Sunday, May 10, 2009

Maternal Inclinations....

Some women, if asked, would say that they'd wanted to be a mom all their life. I can't really say that. It never occurred to me to consider options - I didn't stop to think, to make a choice. I do remember leaving for school each day, with dolls tucked under the edges of the covers, making a line across the bed. I didn't play favorites even back then, they were just lined up. If I'd been partial to one or another, Thumbelina would have been smack dab in the middle of the bed, because she was so dear to me.

I remember playing in my mother's laundry room, a separate room off the carport, with a washtub. Somehow I came up with a system of cutting the bottom off a dishsoap bottle, suspending it over the sink, so that when you pulled on the cap, water came out. I don't know why I didn't just turn on the faucet, but I do remember the contraption, and hours spent out there with my dolls.

I remember the playhouse my brother, Gary built for me in our back yard and hours spent there, with tea cups filled with flower petals and pine cones served on little plates. I suspect I used my mother's old dishes, rather than a shiny play set. There were tents built over the clotheslines, while I was nestled under playing with dolls, and one big house where I spread blankets on the lawn, again serving tea and sympathy to my dolls.

Soon I moved on to Barbie dolls which tend to bring out something more hormonal than maternal, a longing to have those proportions on my own body, and to live my life in glamorous clingy black dresses that had netting shooting out at the ankles. Instead I graduated from high school, went to work the next day, and two years later I was married and was a mother at the ripe age of 20.

I was so clueless as to what to do with that first child that I phoned my mother-in-law at 4 am, our first night home together, crying and asking for help in burping this baby I was terrified I'd break. I thought I was ready to raise her because we'd set up a crib and changing table, purchased white cotton diapers and a rocking chair. I'd guess I had maybe a dozen changed diapers under my belt by then. Babysitting paid 50 cents an hour and I'd rather be home reading a book.

So the thought or inclination of being a mother was just the next thing that would happen and it did. And I've now been a mother as long as Jesus walked the earth, and I can barely remember a time when I wasn't someone's mama.

I didn't long for it, or look ahead to it. I certainly wasn't equipped or prepared for all it ended up being. For nights with high fevers, and waiting for the results of blood work, dealing with sassy children, standing there with that look of defiance on their face and hands on hips, for good grades when we ragged on them, and mediocre when we didn't, for liking our own children, but intensely disliking the friends they brought home much too often. For when their hearts were broken, and they didn't make the team, or didn't get invited, for late nights and the phone being tied up and the checkbook emptied out most of the time, in large part due to all the braces we paid for, knowing they still wouldn't brush as often as they should and would bite into corn nuts because they hadn't written any of the checks. Anything left over was spent during continual trips to the grocery store for junk food. They wouldn't eat the healthy stuff. We ate a lot of hot dogs and pizza back then. And they'd leave in our cars at night, and we'd know they'd drive too fast and careless and we'd lie down at night, trying not to think about it, and ask God to watch over them so we could get some much needed sleep. I sure wasn't equipped to watch them empty out their bedroom, then drive away to college, knowing they'd never really come back home.

But looking back over it, I know how truly blessed I am to have begun this journey so early. I really didn't know we'd be friends someday, after it was all said and done. There are deep, abiding friendships with each of my children, so I'm now watching them raise their children, who are getting old enough to play house or serve tea, all the while rolling gently along to the life God has in store for them.

My own mother was an even younger woman when she began, and if anyone understands how I'm feeling, it's her. I didn't look ahead to it, but I'm so thankful for the journey God had in store for me. A Happy Mother's Day indeed.


Sarah said...

Beautiful :)

Gretchen said...

Contented sigh.

I happen to love the fact that .50 wasn't that great a motivator to get you away from your books. :)


Wanita said...

Your post is wonderful, Bev.
Happy Mother's Day!


Barb said...

You captured everything that's wonderful about being a mother. But you also captured everything that's wonderful about being a little girl.

I don't remember you doing that with dishsoap bottles. How clever of you.

Happy Mother's Day to my favorite sister. xoxoxo

Dana~Are We There Yet? said...

Lovely, as usual.

It's hard to put into words how much I appreciate this glimpse into your mothering world. I feel like a founder a lot, and your words have inspired me.

Susanne said...

So beautiful! Happy Mother's Day to you, Bev!

Jen said...

Just wonderful....loved it.

Chris said...

I so appreciated this post! An honest look at how overwhelming mothering can be, yet what a blessing at the same time. Just like the saying, "Motherhood - the hardest job you'll ever love."

Renna said...

That was beautiful, Bev. It's pretty much how I'd sum up my own life if I were able to wax so eloquently as you! ;-)