Mary Poppins is a superhero and other words worth knowing

I’ve grown to associate the summer with the superhero thanks to the plethora of movies featuring masks, spandex, and last-second rescues. But not all stories of the summer involve vats of radioactive goo or other experiments gone awry.

This story started out years ago – almost nine to be exact.

I’d been promoted shortly before learning I was also expecting. Not to worry – while the timing might have been less than ideal, it was all going to my master plan. I was going to have it all and there wasn’t anyone out there who could stop me. Whahahahahah.

It turns out I was wrong. There was a person who could stop me. That person was me.

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aka – What my youngest wants to be when he grows up. Image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com

Thanks to a series of regrettable mistakes, my eldest son was less than a year old when I found myself in desperate need of a dependable care provider for the third time.

I saw an ad online for a stay at home mom located near my home, and though I liked the idea of a public daycare with their known holidays, trained professionals, and proven curriculum, the lack of balance in my bank account and paid time off, made it all too clear we no longer had the luxury of being picky.

I noticed all her references were from out of state. Desperate times…, I thought as I nervously dialed, but every single one told me the same thing. If she has an opening, hire her. You won’t regret it. Yeah, we’ll see.

The day of our scheduled interview, I brought Kiddo along as if his newborn senses could somehow detect dangers, bad auras, or other half-truths. We started with the story about her most recent move from Maryland and why they, as Iraqi immigrants, had chosen to move further south. Kiddo cooed, rolled, or did something cute and our conversation turned to the matter at hand while she cuddled him and gave him a toy – exactly, how would she care for my son?

The short answer was – like one of her own.

However, in the years since that initial hire, the longer answer also proved to be – much better than how I might have cared for him alone. I’ve since come to suspect that she was less than forthcoming about how she’d come to my town during that initial interview, but then again, if you were interviewing Mary Poppins, would you really trust a person who claimed to have arrived by umbrella? Especially in today’s modern climate? Of course not.

She taught my children responsibility as well as courtesy. When her sister visited from overseas, she gave them the opportunity to experience cultural sensitivity too. Then when my youngest was slow to start walking, she attended his physical therapy sessions with me so that she could ensure his weekly challenges were part of their daily routine. They were lessons I might have taught, but I know myself to say it wouldn’t have been with the same degree of unquestionable patience.

So I will forgive her for the omission regarding her method of transportation. While she might not be a superhuman (unless you are like me, and consider the ability to care for five children under the age of six for eight to nine hours a day without going mad, a superpower) she is still a super human to me.

My youngest son, LT, graduates from her care this week, an event prompting this post. I am overjoyed at the idea I might actually find an extra dollar or two in my savings at the end of each month, relieved at the thought of an extra minute or two at the end of my daily commute and proud of how my son has grown under her loving care. However, I can’t help feeling I’m losing a bit of my support system and a piece of my family, which has added a sadness sprinkled with an ounce of terror too.

I thought – there has to be a word to describe what I am feeling, but maybe it simply hasn’t been translated into English yet. So I looked it up.

found words like:

Plutchik-wheel.svg
Emotion Wheel – courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
  • Hygge (Danish) – that trendy word for the feeling you get when you are cozy and sitting around a fire and everything is just the way it should be
  • Boketto (Japanese) – a word meaning that wistful feeling you get when you gaze out of a window and imagine the world on the other side and all its possibilities
  • Iktsuarpok (Inuit) – the anxious/panicked feeling when you are expecting visitors anytime and can’t stop thinking there is something else you need to do to get ready while checking to see if they’ve arrived every sixty seconds. (I know this feeling too well).

and some which made it into the English language, but are not as well known like:

  • Vellichor – that wistful, nostalgic feeling some of us book lovers get when we go to a used bookstore or old library and imagine the story behind how a book came to be on the shelf.
  • Occhiolism – the feeling that comes from the awareness that your perspective is limited.
  • Sonder – the realization that each person you meet (and even those you haven’t) has a story of their own and life just as full of uncertainty, experiences, and mixed emotions as yours.

This chapter in our lives may be ending, mine, LT’s, and hers, but I know it is also a beginning for us all too. As LT readies for kindergarten and my needs change from daycare to day camps, I know that there is probably another family out there in need of help, hoping for a last-second rescue.

And to that family – I know the woman floating in via umbrella looks highly suspicious. I do. But if you find she has an availability, hire her. You won’t regret it. Believe me. Superheroes are real. This I know.

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An Unimaginable Century – Live Long and Prosper

We had just returned from enjoying a morning at the neighborhood pool. The kids were demanding snacks. Somewhat distracted as I grabbed our pool bag, I yanked the car’s back hatch down. Whack! The corner of the hatch struck the side of my head.

I might be a bit of a klutz, but I can take comfort in the knowledge that I will likely live to be an old klutz. In theory, I have good genes, even if my spatial judgment is lacking. My grandpa is turning 100 years old this Monday and the family is coming from all corners to celebrate. Well, at least many of us are. My cousin’s daughter is expecting her first child any day now*, so she has a pass.

The birth of the newest edition means that my grandfather will still be alive at the birth of his first great-great grandchild. A few months from now, the newest edition will be given a string of vaccinations that weren’t even discovered the year my grandfather was born, let alone up for debate by the general public. Penicillin wouldn’t be discovered for another thirteen years. Just imagining coping with my sons’ double ear infections without something like Amoxicillin makes me shudder. While it may amaze me that five generations might be living under the same sun, perhaps it shouldn’t. As life expectancies increase, this could well become the norm.

The year my grandfather was born, Bell Labs introduced the technology make the first coast to coast telephone call possible. Today, you may well be reading this on the other side of the world seconds after I click a publish button. The year my grandfather was born, movies like Interstellar could not have even been dreamed up as Einstein didn’t formulate his theory on relativity until November. Forget manipulating time and space via a space ship and artificial wormholes, there were so few cars at the time, stop signs weren’t needed on the streets of Detroit until that December.

Even if someone did dream up a flying ship (fueled by magic as liquid fueled rockets weren’t invented until 1926), many of the movie’s plot details would be missing. It would be unlikely that the mission’s astronauts would send or receive family messages as short wave radio wasn’t invented until 1919. Nor would they have droid assistance. The first robot didn’t appear until 1921.

Wormhole
‘Wormhole’ – Image by W.H. de Vries courtesy of Flickr

My dad begged and pleaded with those of us coming to the party to share our stories of grandpa. In addition to being clumsy, I am a terrible driver, and my Grandpa is partially to blame. A survivor of the Great Depression, Grandpa is not one who wastes. When I was learning to drive, he pointed out that braking was wasting gas. The adult me recognizes that what he meant was that I should remove my foot from the accelerator well before the light turns red. The teenager heard “drive hard, don’t brake until you have to, and when you have to – brake fast!” It’s a habit I am still trying to break (all the more reason I strongly support telecommuting – another thing not imaginable one hundred years ago).

I’ve been told by Grandpa on more than one occasion that I look very much like his sister, especially after he has told me something in Croatian. I don’t speak a word of Croatian, but the strong resemblance makes him think I should. I wish I did, but I just have never had a knack for languages. I have a hard enough time with English. But still he tries again with each visit. And I smile. And I say we’ll see you again soon. And I mean it. He’s lived 100 years, why couldn’t he be around for another 100? More unimaginable things have happened.

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*The newest edition to the family was born on 5/29/15