The directions said to follow the brook to the footbridge. It wasn’t as much a bridge as it was a steel grate laid across the two damp banks. I hadn’t even stepped off the dusty forest path onto this “bridge” when I heard it. Above the whispering leaves, the hush of the breeze and the shrill calls of birds, I heard the best sound in the world – the crack of a baseball bat.
Prague’s Eagles’ baseball fields are a fifteen minute bus ride out of the city center and a quick walk down a hill, with a street so overgrown with untrimmed trees and shrubs that it could be a deserted path in a ghost town. Truthfully, it probably just hasn’t been taken care of since spring fell upon us a few weeks ago.
Canon strung around my neck, I approached the five baseball and softball fields and every inch of me – from my sun-deprived skin to my camera-itchy fingers – was ready for a baseball game.
Morning comes early in May. The world is an alarm clock, sending in chipper rays of sunshine through my skylight window long before my actual alarm begins to ring, only without a snooze button.
I miss the days when 5:30 in the morning was still crowned with crystal starlight, inviting me warmly back under the covers (I could literally sleep forever if it not ever got light). Now I have roosters going off at six and sunbeams on high by 6:30. Spring is the worst.
Thursday was an exciting day though. I knew it was going to be, so I eventually dragged myself from bed (very, very begrudgingly) and started to get ready for work. Thursday was the school’s Garden Party, a very grandiose affair that my colleagues have been planning for months. It is the send-off ceremony, in many ways, for our ninth graders and a chance for family and friends to see what our students of all ages are capable of (following the taped pathways backstage is not in their repertoire of talents, unfortunately).
Enter: the first mistake of the day.
Despite hearing that the weather was supposed to be rainy, I decided to put on a dress I felt appropriate for a Garden Party. I’ve been wearing jeans to school a lot lately, drifting away from my more “school teachery” clothes, so I thought a dress might be nice for a change.
Of all the bad decisions I have made, this one is probably the most pitiable.
It rained. It rained a lot.
My Mom is the beautiful one in the middle. Circa 1993.
My childhood seems really far away, like a place you have been but that fades the farther away you drive until you almost can’t tell if it’s real or just a mirage, conceived in the tender parts of your mind that will always long to return.
(That was a long sentence. I’m sorry).
If anything made my childhood a happy one, it was my mom. She fought to protect the golden walls of innocence that shield a child’s mind from the daunting, the dark and the disappointing. The weeks after we moved into the house my parents have been renting for almost the last two decades, we’d all sit on the kitchen floor and eat chips ‘n salsa for lunch. Mom would curl up next to us, sitting Indian style, as we made a mess of the kitchen floor and usually ourselves. Salsa is messy stuff if you do it right.
I never thought about who cleaned up that mess – I would just run off to play.
Many of our mothers, whatever their failures might be, were the most shining example of sacrifice and love in our lives growing up, and continue to be as we become adults or have our own children. (And can I just say that facebook is getting more and more cluttered with pictures of my friends’ babies. I love children. I’m sure I love your children. But, like… seriously guys. Seriously).
I couldn’t be home for Mother’s Day this year and it made me realize how much I miss my mom. It also made me realize how God has used other women in my life to temporarily step in and take care of me. Because, frankly, everyone needs a mom around.
Despite massive cultural differences and language gaps, I have noticed a few commonalities between mothers. In honor of my mom, my stand-in mothers, and every woman who has birthed and raised a child, here it is: UNIVERSAL MOTHERISMS. Continue reading