that I was a little sister, too.

“But you’re a big sister too!” she retorted, with all her 3 year-old wisdom.

I am.

And she kept repeating, “But I am a big sister! I am a big sister! Mom, will you tell her?”

I paused for a moment to ponder what she meant by that. How could she possibly know?

I recall talking to her about the baby when I first found out I was pregnant.

She was 18 months old. I figured she wouldn’t tell anyone.

I never told Boo. For some reason I thought she’d run to school and tell everyone.

This was strange, because I hadn’t kept any of my pregnancies a secret.

 Foreboding?

A subconscious safety mechanism for what was to come?

Who knows?

Then I wondered, could Bebs actually remember that, on some level?

I thought the best thing to do was to go with it. After all, she really was a big sister.

I sat the girls down.

Mommy: Yes, Bebs is a Big Sister.

Boo: And who is this other person?

Mommy: It’s an angel baby. He lives in Heaven with Jesus.

Funny, there were no other questions.

Good thing, cause I wasn’t sure where to go from there.

From time to time, the girls mention their little brother—but only as Bebs refers to him—as the BABY ANGEL.

Last night, after one of Bebs’ monster tantrums (it’s tough to be 3, after all!), she started talking about the baby angel.

Bebs: I’m sorry, Mommy. The Baby Angel said I am a good girl, and I should be one.

Mommy: Did you talk to the Baby Angel?

Bebs: Oh yes, Mommy!

Mommy: What did he say?

Bebs: He said not to have tantrums. That I’m a sweet girl.

Mommy: Yes, you are a sweet girl. Can we see more of this sweet girl?

Bebs: OK.

Mommy: Do you see the Baby Angel a lot?

Bebs: Yes, Mommy.

Mommy: Does he look like you?

Bebs: No.

Mommy: Does he look like Boo?

Bebs: No.

Mommy: Does he look like me or Daddy?

Bebs: I’m not supposed to tell you.

Mommy: Why not? I’d really like to know. (I’m curious, after all!)

She paused for a moment.

Bebs: Well, he looks like Jesus!

Mommy: Really? Does he have dark hair?

Bebs: Mommy! OK, well, he has white hair…

Mommy: Really?

Bebs: I can’t tell you that. It’s a secret.

Mommy: What else does the Baby Angel tell you?

Bebs: It’s a secret between a Big Sister and her Baby Angel.

Wow. I guess she’s right. I’m really not supposed to know.

Not to be outdone, Boo chimed in.

Boo: I know what the Baby Angel looks like!

Mommy: Tell me.

Then she presented me with a small painting her godmother gave her, of an angel watching a baby in its cradle.

She pointed to the baby.

Mommy: This is the Baby Angel?

Boo: No, Mommy. We are the baby, and the Angel is our Baby Angel, watching over us.

 5 year-old wisdom.

As a tear came to my eye, I thought this would make me sad.

But somehow it did not.

It’s actually comforting to know he’s here with us.

Knowing the girls acknowledge him too, and he’s part of regular discussion.

This morning, Bebs was acting up again.

Mommy: What would the Baby Angel say?

Bebs: Oh, I don’t think he would like it.

Mommy: Then you should be a good girl, a good big sister.

Bebs: You’re right, Mommy. I’ll be better, for the Baby Angel. I have to teach him things. That’s what big sisters do.

Yes they do.

And if he can help with behavioral issues too, A-W-E-S-O-M-E!

I knew losing a child could change a parent forever.

Who knew the influence that angel child would have on his siblings.

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In the early 1960s, my father came to the US from Greece, in search of his own American dream. When I was growing up, my dad regaled us with stories about coming to America. Fast forward to 2006, when on a boat in New York harbor, gazing at the Statue of Liberty, I recalled the story and shared it with my husband, garnering laughter from all around us. Here it is, with a reminder to keep family history alive. Your children should know where they come from. I hope you enjoy! Happy 4th of July!

“It’s the Goddess of America!”

