At precisely 6:09 AM yesterday morning, my daughter who has the internal biological clock of a Swiss watch, climbed into bed with me as she does every morning setting into motion the series of events that begin each bleary eyed day. Minutes after Lexi catapulted onto my bed landing on my head, my Chocolate Lab Jake barked to be fed, which, of course, woke up my son Jonah who came charging down the hall in a pitter patter more befitting a wild animal than a small child and jumped into my bed which then set off another steady stream of Jake’s barking. And within five minutes in near perfect unison, both kids announced that they wanted to go downstairs for breakfast.
So when I turned on the Today Show as I automatically do every day and learned that Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, dooming us in the Northeast to another six weeks of winter, I remembered, it was Groundhog Day. Well, that explains everything.
My Monday morning routine of carrying dirty sippy cups to the kitchen, collecting the garbage (Monday is garbage day), throwing in a load of laundry, downloading my nanny on the week ahead’s activities and sprinting to a Starbucks before hopping on my train is part of the mundane rituals of my life. Another Monday, another week, and another monthly train pass to buy.
But there are moments in life that do fortunately slow us down and force us to embrace the moment. I tend now to be an embracer, perhaps because I’m convinced that my mommy brain was rewired somewhere between pregnancy number one and breastfeeding number two and has left me lingering in a permanent, mushy mental condition that causes me to spontaneously choke up and cry even at really lame moments. I thought I’d outgrow it, possibly after my baby cravings had passed. But seven plus years into mommyhood and some hostile hormones and maternal brain damage still have me reaching for the tissues.
However this past weekend, it was not my children but my dear friend Gayle’s kids who made me pause, appreciate the moment and yes, weep.
Gayle, my college roommate was having a baby shower. It’s not that it was Gayle’s first baby that made it all poignant because Gayle has seven-year-old twins, Raya and Levi. But because of a wicked combination of infertility and fear, this pregnancy almost didn’t happen.
Gayle’s son Levi, a beautiful, sweet, blue eyed boy has autism. And Gayle has been fighting for her son every day of his life since he was diagnosed around 15 months old. But the fear of having another son with autism almost quashed the desire to have another baby.
So at the shower, we went around the room in one of those Internet-style shower games of putting beads on a string and making wishes for mom and the unborn. The dad is supposed to take the necklace into the delivery room for good luck. This is the kind of game that at any other friend’s shower I would have opted out of and gone to fetch another Mimosa. But for Gayle, the symbolic ritual felt almost spiritual. While all moms pray for a healthy baby, the wishes in this room for a healthy child took on another level of meaning.
So after all of the women had gone around the room, Gayle called in Levi so he could participate. Raya was already sitting on her mom’s lap.
“I wish that the baby is healthy. And I will love him so much and we will all love him so much,” Levi said sweetly and earnestly.
Hearing Levi speak clearly, connect with strangers and express himself appropriately is not only a miracle but a testament to the exhaustive energy Gayle has poured into her son. And listening to Levi, well, you guessed it, made me bawl.
For my friend and her family who have suffered so much sadness from struggling to conceive and then struggling with the devastation of autism, this was a moment to embrace. Gayle’s firstborns were there to celebrate the new baby on-the-way and to share in the good wishes for a healthy little boy. And as I drove home something Raya said as her mom opened gifts kept ringing in my head, “I just love our family,” she announced seemingly out of nowhere.
So on Groundhog Day, Levi who has always been in my heart is also on my mind. Embrace the moments big and small and even in the mundane. Thank you Levi.