You may not readily see what I see on this month’s cover: my personal angels. Perfect in pink, the elder angel, Maria Maldonado, serendipitously entered my family’s life nearly 30 years ago.
At that time, my husband and I were always exhausted, often angry and definitely struggling in our respective ways with work responsibilities, raising our little ones and juggling all the other demands of life, with no family support. We desperately needed a mother’s sturdy shoulder and wisdom.The stresses and strains of family life had us playing an un-fun game of “Who does more?” with a consistent zero-sum outcome.
But life transformed the moment we met Maria. Eli, our colicky, then-6-month-old baby, practically leapt out of my arms to land gently into her loving and calm embrace.
We became a new and improved family.
Our daughters, now magnificent mothers and aunties in their own right, instantaneously bonded, whiling away endless carefree summer days at “Camp Maria.” They dressed up their human doll Eli, trundled to awesome (and horrible) day camps and graffitied many Queen Anne neighborhood sidewalks with chalk art.
Some summer days, we would all pile into my car and descend upon some fancy beach club, sneaking in and acting like we owned the place. This trio of sister-like friends owned the Little Howe Park tire swings. They remain friends and confidantes to this day.
When our darling little girl gaggle eventually aged out of Camp Maria, I proposed the idea of having a third baby to my very-happy-with-two-kids husband. Slightly in jest (not), I explained that this third baby was a necessity for me and Maria — we had to keep our love train on the tracks. Enter Maya, born in 2001. And, as we expected, she marvelously extended our parenting journey.
Today, our reliable tag team is blessed with a next generation of grand-babies: Jessica is a fantastic mother of two and Arielle’s son Levi joined the family October 21, 2018.
Levi’s unexpectedly tumultuous entry into this world last fall quickly schooled his new parents on the endless joy and utter chaos a new baby brings, as well as the understanding that each child’s birth is a miracle. To the rescue came Swedish Medical Center NICU nurse Vickie Andrews and her extraordinarily skilled and caring team. Hers is one of those stressful yet rewarding jobs you may only come to appreciate when someone you love requires saving.
I find myself reflecting on my beloved mother Shulamit — and how her exceptional values drive much of my daily work in ParentMap and in my community. On the occasion of this Mother’s Day, I honor her memory and the most marvelous mothers who walk closest to me: my dear Maria, Jessica and Arielle. To be in their presence is to witness exceptional teachers modeling how to love and be truly present and calm.
And with this new generation, we will continue to do what all loving families do: Share life’s sorrows and joys, births and deaths, quinceañeras and weddings.