Mayor Daley is my hero.

You’ve got to really like someone to name your kid after them.  I mean, it’s kind of a big deal to bestow that particular honor.  Mary Tyler Son is named after our soon to be retiring Mayor.  Not Richard, that’s too obvious. 

And not Dick, that’s just mean – – I love my boy.  Mary Tyler Son’s middle name is Daley.  No joke.  I’d tell you his first name, but then folks would really make fun of me. 

When our boy was born Mr. Mary Tyler Mom, New England born and bred as he is, needed a bit of convincing and coaxing before agreeing to my South Side Irish request, but just a bit.  Our rationale is that we wanted Mary Tyler Son to know where he came from and what better way than to slap on Daley as his moniker. 

I mean, seriously folks, what other word comes close to calling forth our Second City more so than Daley?  Mary Tyler Son is gonna know where his roots are.  When he grows up and chooses to leave behind his old mom and dad, Sweet Home Chicago will always be whispering his name.

I’ve been trying to get a photo with Mary Tyler Son and his namesake since last August, before Richard M. announced his retirement plans.  I wrote a nice letter, attached a photo of the happy family to demonstrate we were benign a family as they come, and sent it off to City Hall, as instructed by the rude girl answering the phone at the Mayor’s office.  Nothing.  Huh.

I reached out to my old neighbor, the former liquor commissioner.  Nothing.  Huh.  I reached out to my alderman, whose aide told me, and I quote, “Nobody wants to waste a favor with the Mayor.” 

I reached out to my mom’s best friend’s daughter, now married to another alderman.  That looked promising, but then, nothing.  Huh.  I sent other letters.  Nothing.  Huh.   

When Richard M. announced his retirement, I shed a few tears.  I’m not kidding.  I didn’t understand it myself until I read Mary Schmich’s column about him being a father figure to the whole of the City a day or so later.  Then I got it. 

Soon after I started this odyssey, that announcement came and I panicked, and then I thought, nah, it’s too good a story, he’s gonna eat it up – – seriously, what higher compliment is there than to ensure a legacy through a namesake?  Tsk, tsk, tsk, who knew it would be so hard?  Certainly not I.  But never underestimate the powers of a determined mother.  Never. 

Growing up Irish Catholic in the south suburbs, you couldn’t help but respect our own home grown Kennedys.  The day Richard J. died in office, I was six and playing at a neighbor’s home.  I heard the news on their tee vee and scooted home pronto.  I wanted to be with my family. 

My six year old self felt that I needed to be with family.  I sat, rapt, and watched Fahey Flynn, another Chicago Irish icon I wanted to name a kid after (Mr. Mary Tyler Mom put his foot down on that one) report the news. The end of an era, it was.  But then, just thirteen years later, Richard M. moved into City Hall.   

Mayor Daley II and I have something in common.  We are both members of what I sadly refer to as the “terrible fraternity” – – parents who have buried a child. He lost a young son, two years old, I believe, to spina biffada in the early 80s. 

I had met Mayor Daley before, at a Children’s Memorial Hospital event we were invited to when my dear Donna was going through her cancer treatment.  I saw a smile on his face, but sadness in his eyes.  It really made an impression on me. 

I didn’t know at that time that he had lost a son, but when I read that fact a year or so later, my memories jumped back to the event at Children’s and the sadness in those eyes.  I understand that sadness now.  It is my sadness, too.  It is a bitch (all apologies, Dad, I promised I would not swear). 

So, yeah, Mayor Daley is my hero.  He wakes up every day and gets through that day and sleeps to wake again.  Being relatively new in my grief, that means something to me.  And through his grief, he championed what he lovingly refers to as “the best City in the world.”

Politics aside, folks, he loves his home, I love my home, it is our home.  Last weekend, Mr. Mary Tyler Mom and I brought little Mary Tyler Son to the Neighborhood Appreciation Tour to meet his namesake.  He did, we did, and here’s the shot to prove it:

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To think I could have gone to Baltimore.

So when you work and parent with another parent, compromise is KING.  I happen to parent with the love of my life, Mr. Mary Tyler Mom.  I am lucky in that regard.  He is the best and most of the time I think much more qualified than myself in certain parenting skills:  patience, laid backedness, creativity, patience.  Mr. Mary Tyler Mom also earns more than three times what I earn, despite my advanced degree.  Thems the breaks, kids. 

