Saturday, February 03, 2007

Reflections

Reading Alissa's post from yesterday started me reflecting on what my life was like when I was her age. Aside from the fact that she has a job, and I was a stay-at-home mom, there were more similarities than differences. I hope she sees the similarities...

Alissa believes she was not cut out to be a mom and that she is basically a loner. I, on the other hand, grew up believing that the ultimate career for me would be a wife and mother. I was a child of the 50's, and that was the aspiration for many, if not most, of the girls of my generation. I went to college and got a degree so that I could have a respectable profession, but I always hoped that I would get married and settle down with a family, using my profession as a back-up in case I never got married. I did very well in college and graduated to become an elementary school teacher. Within 2 weeks, I was married. I taught in a middle school for three years to save enough money for a down payment on a house, and then I gratefully "retired" to become a housewife and mom. A year later, in 1974, Alissa was born. I hadn't been such great shakes as a middle school teacher, and I wasn't a very good housewife because as I've said before, I don't like cleaning much. But when I was pregnant with Alissa, I decided that a mother was what I was born to be. I eagerly anticipated her birth, which was two weeks late.

And then reality set in. Suddenly I was totally responsible for this little person. I was on call 24 hours a day. That was a heavy responsibility. It seemed that she wasn't much of a sleeper, and I spent a great deal of time taking care of her. And it just kept multiplying. In 1977, just as Alissa was developing a little bit of independence, along came Chip. In 1980, just as Chip was exiting the baby stage, along came Doug. By then we were living on a small farm in a small rural community about 40 minutes away from my parents and long distance calls from my mom's advice. I was a stay-at-home mom like I'd always wanted to be, and I was pretty isolated, too. It wasn't all I thought it would be. I had pictured myself as Harriet Nelson or June Cleaver, but I was never that wise or sweet. Mainly, my kids had only each other to play with, and they got on each other's and my nerves quite a bit. I tried to do interesting things with them, but they had very different interests, so that didn't always work. It was usually worst in the winter, when we were all cooped up in the house, and school was out for snow, which happens at the drop of a snowflake in our county. I was always surrounded by kids who were, like Alissa's, full of energy and questions. Soccer balls bounced off the walls, toys were scattered everywhere, and one was always complaining about the other two. They did have their own rooms, to which I sometimes sent them just so I could have a moment of peace, but they still got on my nerves. There were many, many times when I would just think, like the commercial said, "Calgon! Take me away!" A bubble bath in a tropical setting sounded great, but it never materialized. I was trapped in a pattern of early rising and child care and housework, and I felt that all I would like was just one afternoon of peace and quiet with nobody else in the house and no responsibilities. It rarely happened, but I reasoned that someday I would have that peace and privacy when they were all grown up. Then I went back to teaching, and the beat went on.

Well, the kids have all grown up and moved out, and I have retired again, but now I have the biggest kid of all here. He retired before I did, and he has no hobbies or places to visit, so he is always here and usually wanting my company. Lately, he has been somewhat of an invalid, too, and it's winter again. I find myself singing that old refrain: "Calgon! Take me away!" Just like before, it hasn't worked! Maybe some day... :)

4 comments:

Alissa said...

Well, you always seemed calm and content. From what I can remember, anyway. Perhaps my children will remember the same, true or not. Thanks.

Susie said...

Great post Nancy!
It's hard to feel validated when it's just lots of hard work in childcare and housework.
I enjoy being retired now. Bill has loads of hobbies and interests, as do I. The challenge is finding time to enjoy all of them. Guess there's only a subtle difference between "then" and "now" ...
:)

Kellie said...

Just think, tomorrow you can say Calgon, take me away! to the spa that is!! Sounds like just what the doctore ordered!

smilnsigh said...

Hello. I just came here, from.... Oh I lost track, from which blog I came. Bouncing around from blog to blog is so much fun.

You mentioned about college and I remembered that... When I went {and I graduated in 1958, so you can see, it was a _long_ time ago}, it was said that we went to college to get our 'MRS Degree.' :-) And that's what I did. Along with a teaching certificate, which I never used, I was married the fall of that year. :-)

Mine was "another world," so to speak. But I'd better not keep going on and sounding ... toooo old. ,-)

Have a lovely rest of the weekend.

'MN'