“I’m never gonna have any kids. If I do I’ll pay you $1000.00”
I found this letter in my grandma’s stuff. My mom wrote it to her on December 14, 1961. Mom would have been sixteen at the time so she of course knew EVERYTHING. My grandmother must have said something like “just wait till you have your own kids” and hence the dramatic statement, that 52 years later, is pinned to my ‘motivation wall’ right next to a little sign that says ‘Ahhh…I see the screw up fairy has visited us again.’ But I digress. Enter my father, five or so years later, who TRICKED my mother (some people call it wooing) with his charm and good looks and presto magico…yeah, uh…it happens just like that (mom actually told me once that she would rather be burned to death than give birth another time, but AGAIN, I digress)…I enter the world, followed by my sister three years later. And I am glad for this. And I would imagine so is my sister. Had my mother kept her heals dug in on the no kids deal, I would not be here to enjoy my own fruits of motherhood. Actually six fruits: I practically have my own fruit tree.
Obviously, the being burned to death comment did not scare me. My grandma was right: I am good peasant stock with wide breeding hips and the legend is indeed true that I was talking on the phone when it came time to push out baby number three, my one and only daughter Maria. But I was numb from the waist down, so it’s not like I am some kind of rock star. Though I will say she shot out so fast that our doctor almost dropped our sweet, chubby so very female bundle of slippery flesh. I know that sounds kind of braggy (and graphic) (especially to you women who had agonizing 39 hour labors, I am so very sorry you had to go through that) but the giving birth six times part is the only GOOD (and relatively easy) thing I give myself full credit for in this rather disheveling journey of parenting. In fact Grant and I discussed this just last night and we agreed that he while is indeed 50% responsible for everything, including helping MAKE all six of them (though he claims he was forced a couple of times) I get full credit for the getting them out into the world.
But this got me to realizing, later, in the middle of the night, during a full blown, sobbing panic attack (Why does everything seem so BIG and IMPOSSIBLE in the middle of the night?) while I was lamenting over the fact that I brought all these kids into the world but don’t take very good care of them at least compared to the frozen in time Facebook pictures of all the other moms and dads who are nice to their kids and take them cool places and here we were with only two weeks left of summer and I had to be out of town for six of the fourteen days and I had not been the kind of mom I wanted to be (you know, the kind who is free spirited and fun-loving and adventuresome and CALM and patient with lots of free time and plenty of cash on hand so she can buy shush up junk food and those pre-made margaritas in freezable little pouches that are a nice pick-me-up when an adventure shows any sign of becoming hectic)all summer long on account of my insane work schedule and unpredictable 46 year old pre-menopause hormones that happened to show themselves in their full glory during the week I chose to take vacation (margaritas do not help much with hormones; I’m thinking meth probably would not help) and hang out with the kids…who knew one’s head could twist around so many times… that was a huge run-on sentence, but it’s my Blog, my rules…that if I was not going to give myself full credit for most of the good stuff that comes with having six kids, well then, as agreed upon just last night, 50% of me being a bad mom is completely my husband’s fault. And this, along with his gentle, quiet, “I have been married to a crazy woman for over twenty years and I know better than to say anything right now, besides I am very, very tired” back patting during my sobbing fits, lifted my spirits some.
First of all, I DID give birth to them all so I should be allowed to forget about the head spinning thing and not have it held against me. I have, after all, forgotten about (or at least moved on from) most of my own mother’s head spinning episodes. Though she has passed on to a place where there is no cause for head spinning. Also, one should not speak ill of the dead especially of one who is quite capable of coming back to haunt you.
Second, I have decided that not every summer should be memorable: it would be just too many memories to contain in one’s head. Think about it: just how many events can you look back upon fondly (or even not so fondly) at one time? Not very many, right? Too many memories = brain implosion. In fact, now that it’s morning and I am clear headed, I will go so far as to say that I have given my children a great gift: a boring summer where their heads are not overly filled with memories of too much fun. This way they can look fondly ahead, unimpaired by the longings of summer joy, to the excitement of school where there is a social life that does not involve annoying siblings who cheat, yell and pull hair during four hour long Monopoly games and a head-spinning mother who has issues when there is more Nutella on the outside of the jar than on the inside.
I am going to quote myself in something I wrote (a week before last night’s midnight melt-down) to one of my friends who voiced on Facebook the ever present fear of being unable to balance self, career, family, and household responsibilities:
“It’s an ebb and flow, this learning and unlearning and then RELEARNING that we are enough, and now is enough and no amount of anxiety over not having enough (time, energy, resources, love, quiet, peace) is going to make it any ‘more’ that it needs to be right now. I speak from the Catholic/Buddhist/Schizophrenic/Do as I Say not as I Do Perspective”.
So as I revisit my words, knowing they were spoken as much to me as they were to my friend, I will be glad my mom had kids and I will be secure in knowing that my own little fruits know how to entertain themselves and that I am not completely in charge of making every memory memorable for them and I will try next time to overlook the sticky Nutella jar and celebrate that I and Now (sticky as they both can be)are enough and there is really nothing more to it (that can’t be blamed on my husband).