Recalling my first Mothers Day, I remember how frightened I was. My son was two months old and I was afraid he would “spit up” on someone in a nice, black suit or dress. He did. Me.
That same son has never missed a Mothers Day with me, even driving from Austin, Texas to do so.
I learned the dark clothing rule that seems to be built into every newborn seems to have variables. I have a nightshirt with stains from all four grandchildren who baptized the moose on its front. It’s white, but the moose is dark. My first granddaughter died at the age of 20 months and that stain is precious.
The middle son benefited from my experience in the 18-odd months between his birth and that of my first adventure and he learned the meaning of “that look,” given instead of spanking when he had transgressed.
He has given me three amazing grandchildren and once observed I let them get away with things that he and his brothers would have been “killed” for.
I admit it. Sometimes I am a willing accomplice.
The youngest boy alleges that he had it the hardest. He probably did in that I wanted control of the household.
He is also four years less one month younger than his elder brother and generally followed his lead. He knew how to get past mom.
Mom knew what he was doing but unless someone was lying dead, bleeding profusely or in jail, let most of it pass by.
As an only child, I took parenting classes soon after the youngest learned how to feed himself without throwing food at the wall.
I had complained to the Head Start psychologist that my sons seemed to hate one another, since they were at war most of the time.
He asked my birth order. Was I the eldest, middle or youngest sibling? “I am the only,” I began. His brows rose.
“What you are witnessing is normal sibling rivalry,” he said. “There are free parenting classes available. Please enroll.”
I did and my real education took place out of the classroom when I tried to apply what I had learned at home.
My mom did the same thing. Enrolling in college at age 60 after my father died, she took abnormal psychology. Each week, she diagnosed me with a new syndrome.
When she declared that I was a manic-depressive schizophrenic with low impulse control, I went to talk with her professor, Buddy Edelen. We became good friends and mom stopped psychoanalyzing me.
Buddy is gone, now and I miss being able to telephone him and talk about the grandkids.
He moved to Oklahoma shortly after appearing in “Bye, Bye Birdie” with the Adams State theater department and answered one of complaint phone calls with a song: “Kids! I don’t know what’s wrong with these kids today! Kids! Why can’t they be like we were, perfect in every way? What’s the matter with kids today?”
Whatever was bothering me dissolved in laughter.
Looking back, I realize that one of the keys to motherhood and grandmotherhood is laughter. If nothing was changed dramatically and the priceless vase didn’t break when it was knocked off the table, laugh about it.