Friday, April 10, 2015

The Mother I Was and The Mother I Have Become

Have you ever heard the Indian fable about the seven blind mice and the elephant? Each of the mice explored a different part of the elephant and they each came away with a different description of the elephant. There was a moral to the story is a bit different than the moral to the story I want to tell today but the idea is somewhat the same. Ironically I have seven children in my story. I play the part of the elephant. Flattering, I know. 

All seven of my children would identify me as their mother. However, I am really not the same person to each one of them at all. If they were each asked to think back to their youngest memories and on into their elementary school years, they would have very different descriptions of their mother, yet they all had the same one. And if they were asked to describe the roles I play in their lives today, being all different ages, the descriptions would be vastly different.

My oldest four kids have memories of an energetic young mom who played kickball in the front yard, had Nerf gun wars, and could sit crossed-legged on the floor to dress a Barbie or build with Legos. They will remember a rule about movies. We only had G rated movies, no others were allowed. Their mom always seemed to have a toddler on her hip, and a baby on the way. She was always sleep-deprived and often grouchy because of it. The oldest would tell you that mom was strict and wanted to be obeyed immediately.  A clean house was very important to their mom and she cooked six nights a week.

The younger kids would probably listen to those stories and wonder just where their brothers and sisters had lived back then. These kids have never seen their mom kick a playground ball across the yard and run bases, shoot a Nerf gun, or sit cross-legged on the floor. The younger kids know an older mom who has issues with arthritis and moves pretty slow. They will remember a lot of nights when supper came from a can, a box, or a drive-thru window. And they will remember being able to watch a few PG rated movies while they were still in grade school. (Scandalous, I know.) Having an older mom is not the worst thing that could happen to a kid though. The younger kids will definitely remember a more patient mom who did not become stressed when the house was not clean or the kids did not obey the first time. Sure, I am the same person but… not really.

To two of my children I was a tutor and helped them with many of their assignments while the other kids will have little memory at all of mom sitting with them to do homework. It was not necessary. They managed quite well without help. Some of the kids loved to read and loved to be read to. Those children will recall lying in mom’s bed while she laughed hysterically at what Junie B Jones had just done. One of the boys was passionate about dinosaurs and he will remember that we spent a whole lot of time discussing those great beasts and trying to pronounce their names correctly. One of the girls was/is passionate about cows and tractors and we have spent many hours pouring over fun facts about farming and sitting at the cattle auction just for her pleasure.

The oldest children and the youngest two will remember a mom who volunteered in their classrooms in the primary grades and was often at the classroom parties. The children in the middle will not have those memories. The girls will remember a lot more play dates than the boys will as they played so quietly and did not require me to repair anything at the end of the day. The boys could definitely holler “discrimination” about this.

Five of the kids played baseball or softball in the summers when they were young and will have a picture in their mind of a mom in a lawn chair at practices, games, and tournaments. Two of the children will never associate their mother with a ball field at all. The oldest children will remember their mother having chickens that they had to help feed but not the younger ones. The older children will remember their mom taking them to swimming lessons but the younger children will remember a mom that taught them to swim in the pool we built in the backyard. Two of these kids might remember their mother with a joystick in her hand trying to learn to play video games. The rest of the children would say their mother had probably never held a joystick in her life. A couple of the children would remember a day their mother brought home eight different brands of hotdogs so they could have a blind taste test to settle a very important debate. Only one of the kids will have a memory of getting a pony on their birthday. That girl’s mom really came through for her!

All seven children will have some very similar memories. They will all be able to hear my voice in their mind, singing from the rocking chair. They will all remember their mom as their first Bible class teacher. They will all remember a mom who was crazy in love with their daddy.

I gave all seven children a good childhood but they did not all have the same childhood and I am learning to be okay with that. Not all my children had the same opportunity nor will they have all the same memories and has to be okay. I cannot recreate the older children’s childhood for the younger children, nor can I turn back the clock to make sure the older kids get every experience the younger children have now. Recently one of my oldest children returned home for a visit. He saw Lucky Charms in the pantry and did a double take. My rule for a lot of years was that I would not buy chocolate cereal or cereal containing marshmallows. He looked at me and said, “Mom. You’ve changed.” I said, “Yes. I have.”

I usually blog about autism or FAS but occasionally I like to talk about something else. If you liked this post then you might find the following to your liking as well. What Does A Good Mother Say?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this glimpse into your family's life at Faith, Hope, and Love! We seem to much in common. I had my first son at 17 and my 9th son at 43 with a couple of special needs kids in between. They all remember vastly different moms of their childhood too.