A few months back, my family nearly fell apart. Here’s how it all went down from my mom’s perspective. In this final post, my mom takes it way back to her history.
Note: last week, my dad took over my blog with poems. This week, my mom takes over my blog with an in-depth discussion of how our family imploded and came back together. These are some of the toughest posts I’ve ever published. Except for minor stylistic changes, these are unedited. Love you mom, dad, and sis. P.S. I’m moving out March 1st…cause I’m all growned up now!
So Who are We, Anyhow?
The beginning. The beginning was 1979, the International Year Of The Child. I am nothing if not relentlessly politically correct, so I promptly got pregnant. Who knew you got all fat and everything? However, along came Josh. I took one look at this puny, red-faced, constantly crying, spitty-uppy little nubbin – and fell madly, irrevocably in love.
ME TO KENT SOME TIME AFTERWARDS: What, you want a second(!) baby??? My god, man, you’re insatiable!!!)
Sabrina arrived early and was pretty pissed off about it. She had all baby Josh’s above features except she peed more. Again, one look – euphoric, epiphanic love.
I was an old bag when I had the kids, had no idea what to do. Nor did Kent. So once I realized that I couldn’t get them a paper route until they could actually walk, I figured I’d probably have to, y’know, raise them.
Kent and I told everyone that the best thing we ever did for them during their lives with us was to “get out of their way.” We thought we were being clever but the fact is, they mostly made better decisions for themselves than we did.
But they made up for our parental stumblings by forming a terrific relationship with each other, right from the beginning. I wanted to raise both my boy and girl as Feminists so I bought little Josh a baby doll. My parents plotzed!
(NB: In fact both son & daughter grew up to be Feminists in the very best sense of the word)
We discussed that at one of our FamDins. Turns out that they used to perform marriages with their dolls and toys – the Barbies to the Ninja Turtles. Don’t think about that for too long.
Maybe I tried too hard. The big word when my kids were young was ‘enrichment’. There were tons of enrichment programs to which all the other mums took their kids. Well, I took them to the International Children’s Theatre Festival but the stuff was boring so I just sat them down in the theatre and went outside to read my newspaper. Well, I have needs too.
I did stay with them when I dragged them to every animation festival I could find. I love animation.
JOSH & SABRINA: Mummy there’s no duckies and mousies in this movie.
ME: (justifiably annoyed) This is Norman MacLaren, the animation genius of the National Film Board! Norman McLaren does not do ducks! Migod, Sabrina, you’re 5 years old, you should know that by now!! Now sit there and we’ll watch it all over again ‘til you get it right.
Okay, so I made them watch silent films on t.v. Like the 4-hour version of Greed. Okay, so they needed intensive therapy but at least I didn’t make them watch the original 7-hour version. I give and I give and I give.
My own parents were avid sports types. Tennis, lawn bowling, curling. (I on the other hand; I consider it a major sporting achievement when I manage to line up and fasten the buttons on my winter coat.) In curling the trick is to send the ‘rock’ into the other team’s ‘end’. In order to do that – and I’m simplifying this to an extreme – your team’s other members madly sweep the ice in front of the rock in order to give it smooth passage.
That’s what I wanted to do for my children. Sweep the ice of their lives so that they’d have smooth passage always. Only I should not and in any case I could not. Did I want to run ahead of them all the time and make things nice? Yes and yes again.
Did I want to go and punch out the grade 3 kid who invited every kid but my kid to a birthday party? Yah! Did I want to drive up to the university campus where my kid was defeated in a Student Council election by 25 friggin’ votes and find 25 random students and pummel their lights out? You friggin’ bet.
(DISCLOSURE: I am barely 5’ tall on a good day. The grade 3 kid would have had me in one round anyhow.)
But, as other mums will tell you, the hardest part is not sweeping that ice.
Just before this past New Year’s Eve, Josh handed me, Sabrina and Kent individually handwritten cards describing how he felt about us. I am still absorbing the warmth, perception and honesty in them. There’s a suspicious moisture in my eye as I read my card. Must be a speck of dust.
I love my babies and have always loved them more than any other mum has loved her kids, eh-ver. I’m talkin’ to you, mummy Alice in Atikoken, and you, mummy Sondra in Sarnia. I also admire, respect and am often in deep awe of them.
They drive me crazy, and won’t listen to me when I have so much worldly advice to give them. So why are they such productive human beings? Could it be that they actually do make the right decisions for themselves?? God, what a revelation.
I got stupidly lucky with the guy I married. (Yuh big palooka, you!). Same with the kids. (Yuh little buggers, you!) We’re not finished this living together thing yet. We have a couple more months left. The experiment continues.
What could go wrong?
Image courtesy of Josh Bowman.