My Deluxe Summer

July 28, 2010

I have had a very good summer.

I owe this very good summer to something that happened last summer, and last summer is the one that I will always consider to be “My Deluxe Summer.”

My third child, my pork chop, Timothy James, was born in May last year. My daughter was wrapping up her time as a preschooler and beginning the summer before Kindergarten. My second child, Max, had turned 2 in February. My sweet boy, my dear one, had suddenly become my middle child, and I didn’t want him to fall between the cracks of my oldest and my new baby. I didn’t want to let the summer go by without spending special time with my daughter (she was showing the signs of someone who knew that Something Big was about to happen!) And finally, I didn’t want to “disappear up my own bottom” as a dear (and very British) friend of mine once said, stuck in the limbo that can develop when the hormonal waves of post partumdom come crashing in.

My life preserver through that summer was Deluxe Pastries on Summit Ave. Because of the lure of lovely treats made with Real Butter, because of the lovely shop itself all in white and pink paint, because of Evan and Taylor and once in awhile Ms. Jamie herself (I stopped in right after it opened Jamie arrives a bit later I’m told), because of the very best coffee in Iowa City, I was able to muster up the motivation and wherewithall to drag my enormous baby-fat laden bottom up, get 3 children moving, and get loaded into the van to get our day started.

Another few thoughts about Jamie, the shop’s Über-Talented owner. Random thoughts, really. I got to know Jamie prior to the opening of the shop. Before kids. Perhaps we were both adjusting to married life and a bit twitchy to make our mark. Jamie is the closest thing to an It Girl I have ever met. She’s the only one I ever told that I did, in fact, know I was going to have a girl before she was born — and how scared I was to consider having and trying to raise a daughter.

Jamie  has made my daughter’s birthday cakes for her each year, and I hope she continues to do so until she makes her wedding cake someday. She is more cool than I ever was or ever hope to be. She amazes me with her ability to pull together a “look” from items from a second-hand store, her own creations, and things she has on hand. She also amazes me how she speaks to every person in her shop like they are the most important person there — and they are — and still not leave anyone out, and still run a business like the pro she is.

That’s Jamie. And that’s what you would know if you happen to go into the bakery for a treat. (My personal favorite are the butter dunked muffins. My kids pick out a short bread cookie dipped in white chocolate, all in seasonal shapes reflecting a bit of irony and a dash of nostalgia.) But what you wouldn’t know is how I survived my initiation into being the mother of 3 children simply by deciding that I was going to have a Deluxe Summer.

Each morning that we visited the shop, Natalie and Max would select their cookie of the day. The baby would be sleeping in his infant seat. Evan at Deluxe would make sure the decaf was hot and the cream was ready. I got to talk to a grown up. I got to pretend that I was still on top of things, and I wasn’t really freaking out. And with our little pink box in hand (and me with a hot cup of coffee and the baby in hand too — duh, I know, don’t tell me how stupid this was) we all made our way out the door and back into the Real World.

We’d visit a nearby park or playground before it was time to drop off Max at his babysitter and Natalie at Kinderfarm preschool. Since the baby was napping, I got to talk to the bigger 2 about ants and birds and trains and crows … ask them what they thought the clouds looked like … sip my wonderful cup of Joe and brace myself for the rest of the day.

By the time I got myself and the baby back home, it was Mommy Time (aka time for nursing) and so by then I had digested my muffin and it was time to get a little exercise in. I suppose it seems counterproductive to indulge in a goodie and then go run, but I think there is no harm done at that stage of the new mommy game, when fitness is more about getting moving and getting some fresh air than it is about competition (in any form) or dropping pounds. I read somewhere that this motherhood race is a marathon, not a sprint, so we need to pace ourselves.

After all that, it might only have been 11:30 am, but I felt like I could count it as a good day. I was up, I had showered, I had spent quality time with my kiddos. I had made their morning special, and had proven that I had not deserted them now that someone smaller and needier had made his tyrannical appearance. I was in a good place, in that I was forming a good habit of getting some daily fitness in. I could then spend a couple of hours holding my precious newborn in the afternoon, dozing and nursing, waiting for the time to go collect the other 2 who had spent their day having fun and staying on track with their own routines.

As anyone who has brought a baby home might admit, those first few weeks and months are so very hard. (And I’m sure anyone who has gone through every stage after the newborn one will also say that it’s so very hard!) Maybe, someday, I will fess up to the fact that I believe, on some level, I kind of lost my mind after I became a mom for the first time. But I’ll save that for another time.

Because I did something right by the time I brought a third baby home. I didn’t disappear up my own bottom, I got off that ol’ bottom and got out there and felt the sunshine on my face and hear the treasure that was the laughter of my very own kids. And I can thank Jamie and Evan and Taylor and shortbread cookies with white chocolate icing and hot coffee with cream for giving me the first reason to do it.  That was my Deluxe Summer.

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