My Cute Little German Mother seemed to thoroughly enjoy all of the chaos that went on at our house from the day before Christmas Eve to the day after New Year’s. My sister, brother-in-law, two nieces, nephew and their dog were all here for a visit. On Christmas Eve, all were gathered in our not-so-big house, including my other sister and her family, 16 people all together. Scenes such as this would have made the Little Cutie nervous in the past ... the noise, the carpet stains, etc., but these days, she’s fine with all of it. The 2-year-old would sometimes do what all 2-year-olds do – get into something he shouldn’t, such as taking ornaments off the tree to play with. Someone would say, “No, no,” and then My Cute Little German Mother would tell us to just let him have it. The dogs were especially naughty this time. My husky-mix, Lucy, all white, just loves it when my sister’s Lab, Jake, all black, comes to visit. They are so cute ... usually. But this time, Jake actually lifted his leg and peed on a gift under the tree. Yep, he really did and we couldn’t believe it because he absolutely has never before done such a thing. “Oh, dat’s OK,” said the Little Cutie, “just vipe it off.” Then Lucy, a few days later, decided that she really wanted to kill my little nephew’s Thomas train as she watched it go around the track. We managed to save that Thomas, but she did chew up a look-alike from another toy box, as well as several other toys and some blocks. And, like Jake, this behavior was completely out of character for her. “Vell, she just vants to play, too ... don’t fuss at her,” said my mother. My sister and I are just amazed at the transformation the Little Cutie has made ... definitely not the same woman who raised us ... definitely not the same woman who used to get very upset with us if we left books on the table ... certainly not the same woman who scrubbed carpet stains at least weekly on her hands and knees, dusted the ceiling fans weekly, and even used Q-tips to clean any crevice in the house, such as window tracks, to be sure there was no dirt, anywhere. Nope, now she doesn’t even see carpet stains, doesn’t mind sticky floors, is not bothered by chaos and clutter. If things got too noisy, she just went to her recliner in her room. I got her a new heater, as she is always cold. This one has a remote control, so she doesn’t have to get up to turn it on or adjust it. Happy as a warm little clam, she was. We all had a very nice visit. Even my brother-in-law who had to sleep on the pull-out bed that my son calls a “prison cot.” Amid the flurry of unwrapping, loud conversation coming from every direction, cups and plates strewn throughout, dogs chasing each other back and forth, the Little Cutie seemed to just sit back and take it all in with complete ease. Now, if only I could be more like that now, instead of when I’m older. As she saw smiles, I saw another stain on the carpet. As she saw discovery and playfulness, I saw another ornament lost to the baby or the dogs. As she heard happy chaos, I heard chips being crushed into the carpet. When I realized what I was focusing on, I realized that I had a valuable lesson to learn. Another lesson taught by My Cute Little German Mother. One that I already knew in theory, but had not really practiced. When I did, all was so much more enjoyable. Now, don’t get me wrong, I totally loved the time we spent together. But shutting off that bit that played in the background of my mind was quite liberating. Yes, my Little Cutie is nothing if not liberated. She may have physical issues that get her frustrated, but she does not sweat the small stuff. My sister and I were up late with her one night, along with a dear friend whom my mother has not seen in years. Monica grew up on our street when we were kids, and my mother calls her fourth daughter. She was in town from Brooklyn, and had been for some time, as her mother has been in the hospital since before Thanksgiving. Thankfully, she is now on the mend. So me, my sister, this dear friend and my mom sat and talked in her room about fond memories from the past. We talked about funny things we did as kids, memories of Monica’s very large extended family, and her dear grandmother, now gone, who used to make the most wonderful tamales in the world. There were stains on the carpet in front of my mom’s recliner, and a number of cups and such on her side table ... but the talk and the clutter were very comforting to me.

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