The other night, we had a party. A little one. The girls stayed up until eleven, and went to sleep happy. For them, I think the night was a little magical. I had tucked them into bed with their friend who had come with her mother to the party at 9:30, but at 11:00, they were still up, cuddled together, Sadie reading to the younger girls. When I told them what time it was, they said, “eleven?” with a disbelief in their tired scruffy voices that seemed to say that they were utterly surprised that there was an eleven at night at all. After all, it was nothing they had ever experienced before.
When I was little, I stayed up late a lot. I’m sure that I had a reasonable bedtime, but as the only child of a single young working mom, I often tagged along to parties or wherever else my mother might be going. When she sang in little bars I would be there in the corner, munching my complimentary nachos, and I even have memories of loitering in the restaurant where she used to waitress. Even for me then, I remember the glittery quality of late night, the way people sounded different, smelled different. I remember knowing that I was awake when other people were asleep, and simultaneously loving it and craving my bed.
When it comes to taking my girls out into the dark world after 7:00, I definitely am more conservative than my mother was. They need their sleep, and I protect it like a mother bear.
But a few nights here and there, tromping through a grown up party with a little pack of kids, these are pleasures that I wouldn’t keep from them for anything. I am a lover of parties, but as special as these nights are for me, I know that their memories of the night will last much longer than mine. These are the moments when they impress me with their self sufficiency. They are determined to show me that they are up for the evening, and most of the time, they really do come through.
I have been feeling grateful to them all weekend. It is okay when they are not up for it, but when they are, I feel like I can be a whole person and a mother at once, and this is a good thing.
Having started off on a good foot this weekend, we have been trading little acknowledgments of gratitude since then. Sadie made breakfast yesterday, and then after reading that you should bring the people you love breakfast in bed on Valentines Day, she and Rosie woke up Joey and I with toast and applesauce this morning. All weekend there have been more and more valentines arriving on the fridge, and in our pockets. And for my part, I have been putting every thing I can into my heart cake pan, because I know that it makes most food taste a lot better.
My lovely friend Paige wrote about jello this week, and that was a valentine in itself. What Paige didn’t know was that I love jello above most things, and it is a treat in which I don’t tend to indulge. The flavor is not of interest to me, red, green, purple; I don’t care, as long as the texture is right. I can’t remember the last time I have had the pleasure of a good bite of jello sliding down my throat, and it seems that I have also been keeping it from my children. As the jello set in the refrigerator, the girls ran around the kitchen chanting jello songs, and when Sadie paused to ask Rosie, “Do you even know what jello is?”, Rosie answered, “Not exactly.” It was time, I think. It was certainly time.
Now my girls have had the joy of jello, and at least for now they don’t know that most jello is not made from juice. I’d like to think that when they have the other stuff, they’ll say, “My mom’s jello is so much better than this!” And it will have been, especially when it was shaped like a heart. Late glittery nights and a jello heart once in a while… these are the simple magical acts I can handle.
thanks to Paige at The Sister Project
4 cups juice
2 envelopes Knox Gelatine
optional: 2 cups fresh, frozen or canned fruit (berries are great here, or peaches)
Bring 3 cups of the juice just to a boil. In a separate bowl or measuring cup, pour the last cup of juice. Sprinkle the gelatine over it. Let sit for five minutes. Pour the hot juice over the juice/ gelatine mixture and stir until gelatine is completely dissolved, 3-5 minutes. Spread the fruit, if using, along the bottom of the individual cups or larger (heart!) mold. Pour the hot mixture over the fruit. Refrigerate until set, 6-12 hours.