Tag Archives: Motherhood


“Even though NASA tries to simulate launch, and we practice in simulators, it’s not the same — it’s not even close to the same.”

Sally Ride

I began motherhood as a beginner — a raw neophyte not at all ready for the tiny bundle who sprang into the world in a grand jeté three weeks early. So much yet to do…so much still to prepare.

Yes, I’d been practicing my Lamaze breathing in preparation for the launch, but how did one simulate nurture — those years following the birth?  I was definitely not ready. The nursery wasn’t exactly bare though, mind you. Friends had given us a baby shower, so an avalanche of footed onesies and crocheted blankies eagerly awaited a tiny being to cover. Yet there were all those finishing touches I had planned, those welcoming decorations I’d wanted to have in place.

And then there were the mental preparations, the readying of my mind for motherhood, that segue from woman to mother. But wait, becoming a mother didn’t mean I’d no longer be a woman. Sigh. What, exactly, did it mean? These were the types of deep thoughts I had needed to ponder, organizing them in the files of my scattered brain so I could appear competent to my offspring, not to mention the world. No, I simply wasn’t ready. Only later did I truly understand the wisdom in that childhood Hide n’ Seek chant: “Ready or not, here I come!”

Now, through the long lens of retrospect, I see what I was naively searching for then — control. As I’ve since learned, that’s one thing motherhood doesn’t allow — control over either one’s own life or the new life just entrusted at birth. Oddly, that turns out to be a wise safety mechanism for both.

On the first day that my husband returned to work, after we had brought our newborn home from the hospital, panic arose within me. Looking over at my daughter’s sleeping form, I felt a frantic longing for the presence of my own mother three states away to mother me, to stand at my side telling me what to do.

I cried mightily, hormones careening wildly around my body desperately seeking equilibrium. Then I realized I’d have to step up to the plate and pick up the bat. There wasn’t another soul in sight. For she was stirring now, this helpless little individual, opening her eyes.

We looked at one another. Her small face and mine drew close together. Then she seemed to smile, even though research clearly states that first smiles, real social smiles, do not occur before two or three months. Still, a slight tilt of the lips combined with a twinkle in her eye (call it a glint of the sun if you must) surely resembled a smile to me.

At that moment, I knew I had already begun as a mother, she had begun as a daughter, and we would figure out the road ahead together. Over the next few years, her two sisters arrived to help us. The Tankard Ladies launched me as a mother. Then my firstborn handed me a new role as a grandmother. And that one needed absolutely no simulation. I launched right into it the minute that warm little bundle reached my waiting arms.

Who knew life could become even richer?

Copyright 2012 by Elaine F. Tankard


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 “Pick up a sesame seed but lose sight of a watermelon.”

Chinese Proverb

Selwyn Road in Cleveland Heights was my childhood haven for the first nine years of my life.  That long street shaped like an upside-down J began down at the foot of Greyton Road, almost to Noble Road. Then it rose on a hill all the way up to Monticello Boulevard, which led to Forest Hills Park where I went sledding.

I lived in the middle of the block, and Selwyn was rife with playmates all up and down the street. We’d congregate on one porch or another on hot summer days. One time it might be a Swap Meet, when each of us would bring toys, puzzles, or games we were tired of. Then the negotiations began, when we’d try to convince the person who’d brought an item we coveted that it was worth what we had to trade. Was one Mr. Potato Head game minus an ear worth the same as a set of Pick Up Stix that was short one stick? The finesse of those deals brokered in the early Fifties could serve as excellent lessons in today’s economy. Continue reading

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Metro Mishaps

“’It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,’ he used to say.

‘You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet,

there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.’”

—J.R.R. Tolkien

The Lord of the Rings, Part 1: The Fellowship of the Ring (p. 83)

One sunny October day, I arrived at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. And there was my smiling daughter, Jessica, waiting to meet me. She assisted in getting my luggage wheeled down one level below to the train station, where we hopped aboard the next departure to Rotterdam.

Once there, we maneuvered the two suitcases through the hustle and bustle of the crowded station to a little takeaway bistro/grocery she frequented. After we grabbed a couple sandwiches to munch at her apartment for lunch, we whisked out the door to head to the metro.

It was a hectic scene, made even more so by the construction going on. Commuters zipping hither and yon, travelers dragging luggage, passengers picking up snacks — it was a mélange of motion. Continue reading


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