It is the holiday season, 1997. Gordon and I live in Brooklyn on Van Buren Street and we have two babies: Forrest, who is 21 months old, and Ennis, who is 2 months old. We have planned to have our annual Carol's Daughter Holiday Bazaar at St. John's Church on Lewis Avenue because we know that our first floor showroom in our brownstone will not be able to handle the flow of guests/holiday shoppers. A recent article in Essence (November, 1997), featuring me and my business, had significantly raised our profile and people were coming and calling from all over. The mailing list had almost tripled since the article hit newsstands in early October to just under 6,000 names.
Renting the room at the church seemed like a good idea at the time -- until all of the phone and mail orders began to come in for the holiday. The space required decorating, moving and setting up and as the opening date came closer, it was apparent that we just could not do it. With the existing showroom too small, Gordon and I gave up our living room. We moved our living room furniture into our bedroom and converted our living room into a much larger showroom that would be able to hold many more guests. The downstairs was adapted to accommodate cash wrap and custom gifting.
The church was only four blocks from our house, and we put up signs to redirect those who had received their postcards to go to St. John's. We had all of the bases covered. Our Holiday Bazaar would take place the last two shopping Saturdays before Christmas, and then we would put our living room back together and put up our tree in time for Santa to visit our boys. The only problem was that our bedroom was so filled with extra furniture that one had to climb over stuff in order to go to bed.
The small hall room right off of our bedroom was the nursery. It was also full, including the crib. So, our boys were with us. Forrest was in the bed next to Daddy and Ennis, who was supposed to be in his bassinet, was usually asleep on Mommy.
I remember feeling bad about the business creeping into our lives in such a big way. Being an entrepreneur and having a business operate out of your home, it was almost an impossible task to separate work life from home life. Ennis came home from the hospital two days after that Essence article had come out and it was such a whirlwind to be a mom again for the second time, but it all felt new because now I had two babies. I nursed Ennis and was still nursing Forrest, so I had a very bizarre sleep/work schedule. It was not uncommon to nurse one baby and then have the other one wake up for a snack and then perhaps want to stay up for a while and coo.
One of these nights, with my living room sofa now pushed up against my bed like a co-sleeper, Ennis woke up to eat, and I slid off the bed and both of us were on the sofa. Forrest had just dozed off and I did not want him to wake up again. I remember having one of the most blissful moments of my entire life. The three most important men in my life were right here. I could hear everyone breathe as they slept, each with their own pattern of inhales and exhales. It was the most beautiful sound ever. Ennis was lying on top of me. He was finished eating and back asleep. The top of his head smelled like brownsugar goodness like all newborns. His cheek was warm and soft against me, and I remember thinking "this is it." This is why we work hard. This is what life means. This is what is important.
My boys are big now. Forrest is 16; 6'1 and can pick me up with very little effort. Ennis is 15 and about 5'9, and he is still my sweet baby. No more brown sugar goodness coming out of the top of his head, though. My darling, wonderful, precocious daughter, Becca Carol, has joined them. She is 6 and has taught me so much in the six years she has been in my life.
My three babies are too big to sleep in the bed with Mommy and Daddy. Now we have to cuddle one at a time, if we get to cuddle at all. For the most part, my lap and arms are Becca's territory. Now, my bliss comes from being home and listening to the sounds of my house. When I think of the chaos that befell our home when all of that furniture moved into my bedroom, I smile. If that had not happened I would not have the amazing memory I have of that night. I am not sure I would have the same appreciation for some of these seemingly little things in life.
There are times when I travel and I welcome the peace and quiet of a hotel room, and then there are times when I cannot wait to get home to"hear" my house. Most of the time it is loud. Music playing, a television or two on somewhere, children bickering, Daddy fussing, the white noise of a video game, but then it gets quiet. Everyone is in their bed, and I can hear Gordon's breathing, Becca's light little snore coming from the room next to ours, the hum of non-descript tunes coming from Forrest's room downstairs. He always sleeps with music. Ennis' room is totally quiet, but I feel him and I know I am home. I know that I am loved and once again the sound of my loved ones is my lullaby and my bliss.