Hi! I’m Kate, an exiled city child turned suburban mother of three who wages a daily battle against wrinkles, dust, a lack of personal time and the constant arrows that having a special needs child shoots directly into one’s heart. So far the dust and wrinkles are winning, but only because even the best of multi-taskers have their limits.
“A reluctant lemming” who clings to the ledge while others leap into the future ahead of me, I chose June of 2008 to risk the unknown and start my own blog, The Big Piece of Cake. This was originally meant to be “a humor blog.” Since then I’ve lost any semblance of focus. Sometimes I say interesting things…and sometimes I just say things.
In April 2013, I had my first essay published in print for Chicken Soup for the Soul: Raising Kids on the Spectrum, and in July 2013 my Listen to Your Mother 2012 reading, “Stupid,” was featured on Upworthy.com. In April 2014, my 2013 Listen to Your Mother essay, “Turn Signals,” was featured on The Washington Post On Parenting blog and in July 2014, I was interviewed by Sarah R. Bagley for her weekly podcast where we discussed Focusing on What’s Important. Two other essays will be featured in Monkey Star Press books, Mom for the Holidays and My Special Needs Child.
Do you want to know my whole life story? (Or at least some highlights…) I started a personal history for a family “ancestor book” and posted installments of it on my blog. You can read everything I’ve posted so far here (I’ll add updates until it’s done):
MY PERSONAL HISTORY
by Kate Coveny Hood – grade 6 (just kidding)
My earliest memory is a family picture taken when I was about nine months old. Or at least, I had a memory – then saw a picture and made the connection. In my memory, I was in a good place (my mother’s lap). Then I was moved somewhere else (a grandfather’s lap), and that was no good. I cried. There was a flash.
My mother confirmed the sequence of events when I asked. So I know this must be true. And I like the idea of knowing what it felt like to be a baby. Pre-verbal memories are like dreams – everything comes in sensory flashes…no words or perception of what anyone else could be thinking. Just undiluted personal experience.
I think about this memory sometimes and marvel over the rare opportunity it offers. I actually have some insight into what goes on in the minds of babies! Apparently, babies prefer to be with their mothers. I know this first hand!
Okay – so maybe my pre-verbal memory doesn’t really provide any useful information… But it’s pretty cool, right?
I remember a lot from my childhood (which makes the exercise of writing a personal history less than 3,000 pages long a bit daunting…) But this is most likely because I was always an observer.
You know those fearless kids who hurtle into life, head first? Yeah – that wasn’t me. I was more of a watch-consider-decide that doesn’t look like a good idea kind of girl. One drawback to this attitude is that I often let my cautious nature get in the way of having fun. But on the upside, I grew up with astonishingly few scars.
Since a blow by blow of the last 40+ years I’ve been on earth doesn’t seem possible, I’ll just try to cover the interesting stuff.
I was the oldest child in my family, born on April 27, 1972. According to my mother, it was a typical first delivery with very little drama. That is, if you don’t count the fact that my father and the doctor were so caught up in a televised basketball game, they almost missed the actual birth. But Mom had a feeling it was time, so she put her lovely manners aside for a few minutes and demanded a little attention.
From what I understand, I was a baby who refused to sleep unless held by someone who was walking. So I take full credit for my mother losing all of her baby weight (and then some) within three weeks of my birth. I think you could call that exercise plan “constant cardio.” It’s amazing how many calories you burn when you never get to lie down.
But I made up for my difficult infancy when I became a little girl who liked to sit quietly and read. Finally – Mom could sit!
I think I inherited my love of reading from my mother. From my earliest memories, she was never without a book in hand or within reach. She has always been a calm and peaceful presence in our family – and this created an environment most conducive to quiet time for reading and reflection.
Not so much my father. Where Mom made space for others to be themselves, Dad’s larger than life presence filled the room. He wrote songs and played them on the piano for us. The Toe Song was our favorite and I can still remember the words, “holding hands is fun…holding feet is dumb.” He also played with us in a way that doesn’t come easily to anyone over the age of 13. He would throw himself heart and soul into games that really just boiled down to chasing us around the house.
And he can STILL play with wild abandon all these years later. I watch Oliver, George and Eleanor beside themselves with giggles as Grandpa pretends to be a monster, and gives them piggy back rides up and down the stairs. It’s like he never stopped being a kid, himself. And I relive my own childhood watching them – seeing my brother and me in the smiling faces of my children.
My brother and I are two years apart, so we played together a lot when we were little. I hear I wasn’t his biggest fan at first, but luckily there are no stories about us that involved harmful intent. I think the worst thing I did was stand in front of my mother while she was nursing Matthew, look her square in the eye and then pee all over the floor. I must say, for someone who has never been fond of the spotlight, I certainly did have a flair for making my disgruntled presence known.
In anticipation of my brother’s birth, my parents moved our little family from a tiny Tudor house in Scarsdale to a larger one in Pelham, NY.
I loved that house with its wisteria covered, wrap-around patio. Set on an incline, the basement was full of light from large arched windows overlooking the backyard. And our hill was excellent for sledding.
We had a swing set, but the main attraction for the kids who visited was rope swing so long and so high, it’s miraculous that no one was ever brained on the tree trunk. You couldn’t pay me enough money to get on that thing now, but at the time it felt like flying.
On the other side of our yard was a house where one of my then four-year-old brother’s first friend lived. He was also named Matthew and had an older teenage brother who taught them to light firecrackers and took them for rides on his motorcycle. I’m not sure how my mother found out about that, but I do remember the waves of frantic anxiety I could feel in her presence whenever the other Matthew and his family were involved.
My best friend was my cousin, Amy. Dad’s older brother, Uncle Dick moved his family to Pelham first. And he and my Aunt Linda had three girls. Kelly was three years older than me, which at that stage of childhood, may as well have been decades. But Kristin and Amy were respectively one year older and younger.
Kristin was a tomboy, often spotted standing on the banana seat of her bike as she raced down the hill. I could never keep up with that. Amy, on the other hand was a more exuberant version of me. We were both giggly and full of imagination, but where I was reserved Amy was a love. Such an affectionate little girl – no one could resist her charms.
She was also a character. Much to my cousin’s dismay, my Aunt Linda insisted on keeping Amy’s wispy blond hair short (something I completely understand now that I have my own daughter with wispy blond hair…) But Amy desperately wanted long hair. So she would pretend to have waist-long tresses by wearing tights on her head. She’d swing the limp, two-legged pony tail from side to side, asking me what I thought of her beautiful new hairstyle. And as clearly as I can remember that part of the story, I have no recollection of what I said in response.
I loved Amy.
To be continued…