Tuesday, June 13, 2006
I’m sitting here totally baffled by my inability to remember those maternal moments when my two kids really made me wish I had become a nun. I know there had to be some meltdowns, especially during the toddler and teen years, but frankly I can only remember two.
There was the incident with my son, during the heady independence of his second year, wanting to use my dad’s key to open the car door but shrieking and throwing a tantrum when he couldn’t succeed. He refused to give up the key. My dad, who loved taking care of his cars, realized at that moment that the key would probably be next used to run a large scratch across the outside finish. He got Joseph’s attention by whacking him once on the behind. Kid stopped screaming; pop-pop retrieved the key. No one reported us to DHS.
And then there was my sudden encounter with my teenage daughter who had just dyed her hair a bright orange or red. It was a shocker. “You look like a brick $hithouse” were the first words that came out of my gaping mouth. I honestly can’t remember if this was the time that I slapped her. She slapped me back. The air was cleared and life went on. Did we laugh after this attack on each other’s faces? I seem to think we did but I’m drawing a blank. I just know that we never laid hands on each other again in a moment of anger. The hugs definitely won in the long run.
This is what I do remember. Stuff like my best friend giving baby Jenn a “pony ride” down the hallway. I remember my dad carrying his first grandchild up and down the same hallway, singing Elvis Presley’s “Love Me Tender” to her as she fell asleep on his shoulder. I remember bathing new baby brother on the kitchen table, with big sister having an up-close-and-personal view of brother’s tool kit.
“What’s that, mommy?” said the alert Jennster at my side.
“Joseph is a boy. Boys have a penis. And girls have a vagina.”
There you go! It came out quite naturally and I felt proud of myself. A teachable moment.
Jenn went running down the hall, excited to tell the world about her newfound discovery.
“Joseph has a peanut and I have a ‘gina!”
Who could forget the Animal Olympics? The two kids had so many stuffed toys. My mom contributed to the menagerie by crocheting even more. Sometimes I couldn’t find them in their sleep because the beds were covered with their cuddly friends. During what must have been an Olympic year, we held an Olympiad of our own in the hallway. We took turns throwing the different critters down the hall and measuring the distance each one flew. A gold, silver and bronze medal were duly awarded.
I remember our imaginary campouts in living room and bedroom. I would pull a blanket or mom's afghan over us as the tent. We would picture a campfire and roast pretend marshmallows and tell stories. That was always fun.
I remember helping Jenn write her first book. She was about ten years old. It was to be called The Kingdom of Ugly about a land where misshapen and misbegotten people and animals lived and where they came to find, because of the goodness of their king and queen, that being different was not ugly but beautiful indeed. I illustrated some of our story and we have yet to finish the book. It’s still a work in progress. I hope we do complete it for Sophie and Hannah, Ben and Olivia.
I remember Joseph getting a set of drums for his fourth birthday. Mr. Cool, playing alongside his dad on guitar and me on the organ. And Jenn taking music lessons and amazing me when she started playing Bach, keyboard and pedalboard (better than I).
I remember teaching Joseph how to pitch a baseball and making up imaginary call signs as I played catcher. I remember signing him up for a junior bowling league and soccer too; getting up before 6:00am to drive him to early mass so he could serve as altar boy.
I remember Jenn not being tested in grade school for “a special program”. I investigated and found out that only little boys were being tested for the “gifted program”. I was furious. I made some noise and Jenn got a chance to participate as well as the other girls in the grade. Of all the kids who started with the program, Jenn stayed with it from middle school into high school. She won science awards throughout. So much for not testing the girls.
These kinds of memories just pop up when I think of raising my kids. I hope I’m not in the minority, but the good moments continue to outweigh the bad. I was … I am so blessed.