An Homage to Women, Wives and Mothers

Posted by on Aug 21, 2014 in Blog, Paintings | 42 Comments
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My eldest stepped out of the car yesterday in a brand new lemon-yellow school shirt and khaki shorts, holding a bag full of pencils, gummy erasers, round-end scissors, Elmers glue, etc. Before I could even catch him for a kiss, Kai was up the stairs and gone to his first day of first grade. At least he was smiling, which is more than I can say for my wife and me.

As we drove away, Jodi told me she felt nervous and out of sorts. About what exactly, she could not say.

Today is our 9th anniversary.

I won’t bore you with “it goes so fast” sap. I will give props to the person who carried that first-grader … and his preK4 brother, through a herculean struggle that nearly put the light out of both our eyes. We thought, very seriously, we’d be childless. Jodi weathered 3 miscarriages in one year, stuck a needle in her belly every day for 8 months and laid still on a couch for 8 weeks, unable to do anything but stare out the window of our houseboat at the beautiful cruel world that mocked our most fundamental dreams.

Houseboat Living Room

Jodi’s bedrest quarters on our houseboat

She sacrificed, as all mothers do, at a level we men can only pretend to understand. For far too long, our lives felt like a Dali painting where all the clocks were melting. I did my best, throughout those dark years, to cheerlead and not make a bad situation worse. One thing I did do was make some paintings specifically geared to bring our son.

Bounce, acrylic and antique Betty Crocker Cookbook recipes on panel, 40"x60, 2007, Stuart Sheldon

Bounce, acrylic and antique Betty Crocker Cookbook recipes on panel, 40″x60″, 2007, Stuart Sheldon

Then, on the fourth try, we found ourselves in a SF hospital, nervous that our son was five weeks early. “You ready to have a baby?” our doc asked, her gloved hands raised. Jodi bore down in agony, channeling all mothers from all time. I held her sweaty left hand, or should I say, I allowed her to squeeze mine fiercely. For the next half hour, roughly every minute, each contraction and push extracted a guttural, low-pitched groan. No man can make that feral, wounded wolf sound.

A contraction ended, and I touched a cool wet cloth to Jodi’s sweating face. Her chin dropped to her chest. “Almost home, honey,” I whispered into her ear. In a few more contractions, the very top of the baby’s head, still not outside Jodi’s body, became slightly visible, a white clammy sliver no wider than a pencil and covered in dark matted hair. Soon you will smile in my face, Kai … or cry. I do not care which. 

“I can get him out in the next two contractions,” the doc said.
“Do it!” Jodi barked with the last of her vigor.

Our world was a pinpoint.

I wanted this next moment to click by in frames, so that I could fully witness my child emerging. To study the evolving look on his face, and Jodi’s face, and mine. To feel the earth shift in my reality. To recognize a line at which my life changed forever. I wanted this moment to be very, very slow. It could not have happened more quickly. The doc put a small suction cup on the crown of his head, and with Jodi’s considerable cooperation, yanked him out on the next contraction like she was uncorking a rare Bordeaux.

And there he was … our first-grader.

All covered in white foam. Our little seahorse. Alive and well and chomping at the bit so hard he arrived four-and-a-half weeks early. His eyes puffy as scones. He grabbed my finger and squeezed it seconds after emerging. A firm unwavering grip. “I am here. Let’s DO THIS!” he said clearly with that squeeze.

Hello Kai. Thank your mother.

My world did shift on that day. In fact, it shifted 9 years ago when she said, “I do.” Because that was when a semblance of order entered my chaos. We weathered some squalls together that would have sunk many a couple. Now, we’re cruising like nobody’s business.

Thank you, Jodi … for being a natural, amazing, prototypical mother. And for being a stellar, empathetic and patient partner. And for being funny and silly and serious and adorable. I’m sorry I forgot to put Bodhi’s family picture in his school bag yesterday; thanks for always forgiving my dumbassness.

We’ve got a good thing, even when one of us is out of sorts. We’ll just be out of sorts together. Let me say, with humility and gratitude, for all the world to hear, that I LOVE YOU and appreciate every bit of it.

Happy Anniversary!

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42 Comments

  1. Art Sheldon
    August 21, 2014

    As always, Son………. you stab it and bring me to tears (or at least watery eyes)

    Thanks
    dad

    Reply
  2. Jenny D
    August 21, 2014

    Happy Anniversary, from your sobbing friend, Jen.

    Reply
    • Stuart Sheldon
      August 21, 2014

      mmmmmmmwwwaHHHHHH. YOU are one of the women, wives and mothers I mean to honor!

      Reply
  3. mimi
    August 21, 2014

    tears and more tears. so beautifully written. happy anniversary!

    love,
    mom

    Reply
  4. Julio
    August 21, 2014

    Beautiful words Stuart, I’m glad to receiving your post, those are not only well written but also give me a time of life. Maybe I’m becoming old, but I need these kind of moments.

    Reply
    • Stuart Sheldon
      August 21, 2014

      We all need these, buddy!

      Reply
  5. Julio
    August 21, 2014

    I forgot to mention: Happy anniversary!!!!

    Reply
  6. Jennifer Cullen
    August 21, 2014

    Beautifully said my friend. Happy anniversary to you both!

    Reply
  7. Jodi
    August 21, 2014

    Laughing and crying and grateful for it all. How’d I get so lucky?? I love you, too

    Reply
  8. Torben
    August 21, 2014

    Very well written and happy anniversary.

    Reply
  9. andy peay
    August 21, 2014

    Sheesh, you are so kind and thoughtful you make the rest of us dogs look a bit rangy. Hey, is that a California hillside in the background?! Y’all been out here recently?

    Reply
    • Stuart Sheldon
      August 21, 2014

      Broham, you think I’d comne to SF without a call. That’s Colorado … Evergreen to be exact. Just back from there.