NEW YORK — Ahh, New York City. The Big Apple. It’s truly an amazing city–positively electric, and seemingly on the verge of chaos at any moment. One afternoon, we made our way to Battery Park, to take an excursion to the Statue of Liberty. As a little girl, my father had told a wonderful story about the Statue of Liberty, upon his arrival in America. From that day, I’d always wanted to see it.

We were so excited to hear that the Statue of Liberty would be open this particular day. Since 9/11, it is rarely opened to visitors. I was so excited, recalling fondly my dad’s story. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the ticket window, we learned that no more tickets for the statue would be sold. We took the boat excursion any way – we had to see it.

The boat docked at Liberty Island, a 12-acre island in New York Harbor. I stood there in awe, gazing at this amazing statue that was a gift from the people of France so many years before. It was dedicated in October 1886, and serves as an international symbol of freedom and democracy. The Statue of Liberty was designated a national monument in 1924.  The flame of the torch has been restored, and it shines a glorious gold on the green statue. Until 1916, one could actually go inside the torch. The crown is also not accessible. The island is open every day except Christmas, and special, limited availability passes are needed to enter the statue.

Here we were, docked at Liberty Island. I thought about my father’s arrival in America, how he must have felt, and imagining him there. Now it was time to share this very cute story.

It was 1960. Just in his mid-20s, my father left his home near Olympia, Greece, and sailed on a boat for two weeks. He traveled in the lower level of the boat, since the tickets were quite expensive. There, he met about a dozen or so other young men from Greece, all with the same dream – to find work and prosper in America.

The journey lasted two weeks. “There was nothing to do, but play cards and drink,” my dad recalled. Finally, after two weeks, exhausted and plied with drink, one of the men decided to go take a look on deck, to find out if he could see “the Promised Land,” as he called it. The man came running down the stairs, shouting with joy, “The Goddess of America! It’s the Goddess of America! Hurry! Come quick!” They all ran upstairs to have a look, and the beautiful green lady was beckoning, welcoming them to the Land of Opportunity. “Can you believe it?” one said. “We have arrived in the land of dreams,” my father said to the group. “What a beautiful goddess she is,” another said. “She says, ‘Kalos Orisete!’ (Welcome!).  She will guide us and bring us prosperity in America,” the man continued. “But only if we present her with an offering.” They all paused to ponder what their offering to this goddess of America would be. Mind you, they had been drinking, didn’t sleep or eat much in two weeks, so you can imagine their mindset. Then one shared an idea: “Let’s shave our moustaches and sprinkle them on the goddess!” When asked why, he said, “to give her a piece of us, a piece of our Greek selves that we can leave behind forever. We’re now Americans!” It seemed silly, but they all went along with it. It was symbolic gesture, after all.

The very next day, they all had returned to the “Goddess of America,” clean-shaven, whiskers in hand, wrapped in their handkerchiefs. Even with a good night sleep, a meal, and no alcohol, they were determined to carry out the plan. One man rose to speak. “To the Goddess of America, we humbly give you this offering, and ask that you grant us prosperity and good health in America.” And they all proceeded to sprinkle their whiskers on the statue. They hugged one another, wished each other well, and then went on to find their new lives.

My dad never saw those men again, and to this day, will not grow a moustache, as if in some sort of secret pact with the goddess.

By this time, I’d noticed people had been listening as I told the story to my husband, and they were listening quite intently, smiling. They loved it!

I had to call my dad; thank goodness for cell phones. “Where are you?” he asked. “I’m on a boat looking at the ‘Goddess of America’,” I replied. He was silent. I thought perhaps he’d gotten choked up, remembering his arrival to the strange new land, the excitement, the fear, or was he surprised that I remembered the old story. “Dad, are you there?” I asked. I asked again. Was he going to tell me the story was made up for our amusement? Finally he answered. He couldn’t believe I remembered the story, so many years later. Then he laughed and said, “Sweetheart, did you find my moustache?”

Published in The Greek Star, ©August 2006


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