In my new gig I made a conscious choice to step away from the clinical social work I had been doing for ten years before I left the work force to move to Cancerville.  After losing a mom and daughter to brain tumors within four years, the last thing I want to do right now is sit in a room and listen to someone detail their problems to me.  Yeah, that is not in the proverbial cards right now.  So I found myself a non-profit advocacy gig.  “Fancy social work,” I call it.  I get to work in a neat high rise with an impressive address.  I am making the world safe for disease educators everywhere.  It’s a living, and honestly, I am much better suited to it right now as it doesn’t require lots of empathy.  ‘Know your limitations’ is one of my personal mantras.

Anyways.  This week it was requested that I take a day trip to Baltimore.  In and out in a day.  The gig would be to fly to Baltimore to sit in a room with a government contractor and provide feedback on their analysis of a particular disease related social ill.  Why that appeals to me, I can’t tell you, but Lordy, I wanted to go.  Then I checked the calendar and realized I could not go.  Nope.  Mr. Mary Tyler Mom is scheduled to be on his own business trip that week.  Thems the breaks, kids.

Aside from the disappointment of missing the jet set-edness of a day trip to Baltimore – – and for me my entire relationship to Baltimore comes from being an avid fan of The Wire – – a business trip is a symbol of a lot of things:  having arrived professionally, sitting in a plane and reading without having to entertain a toddler, being alone.  Really alone.  Knowing that Mr. Mary Tyler Mom’s business trips are a higher priority just kind of sucks.  And then there is the worry of what does it mean to have to decline a business trip because of family obligations.  Sigh.  Thems the breaks, kids.  Right?

Mary Tyler Mom moves to the Big City.

I’m a waffler.  It annoys the hell out of me, my husband (Mr.Mary Tyler Mom) and no doubt, someday it will annoy my son, too (Mary Tyler Son).  But as Donald Rumsfeld says, It is what it is.  I waffle.  Don’t confuse that with cooking waffles.  I don’t cook waffles.  I simply waffle.

In December 2010 I went back to my professional career after a four year hiatus spent caring and grieving for my first born child, a beautiful girl named Donna.  Donna died eighteen months ago, but who’s counting?  Technically, seventeen months and twenty days, but that’s only if you’re counting.  Sigh.  During Donna’s illness and our grief, Mr. Mary Tyler Mom and I started an online journal to help us stay connected to the folks that matter to us.  It kind of became it’s own thing and made the hell that is pediatric cancer accessible to many a folk.  When Donna died, we still wrote, just less.  Then Mr. Mary Tyler Mom stopped, but I kept writing.  It helped and was a lot cheaper than therapy.  The irony that I used to be a hospice grief counself is thick, folks.  Thick.  

That said, the time came where I missed my old working self – – that hopeful, optimistic young thing who used to idealize Mary Tyler Moore.   That young gal who was going to change the world, one person at a time.  Sigh.  Yeah.  I’m older now.  Grayer.  Grieving.  I no longer think Imma change the world one person at a time.  Nah.  I’m pretty happy just doing my own thing, taking care of Mary Tyler Son, knowing intimately that childhood is freaking (I promised my Dad I wouldn’t swear anymore) fleeting.  So I went back to work.  And started Mary Tyler Mom.  Donna’s illness did bring me the gift of writing.  I love it and it helps.  Mary Tyler Moore is my patron saint of hope, and yeah, I’m older and married and my legs aren’t nearly as good as hers, but damn if my kids aren’t cuter. 

But what about the waffles?  Oh, yeah.  So I started Mary Tyler Mom in January and then a friend suggested I pitch it to ChicagoNow and I did and they liked it.  Cool.  But that meant moving on up to the Big City, to the big deluxe apartment in the sky.  Here is where the waffling begins.  I’m protective of Mary Tyler Mom.  And I hate change.  Change can suck it (is that swearing?).  Do I move?  Do I open myself up to you all?  Blah, blah, blah, whine, whine, whine.  I’m telling you I’m boring.  Waffling is boring.  It took me two freaking months of a daily diet of waffles to get here.  But I’m here.   

What’s my point?  I don’t know.  Other than anything worthwhile takes work.  And time.  Like my job.  I now work in a non-profit corporate environment.  And just now, three + months in, I’m starting to feel at home.  I’ve learned the codes to the copy machine and office mates now ask how my weekend was.  Hard earned, people, hard earned.  The grind of fixing dinner for a toddler and a husband who is never home at the same time any given night has set in.  I’ll be writing about working and mothering simultaneously.  I’m earnest and sarcastic and wicked funny and sometimes a downer.  Consider this our introduction.  Stop in, pull up your selectric and a cup of coffee and let’s chat.  Talk to Mary Tyler Mom.