Thursday, January 13, 2011

A rather serious post

I’ve been thinking about this post for some time now, but didn’t know if there was really a point in writing it because it contains no pictures of Miles. I’m not even sure that I know how to write an entry without pictures anymore. I’m am, however, pretty sure that I have a serious case of  what I like to call “mommy brain,” meaning I find myself searching for words more, making silly mistakes, etc. I don’t know if there is a scientific reason or if it’s just because I am still getting up one, two, or three times at night.

A good friend of mine had a “Holiday Book Swap” party in December. No, we did not trade copies of How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Elf on a Shelf with each other, but instead we all brought one of our favorite books and did a white-elephant style swap. A great majority of us were English teachers, and those that weren't were well-read, so there were some good books. I ended up with Half Broke Horses by Jeanette Wells. This is the true story of the author’s maternal grandmother who grew up on a ranch in Arizona and then spent the majority of her life teaching in one-room school houses in rural Arizona, working a large cattle ranch with her husband, and raising two kids. I found myself absolutely amazed at the life she led and how vastly different is than my life. This book was apparently the author’s second book, her first being her own memoir, The Glass Castle. I read both books rather quickly because they were so good. So quickly that Chris was frustrated that I didn’t give him time to buy the second one to put in my stocking.

The Glass Castle is what really made me think about parenthood. Wells truly had a remarkable upbringing, one I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Her parents were so irresponsible, often doings things that made me want to cry for their children that were forced to take care of themselves (and sometimes their parents) from very young ages.

But what it really made me think about is the strength of the parent-child relationship. Once the children were grown, they all moved to New York and were later followed by their parents who then lived mostly on the streets or squatting in run-down buildings. But their children did everything they could to help their parents. And that’s what amazed me. In my eyes, their parents did not deserve to even have relationships with their children because they had done so little for them. But perhaps I only feel this way because my parents were (and are) great parents. I, of course, would do everything to help my parents if they needed my help because I am in debt to them for so many things.

And then I watched an episode of my guilty please, Hoarders, last week that made my jaw drop. The woman on this episode was hoarding lots of trash and lots of animals. She had chickens living in rubbermaid tubs with grates over the top but never cleaning out their droppings, so the poor chickens were being squashed. She apparently had 10 children that had all been removed from her home when they were younger because she was abusive and neglectful. But it was two of her daughters that wanted to help their mother. They didn’t want to see her go through another winter without heat. They didn’t want to see her living in such squalid conditions because they love her when as far as I could tell, she didn’t deserve love.

Now that I am a mother, I am always wondering how my children will view their own childhoods. Will they see me as a good mother? What will they remember? I just don’t want my children to ever have to explain to others why they love me when in others’ eyes I may not deserve it. I want them to grow up in a home that is comfortable and nourishing. I want them to thrive in an environment that fosters creativity.

And now I don’t know how to end this. I wish I had a recent picture of Miles to include. Let me do some searching. Not recent, but will still do.

Santa Bag 004

At least Miles can tell people that his mom let him eat Christmas trees.

The End.


Kimba said...

I wonder this, too! And I'm currently reading a book called My Name is Mary Sutter, and she's this midwife during Civil War times. Consequently, she was gone a lot as laboring mothers needed her. Her husband was this railroad guy and often had to leave for long stretches too. One morning he got word that she'd be home in half an hour, but he needed to be at the train station then as well. He figured his two sleeping twins would be fine in their crib, the other two kids still groggy as well, but again, she'd be home soon. Well, the mother didn't return until the evening because the laboring mother started bleeding and when she got back she found her kids covered in tears and snot and soaked with urine. All day long they'd been left alone. I've had nightmares about it since!! She said she never trusted leaving her husband with them after that, and insisted on bringing all her kids with her when she went to deliver.

Anyway. All this to say, I've been thinking a lot about it too. Kindof surreal knowing we're really in charge of these kids and their upbringing!

Erin said...

I read The Glass Castle a number of years ago and really hated it. I hated it because I was so disturbed and mad at the parents. Especially because it wasn't a work of fiction!

I appreciate your thoughts on being a good mother and wondering how your children will view you and their childhood. I have the same concerns. I hope my children will remember the good things and not just the times I lose my temper.