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A day in the life: Reflections of a mother

By Jan Hollis

Special to the Post

That Friday morn in October 1969 dawned just like any other morn – but yet – the night before should have been a premonition of things to come!

The eve before started out calmly enough. Daddy called in late afternoon to tell us he was studying very hard and missed us, and would be home late the next eve.

All aglow from hearing Jim’s reassuring voice, I decided as I drove to the elementary grades football game to pick up our aspiring fifth-grade cheerleader, that we would all go out to eat that evening. When daddies are home, they don’t get much of a kick out of restaurant eating with six children! After a thrilling final quarter . . . we (the baby, the second-grader, the fifth-grade cheerleader and myself) left for a peaceful hour at home.

Since there would be no evening meal to prepare, I could accomplish much before it would be time to pick up the eighth-grader at their rehearsal for their “Hurricanette” performance at the Sr. High football game the next eve.

Upon entering the house the phone was ringing . . . naturally! It was a friend inviting the second-grader to spend Friday night with her. “Yes, I can come, OK. Goodbye.” Upon hanging up, she couldn’t remember if Kelly wanted her to come home from school with her, or whether she was to come to Kelly’s house later in the afternoon.

Then the two boys entered after delivering their newspapers. The ninth-grader, Mark, couldn’t deliver to one house because of the dogs, and would I please take him to deliver it in the car?

If I didn’t need the 11th-grader, Joel, could he run out to the golf course and hit a few? (He’s been on a streak of 75s and 77s and doesn’t want to cool off.) “Well, I don’t mind, but we were all going out to eat in a little while.” Have you ever seen a young boy’s eyes light up at the mention of food?

Oops, time to feed the 6-month-old, but first I should call the restaurant and place our order, so that the baby won’t get overly tired or fussy at the restaurant . . . “Someone please answer our phone, I’m busy . . .” It was someone wanting to know where their newspaper was. “Yes sir,” says Mark, “I’ll be glad to bring another one in a few minutes.”

Now it was past time to head to the restaurant. Will someone please get the baby’s pacifier? What a pleasant surprise to walk into the restaurant just as they were placing our order on the table. Banging a spoon on the high chair held the baby’s attention just long enough for us to enjoy our gourmet meal of hamburgers and fries!

Now the baby is tucked in for the night, hopefully! Five children are in various rooms in various positions concentrating on homework and now I’ll sit down here at my desk and do some paperwork.

It isn’t long before a commotion in the garage tells me that what I suspect is true. Quickly, someone, please bring the dog into the house. Guess tomorrow, I’ll take her to the vet for a few weeks!

Is that Mary, the baby, I hear fretting? Could someone upstairs please give her pacifier to her?

Lynn, someone wants to speak to you on the phone. After many “yes ma’am”s and “uh-huh,” she hung up. I asked what “the lady” wanted, and she couldn’t quite remember. Something about the children’s theater play. After a phone call back to “the lady” and a lecture about calling mother to the phone if she doesn’t understand. Now she’s tucked in bed, only to come to the top of the stairs twice . . . about what to take to Kelly’s house the next day for her overnight.

Now the eighth-grader, Julie, wonders, “Are my sneakers clean for the game, and can you sew my coat at two places before tomorrow night? And can Robbie (her best friend) spend the night . . . and oh yes, don’t forget to pick us up after the game, at a certain spot.”

As I delegate all the instructions to one portion of my feeble brain, the phone rings again. Oh, it’s for me . . . Will I serve as a grade mother? Yes, I’ll be glad to, since I’m already the refreshment chairman at Brownies, and on a service committee at Book Club. Now it rings again . . .

Finally, the house is quiet, and as I ascend the stairs, I try to tuck away the phone calls in a tiny portion of my brain. I mustn’t let Julie forget the babysitting job for Saturday night, etc., etc.

I have scarcely dozed off when the baby wakes up crying. After soothing her, she’s back in bed . . . Gee, my feet are cold, without Jim here to warm them . . . find some socks and hop back into bed . . . only to hear the baby cry again. This was to repeat several times during the night. How do you know if it’s teeth, ears or tummy? Finally, a warm bottle and a baby aspirin helped her sleep until morning.

As the five school children pulled out of the driveway with Joel at the wheel of the green Mustang, I sat down to glance at the newspaper with my coffee . . . the baby had other ideas . . . food! After feeding her, I prepare her bottle for her and it proceeded to leak all over her and the sofa cushions . . . Now it was time for a bath and dry clothes.

Now she is all nice and clean, and sitting in her playpen, the wash is in the washing machine; the dishes are in the dishwasher, and I am contemplating the three half-finished dresses on my sewing machine . . . or should I tackle the grocery list first?

Oh well, the day is still young and there’s plenty of time to do everything . . . except that somehow at three o’clock on this Friday in October, the same thing will start all over again . . . BUT  . . . daddy will be home this evening!

Jan Hollis lives in Salisbury.

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