“Good for you,” said Diane Rehm to her guest.
This encouragement she interjected as author Helen Simonson was recalling a decision that she and her husband had made years ago. Helen, the busy advertising executive, would interrupt her career and stay home to nurture their newborn child.
Helen, author of the novel Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, had understood that it was time to make a change—that the demands of helpless baby upon her new motherhood would create a full-time job for her, and a new role in life.
“What were we thinking?” she remembered, as if they suddenly realized the importance of motherhood. Her husband, busy bank executive who never got home ‘til after 8 pm, and she, busy advertising executive who never got home ‘til after 8, had planned for her to take a brief absence to have the baby. But then they decided that Helen would just be a mother for a long while.
And Diane said, “Good for you.”
These words encouraged me. My wife had chosen full-time motherhood years ago before launching her career as a nurse. We have never regretted that decision.
I heard this exchange as part of an interview on Diane Rehm’s show on NPR today, March 8.
A few hours later, I heard another gem of encouragement:
“…we’re go’nna make it…” Dr. Martin Luther King had said.
He had been speaking to (now Congressman) John Lewis as they sat in a home near Selma in 1965 during the events that surrounded Bloody Sunday and the civil rights march from Selma to Birmingham, Alabama. As they listened expectantly to a televised announcement from Washington, President Lyndon Johnson had said:
“…and we shall, we shall overcome.”
And Dr. King had spoken his thoughts, “we’re gonna make it.” “John, we’re go’nna make it to Montgomery, and the voting acts will be passed.”
Such a day was this for profound utterances! An hour later I heard this:
“Andrew, keep your pants rolled up,” which was an exhortation shouted by a mother to her son from an open window. The 10-year-old son was playing an impromptu baseball game in an open area on this, the first warm day of 2010.
“Don’t sit on the ground,” shouted mama a few minutes later from her vigilant window parch. Because there was, you know, still snow on the ground. These kids were playing baseball in patchy snow. Such is the power of imminent springtime to provoke pickup baseball.
“Go, go, go!” said his teammate to Andrew, as he knocked a grounder that stopped cold in the infield snow.
Like I said before, ev’body need a mama, justice, and a little encouragement now and then.