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03/12/2009: "The Cookie Moon"
I don't know if you've noticed, but this week we've been having some lovely full moon viewing very early in the morning. Daylight Savings Time, although one of my personal pet peeves, does have it's minor perks and one of them is that you can actually view the moon in the early morning hours, say around 6:45 am. That happens to be the time I bundle up the Pumpkin Seed and haul her over to my mom's for the day (I know! 6:45 is criminally early.)
Last Saturday I had a craving for pizza. We've been working really hard to curb any and all unnecessary spending since it wasn't at all clear whether I would have a job next school year. Between the budget mess in California and the economy in general, we knew that cuts in education were coming and the possible loss of my position has been looming over my head for months. I haven't been teaching for that long, and my seniority (or lack thereof) made me a target.
We found out on Friday that my district will not have to make any teacher cuts this year. I'm surprised you didn't hear my sigh of relief, wherever you are. To celebrate, I untied the purse strings just a tiny bit and pizza was on the menu (the take-and-bake kind, mind you. It's very delicious, takes about the same amount of time as delivery and costs less than half, even when you factor in gas. The purse strings were untied a TINY bit, I said!) After ordering, I headed out to pick up some celebratory wine and then get the pizza.
When I got to the grocery store I happened to notice a woman about my age wheeling a cart with a baby girl about 15 or 16 months old. We exchanged smiles and I saw that the baby was looking a little tired. I got my Chardonnay, briefly considered additions to my shopping list, wandered around the deli section for a minute or two and then, sternly reminding myself to Stick To My List (a budget-friendly mantra that I've been working on heavily since the beginning of the year), headed to the check-out line.
Directly in front of me was the same woman I'd seen when I entered the store. This time, though, the baby was slung over her shoulder, out like the proverbial light. The woman was trying, with only a modicum of success, to get her groceries out of the cart with just one hand, simultaneously attempting not to jostle the baby awake.
"Let me help you," I said, putting down my basket and moving to get the last of her items out of the cart and onto the check-out belt. "Cuddle the baby."
She visibly relaxed. "Thank you so much," she started. "This is the first time she's ever fallen asleep in my arms like this when we've been out."
And suddenly I knew that woman. She was me. It was as clear to me as water. Here was a woman who'd waited a long time to have her child - through choice or circumstances or both - and this was her only child. I don't know exactly how I knew, but I knew.
"Is she your first?" I asked after the cart was emptied, to make conversation.
"My only," she replied with a sureness and a sadness.
It was only when I was back in the car driving home that I realized why I recognized this mother. It was the way she knew that this was the first time her daughter had fallen asleep in her arms that way. She was a mom paying extremely close attention to the details because she'd waited a long time for them. And she knew that those details weren't coming her way again.
I hope her daughter tells her about the Cookie Moon, too.
Replies: 2 Comments - Read 'em!
on Wednesday, March 18th, Jeannie said
I love the way you tell a story. I can't get cookie moon out of my head now. I wish I was closer! I'm itching to scoop that precious girl up and give her hug after hug.
on Thursday, March 19th, Mandy said
Dessa was at the ranch and there was an airplane and the moon in a clear afternoon sky. I thought she was going to go into convulsions it was so exciting.