It’s That Troublesome Time of Year Again: Mothers Day Approaches
I don’t care much for children. I don’t like babies all that much either.
I thought I’d just open with that and get it off my chest. I’m 71 years old; neither of the children I birthed, both now in their 40’s, have procreated and I am pleased. I would make a crap grandmother.
Let me get this straight, I loved my children. Prior to my first marriage, I’d been dead set on not having children at all, having been the oldest of 11 and, by default, the one in charge when my parents took off on weekends, which they did on a regular basis. I’d had enough of children and I’d told my first husband that prior to our marriage, so he’d know what he was in for. But at the time he had no idea that his upcoming marriage would be headed straight to hell because of my hideously promiscuous behavior which I seemed to have virtually no control over at the time.
In an attempt to save the marriage from my inability to control myself I unilaterally decided to get pregnant. After all, I’d figured, if I had a kid, I’d pretty much have to stay home and take care of the baby and that would be that… and it was. It was the perfect cure; it was so perfect that I decided I wanted more children, four more to be exact. I clearly just needed to be kept busy. Never got past two, though, because husband caught on to the fact that I was trying to get pregnant and stopped the whole thing right there, claiming that the children had ruined ‘his’ marriage. Ha! They’d saved it; but he’d find that out later, when the kids got older and went to school and I was, once again, left with time on my hands and a working automobile.
I adored my children. I had never loved anyone more nor had I ever felt more love from anyone then I felt from my children. The experience, to my delight, had turned out to be completely different from caring for my siblings. And, of course, my children’s mere presence was keeping me home and therefore, in line.
I didn’t used to like women much either. However once a variety of life-threatening and life-changing experiences transformed who I was, I began to appreciate women more. I began to ‘get’ them because I had begun to get me and why I was how I’d been, promiscuity-wise. But I was still not that woman that you could turn to and say, “Would you hold my baby for me?” Because, no, I wouldn’t and, no, I still won’t. I just don’t respond to babies in the same way that most women do. I know it sounds dreadful, but I respond to small animals way more than I respond to babies. The “oooo-ing” and “aahh-ing” that generally accompanies the appearance of a baby in a room full of women will never include me.
I don’t know why I am this way, but I have my suspicions.
I didn’t have what you might call a good mother; I’m not sure she was even an acceptable mother by most standards. I have siblings (who seem to have forgotten that I ever had anything to do with them when they were infants) who look at our mother as one might look upon the Madonna. They did not have the mother I had; my mother had sold me out — to a couple of different markets — and then, also, left me in charge of her offspring on a pretty regular basis. That might have had something to do with my dislike for wee folk but I couldn’t say for sure because, when it came to my kids, I loved them like crazy and I took really good care of them. Maybe that was just biology at work but it was also especially important to me to take really good care of them precisely because I had not been well cared for myself and I knew what that felt like.
When, ultimately, the children were old enough to go to school and I was still young enough to get in trouble again… and did with some frequency… their father and I ended up divorced and I lost custody because I caved in to his threats about what he would tell the children about me if I insisted on custody; I was afraid they would hate me forever because I was, after all, a horrible person.
Thus it is that every year at about this time, with Mother’s Day on the horizon, this whole business of mothers and babies and children bubbles up to the surface of my consciousness and makes me wonder for a little bit — albeit not too long — why it is that when I see a car with a bumper sticker that says “Ask me about my grandchildren,” I get as far away as I can from that car. I don’t want to know about their grandchildren; I don’t want to see their pictures. I’m sure the grandchildren are adorable and I can imagine how the grandparents must love them because I have, in my day, loved two children very much… but I have to tell you, I love my children way more now that they are grown than I even did when they were children, and that was a lot. I can relate to them now; I can speak with them as equals; we have fabulous conversations. They are grown-ups… and I’m just fine with grown-ups… as long as they don’t trot out their children and expect me to fuss over them.