Friday, May 07, 2010
Preparing for Mothering
I think I started getting ready to be a mother at a very early age. Of course, being the eldest of 5 was a large factor. I don't think I was much help to my mom at first, though, since my sister was born two weeks (to the day) before my first birthday, and our first brother was here 13 months later. But by the time #2 brother came when I was 5, perhaps I was able to help a bit. More later about my youngest brother, who was born when I was 10.
I love this picture of me looking adoringly at my doll - definitely not a baby doll, but loved indeed as perhaps a toddler.
A bit older, the same look of love for a new baby doll -- sorry, Brother B, it seems you are waiting in vain for a ride in that wagon.
My sis and I had a great time playing Mommy. We probably did it with real babies, too, but I mostly remember playing dolls. We had so much fun changing their clothes, feeding them, putting them to bed. We also had many paper dolls and working with their beautiful wardrobes was such fun. We never had Barbies, and I never got them for Kristen - I didn't like their bodies, and their clothes and shoes were just way too tiny. (Her girls have so many of that type of dolls and most of them are undressed most of the time - point taken.)
One of my most vivid memories - we weren't allowed to take our dolls to church, though we desperately wanted them to be there - I'm sure it was for the spiritual training they would have received ;-) But "no" meant "no", so we improvised. We had no nursery or children's church in those small congregations. We would stack two hymnals beside us, then take a third one, open the front cover so that it was leaning against the back of the pew, and pretend it was our child (are you envisioning this scenario?) Then we would spend the service patting them, shushing them, sometimes probably paddling them a bit. I'm not sure how much we actually got out of Dad's sermon - in fact, I'm wondering how our mom got anything out of any service with 5 kids and no nursery or children's church!
I was 10 years old when my youngest brother was born. I wanted him to be a girl, so that the girls would outnumber the boys. But, alas, it was not meant to be. I remember going for a long walk and pouting the day he was born. But how wrong I was - he was so much fun and we all spoiled him rotten. I spent a lot of time caring for him when Mom and Dad went calling on parishioners. We had a special bond - he didn't like it, though, when he got older and I would tease him that I used to change his diapers.
Interestingly, and ironically, I did not enjoy babysitting at all. I liked and needed the money, but just wanted to be home in my own house. My sister often ended up winning my sitting jobs away from me - I would ask if she could sub for me if I had something else going on when the mom called. They would never call me back - she was much better at playing with them while I wanted them to go to bed so I could read! In college, I decided taking babysitting jobs from people I didn't know wasn't a great way to spend an evening. That was when I began typing papers for people instead - a skill I was much better suited for.
I doubt that any of this playing with dolls really prepared us for the hard work that is motherhood. But I do know that I was eager to be a real live mom. Mothering is probably one of the very hardest jobs in the world, and it doesn't end when they go away, as all of you know.
But I want to wish all of you a very Happy Mother's Day! May all of your good memories inhabit this week-end of celebration for this "job" God has given us.
NOTE: Tonight (Friday) our Cambodian family, which I wrote about HERE, is flying in to spend the week-end with us. What a wonderful blessing, and I will definitely be sharing our adventures with you next week.