Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A lesson-filled journey

6:15 p.m. Today's project was to prepare a home style dinner for our oldest son Sean. I call it "home style" because it's pretty much what I made the kids and Steve for dinner at least twice a month-- spaghetti and meatballs. In lean times there would be a bit of crumbled sausage or a couple of slices of pepperoni, or no meat at all. The key is to saute the fresh veggies, pressed garlic and meat in virgin olive oil, add plenty of herbs and seasonings, and a good tot of dark red Burgundy to a large pot of sauce. The tomato portion was 1 small can Contadina tomato paste, 1 16 oz can tomato halves, and two large cans Del Monte tomato sauce. I just love the different textures of paste, large chunks of tomato, and smooth sauce! I could eat a whole can of tomato paste, so sweet and delicious. My pasta had to be Buitoni or Creamettes. The sauce cooked for the better part of two days. If I felt particularly into it, I'd finish it off in the oven for an additional few hours.

All this before the Food Network! The Joy of Cooking was and is my encyclopedia.I had lessons from an excellent Italian home cook, and worked at a huge Italian restaurant, La Barbera's in Santa Monica, when I was in college. The flavors just became ingrained in me.

It struck me as so funny when one of my sons told me that he never really liked spaghetti, so I replied "that's what families of 7 eat!!" But no one ever turned down my garlic bread that went with it! (Like getting the kids to eat a hearty soup by making it the price of admission to get the cornbread, rolls, or biscuits)!

The births of each of my children had different and dramatic effects on my life, but birthing my firstborn was a game-changer. Up to that point, I'd lived a pretty indulged life: raised in beautiful Redlands; three years in a sorority at UCLA, as well as being a member of honor societies and clubs; worked various part-time jobs for extra spending money; and then about 3 years before Sean was born,  moved to Colorado for the country hippie lifestyle. Married by now, I became a new mom at 24.

This was 1975. No sonograms were given unless the doctor suspected a problem; and I don't know whether ultrasounds had even been invented. Of course, home births and midwives were all the rage in our cabin and tee pee crowd, but were very much frowned upon by the establishment. (I opted for regular doctor visits and natural childbirth in the noisy, bare bones, green-everywhere Delta County hospital.  Let's not get too crazy)! I did make it all the way to the end, when I finally accepted a Demerol shot. With your first labor, you don't know how bad it may get before it's over! No painkillers with any of the others, though. Why chance endangering the baby?

One thing I learned that followed me with every subsequent birth, was that I was Rh negative, so I had to get a nasty rhogam shot after Sean was born, for protection, they said, for the next pregnancy. Is that theory still in practice today? At 60, I'm out of the loop!

Now I was responsible for another person, physically responsible, not just at a job, or tutoring struggling peers. But the magical, God-thing about carrying a baby for 9 months is that you love that little one already before you ever see them! You have nurtured their every moment with your own food consumption, and cleaned up all of your bad habits so he will be healthy. And when you feed your firstborn from your own breast--it's hard to believe it's happening. The bond is so intense, unlike anything else on this earth! It's a bond God created and recognizes as totally unique. The Lord shows how infinitely He remembers, knows and loves His children by comparing His love to a mother's love. That is a signal honor, in my eyes!  In response to Zion's claim that God has forsaken and forgotten them, He answers in Isaiah 49:15-16a,

"Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands."

From Sean's tiny blood-tipped ear I spotted when I first held him, to his ever-growing walk with the Lord throughout childhood, the teen years, as a young adult and now as a father himself, I know God has a special work for him to do in His name! And that work is already conceived, planned out and prepared and at work even now. For me, the ultimate lesson, the reward of a prayerful mother's journey is found, for each child, in I Corinthians 2:9:

Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of
The things which God has
  prepared for those who love


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