Saturday, April 20, 2019

When Life Gives You Orchid Buds, Count Your Blessings
By Carolyn Schuk

Our cymbidium orchid usually starts blooming around Easter, as the days get perceptibly longer. Its last blooms fade in mid-June, on the longest days of the year. This year it has five flower spikes. The last time it was so abundant was 1991, the year my son was born.

EasterSince the millennium, the cymbidium's offerings have been slim. It's as if the plant knows whether the year to come will be fruitful or not.

For example, 1991 was a rollercoaster year. When I was seven months pregnant, the retail chain my husband worked for declared bankruptcy and the future looked to be an unemployment line.

Portents of irreversible decline were unmistakable at the software company I worked for. That the management gave my office to someone else while I was on maternity leave didn't help my anxiety level.

So there we were – a baby on the way and what had seemed like economic security evaporating like a freak Silicon Valley snowfall.

When Will was born, things didn't look up. We were now pathetically inexperienced parents with a colicky baby. I remember watching the sun come up one morning after a sleepless night and thinking, My life, as I know it, is over. One friend says that the first months with your first child are, quite simply, the worst of your life.

But as the orchid buds began to open, things, likewise, began opening up.

My husband landed a job with Whole Earth Access helping to open the store – now gone, alas – on Stevens Creek Blvd. Now, while some people – like me – have panic attacks just thinking about a project like this, my husband likes nothing better than being in charge of a big, complicated project.

At only five weeks Will began sleeping through the night – an extraordinary 11 hours from 8:00 at night to 7:00 in the morning. Soon after, I discovered that as long as we went somewhere — especially at night — he was a perfectly happy baby. He was like the old disco song, "I love the night life."

Then my former employer asked me to come back to work as a contractor, managing the company's newsletters. My mother came out from Pennsylvania to help. It was the perfect fit.

With my mother to babysit, I could get out of the house a few days a week, wear real clothes, and talk to grownups. But I could also remain a mostly stay-at-home mom. A few years later, that contract job was the genesis of a freelance copywriting business. That copywriting business evolved into writing for the Santa Clara Weekly, the best job I have had in my life.

By the end of 1991, Bill had a job he loved, Will was delighted with his two new friends in daycare, and I ended the year making more money – and getting more sleep – than I had working full-time.

Twenty-eight years later the orchid bounty still lifts my heart and I still count my blessings – one in particular. 

It was Will's birthday this week, and he can now add "Mueller Day" to the other auspicious event that happened on April 18: Paul Revere's famous ride. A ride that set a new experiment in governance in motion and an investigation that, hopefully, will put it back on the course its founders intended.

Will has grown into a fine man, with the patient persistence to reach any goal he sets for himself, an affectionate husband and (to date) a fond "parent" to his dog and cat. He has a good and generous heart, slow to anger or even annoyance — even with his parents.

And so as the Easter buds open, I'm going to count a new blessing with every one. Happy Easter.