      Reply
  10. victoria joy
    August 21, 2014

    delightful to share in the beauty and wonder of life with you…congratulations, hooray, lahiem.
    A witnessing, nosey, happy next door neighbor.

    Reply
    • Stuart Sheldon
      August 21, 2014

      You were there for every bit of it!

      Reply
  11. Lori
    August 21, 2014

    Happy Anniversary !!

    Reply
  12. Malia
    August 21, 2014

    Beautiful words!
    Happy Anniversary!!
    Jodi you look radiant and the men look proud.
    Enjoy :-)

    Reply
  13. debbie sutz
    August 21, 2014

    Beautiful……

    Reply
  14. Lynn wruble
    August 21, 2014

    Loved reading your post today..so sweet and tender,
    Hope you have a Happy anniversary! Ours was a few days ago..55
    Wonderful years!

    Looks like Colorado in background.

    LYNN

    Reply
  15. Karen
    August 21, 2014

    Lovely sentiment and beautifully written.

    Reply
  16. mark
    August 21, 2014

    Stuie & Jodi – Happy 9th anniversary and may each one get sweeter like the nectar of a great piece of fruit on a hot sunny day. We are all so blessed and fortunate. Love you guys, Mark & Beli.

    Reply
  17. Valerie
    August 21, 2014

    Truly Beautiful! I Love reading your words! Thank you for sharing them with us. … and Happy Birthday tomorrow. I hope you have a wonderful day with your Awesome Wonderful Family!!!!!
    Love Always,
    Valerie xo :)

    Reply
    • Stuart Sheldon
      August 21, 2014

      Valerie – I see a dinner in our future soon. big kiss.

      Reply
  18. Norman
    August 21, 2014

    lovely !!! thanks for sharing… our anniversary is Saturday… 45 years…. and yes, it does go fast….

    Reply
    • Stuart Sheldon
      August 21, 2014

      Bravo Norman! Paint me your latest emotion.

      Reply
  19. Gary
    August 22, 2014

    KInd of setting the bar a bit high for the rest of us don’t ya think?

    Reply
    • Stuart Sheldon
      August 22, 2014

      Dude, I’m just catching up to the rest of you normal people that figured all this shit out long ago

      Reply
  20. Martha Louise Hunter
    August 22, 2014

    Once again, flawless!

    Reply
    • Stuart Sheldon
      August 22, 2014

      big hug, martha!

      Reply
  21. Shanequa
    August 22, 2014

    My prayers go the everlasting blissful success of your marriage! Happy anniversary Jodi & Stu! You are both so blessed to have each other. Xo

    Reply
  22. Anonymous
    August 22, 2014

    STU… YOUR WORDS TOOK MY BREATH AWAY…AND THIS TIME WAS FOLLOWED BY TEARS. GOD’S BLESSINGS ON THIS BEAUTIFUL LITTLE FAMILY…STU, JODI, KAI AND BODJI. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY YOU TWO…AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE BIG GUY. MUCH LOVE…..GRANNIE

    Reply
    • Stuart Sheldon
      August 22, 2014

      I love you Grannie. We all do. SO MUCH!

      Reply
  23. Irma Goldstein
    August 22, 2014

    Oh, Stuart. You are something else. You are the quintessential renaissance man, and your values are honed to luminosity. I doubt Jodi has ever received such a tribute, nor the rest of us, for that matter, but that tribute is a gift equal to the two gifts she has given you. You are in perfect balance. Now that’s a marriage! Wishing you many, many more happy and healthy years together.
    Love, Irma

    Reply
    • Stuart Sheldon
      August 22, 2014

      You truly honor us with this poetry, Irma.

      Reply
  24. Sandra
    August 23, 2014

    There’s nothing better, in a woman’s mind, than knowing her man gets it (the out of sorts stuff, I mean). You get it. Congratulations! Happy anniversary!

    Reply
    • Stuart Sheldon
      August 23, 2014

      I’m finally starting to get it … but it took a damn long while

      Reply
  25. Naomi
    August 23, 2014

    What a gorgeous tribute to the mother of your children. Beautiful!

    Reply
  26. Jeff S
    August 27, 2014

    What a wonderful piece. From the heart, the brain, the soul. Maestro.
    Give your gorgeous family big hugs and kisses.

    Reply
    • Stuart Sheldon
      August 28, 2014

      Thanks old friend!

      Reply
  27. Dale Pistilli
    August 28, 2014

    You’ve beautifully captured in words how I feel about Ginger who, after three miscarriages, IVF, and PGD (look that second one up) and three months of bed rest, delivered our little seahorses, Lola and Gigi. Nothing can compare to their sacrifice.

    Humbled by them all…

    Reply
    • Stuart Sheldon
      August 28, 2014

      “Nothing can compare to their sacrifice.” Nothing!

      Reply
  28. Dedra Smith
    September 8, 2014

    Dear Stuart,

    You are the voice I wish all men heard inside themselves, awash with love and appreciation for the women who have shown them love, adored them, stopped them, started them, given to them and received from them.

    Someone sent me this video of a man who has fathered 34 children, and holds none of them in awe; counts no blessings, rubs no tummies, buys no pencils or gummy erasers, and certainly doesn’t hold the mothers of these children in his heart or soul. He can’t even stand to hold the dolls that are given to him to represent his babies. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/05/iyanla-vanzant-jay-williams-father-of-34-children_n_5768680.html

    Reply
    • Stuart Sheldon
      September 8, 2014

      Thanks Dedra,
      All men owe an immeasurable debt of gratitude to women. And all fathers owe a different, yet equally profound, debt of gratitude to their children. Whoever fails to see that is both blind and pitiful.

      Reply

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