Monday, December 26, 2011

On Maternal Instincts and Seasonal Toppings

Sometimes, I am so glad to be a woman. Today, I am not talking about great dresses or vintage jewelry or any other favorites. I am not even talking about sensuality and the deeper joys of being female.  Today, I am talking about instincts and the push-button response we women, especially mothers have in certain situations.

It happened in the midst of an ordinary Christmas gathering in my living room. My grandbaby had just opened a few presents and the rest of us were sitting back, sipping french vanilla creamed coffee and chatting.

Then we heard it. It was coming from my mother, the elder, the wise one, the mother of four, grandmother of thirteen, great-grandmother of nine and great-great grandmother of two. It was that siren, that oh- so -familiar alert, "Ooh! Ooh! Ooh!"  She pointed at the fifteen month old. My mother had spotted an object in the baby's hand that she deemed a possible danger. "She's got something!"

I don't remember how I got off the couch. I am supposing that I flew. My daughter, the baby's mother was supernaturally transported across the room too. We surrounded the baby on the floor. My mother continued to provide stats. "It's green!"

Squawks were emitted from the three of us. High pitched worries filled the air as six hands searched her chubby fingers for signs of the threat. A piece of broken Christmas bulb? An errant pill from some one's pocket? God forbid.  We picked her up, we inspected her mouth, opening our own mouths wide, wider, widest to show her how to give us a better view. She giggled and drooled. 

I was vaguely aware of my son-in-law, a doctor, looking on, calmly assessing the situation. If his eyes showed any surprise at all it was over the gaggle of concern that had swarmed his baby in less than a second.

Our frantic search seemed fruitless. Had she swallowed it? We scoured the floor, the furniture - hands flat, covering all surfaces. 
She seemed fine, we agreed. Cautiously relieved, we began to catch our breath.

Then I spied it! In between her chubby fingers - the enemy, the threat to our peaceful Christmas.

Together, we extracted the danger. It lay in my palm as mother, grandmother and great-grandmother all leaned in for closer inspection. 

My son -in-law raised a curious eyebrow as he peaked over the top of our heads. 

"It's a sprinkle!" He said, blatantly amused.

It must have come from the chocolate- dipped Oreos, we woman concluded.

Even though my son-in-law laughed heartily at us, there was a hint of admiration for the pack that we are. How the lionesses pounced and worked together in precision to protect the young. He would never admit this of course, but I saw it flash across his young, confident male face. I saw a smidgen of understanding and new- found respect for our rapid response, even if it was in folly. 

And we women? Of course we laughed. Of course it was thankfully, wonderfully ridiculous of us. We also know that in a heartbeat we will make fools of ourselves again and again to safe-guard the ones we love.


  1. I can feel myself there with all of you, springing from my seat. Yes, it is what we do. And I love it.

  2. you saw it falsh across his that is a good man
    in training