Is There Really Life After Childbirth?

Archive for the ‘memoirs’ Category

There’s nothing that wakes you up before your first morning cup of coffee quite like walking past a news stand on your way to work and seeing your son’s picture on the front page under the banner ‘STAYING IN TULSA JAIL’.  Luckily, he was wearing his uniform and sitting at his desk as the booking Sargent at the jail so I wasn’t too concerned.  I did get several emails from friends commenting on how nicely he had ‘turned out’.  Needless to say, it was one of those days that made motherhood worth its weight in Valium.

Which, of course, led me to reminising about my rules for raising children.  I’ve received many requests for those rules and thought it only fair to share them with the world.  So, without further ado, my top five rules for raising good kids.  P.S.  I can’t guarantee that these will work on girls, since I was blessed with boys  (see memoirs Chapter 1).

1. Tell them it is against the law for children under 16 to order filet mignon in a restaurant.  This may not actually assist in their “goodness”, but it will help with the financing of bribes for good behaviour, etc.

2. Tell them it is against the law to marry until they have graduated from college.   This allows them time to mature a bit before choosing their mate and actually helps them to find someone with a degree and a good chance of being able to support them after they graduate.  This leads to a sub-rule.

2.a.  If they pick a great girl, tell them that they have to stay married, because you will be keeping her if they ever split up.

3.  Make them pay for their own car insurance.  That ensures that they will have to pay when their rates go up because of tickets, accidents, etc.  

4. Tell them you don’t do bail money.  This, however, can backfire should you ever require bail assistance from them in the future.

5. Pray daily that God will help you do whatever it takes to raise them right and get through the day without having to kill any of them.  OK.  Looking back, this is probably the only rule that actually works.

I’m thinking I’ve spent 72% of my life in a car.  First it was T-ball, wrestling, soccer.  In high school we toured the state for football games, band competitions, soccer.  College was more of the same, from one end of Highway 51 (OSU) to the other (NSU) and points in between (TU).  I thought the 20 minute drive to work for 20 years was quite a commute until we moved to the lake and I had a 30 minute drive to work.   Well, you have to amuse yourself somehow.  Here are some of the skies I noticed along the way.  I hope you enjoy the view!

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I can still remember the skeptical eye-rolling, head-shaking reaction I had when those “old-fogeys” lamented the end of letter writing. They felt that email had taken all of the personalization out of communication. What did they know? You were still communicating and you could do it faster than ever. It wasn’t until I became an old fogey myself, that I began to see their point.
So many of the things I took for granted that my children and their children would do in life have fallen by the wayside. Not all of these are bad. I love that you don’t have to iron anymore (although I am so proud of my wall-hiding ironing board, that I still force guests to check it out). I have even accepted those annoying phones attached to our bodies, since they have kept me from having a couple of false alarm heart attacks on more than one occasion. It’s the things that I never really thought about that I miss the most.
I never thought I would lose my job to people on the other side of the world. Luckily, my kids have adapted to that problem and are finding jobs in industries that still require a human presence. How long that will last remains to be seen. They don’t have careers anymore. The thought of staying with one company from beginning to end doesn’t happen very often. I can live with that.
The problem is…they don’t have fun at work anymore.
When I first went back to work (when my kids were in grade school), we still had pot lucks, Christmas lunches, surprise birthday cubicle decorating parties and all sorts of foolishness that is just not done in the corporate world today. Did we not get our work done? Yes, we did! And I didn’t have the overwhelming sense of doom creep up on me every Sunday night that I seem to experience today.
I will never forget my first attempt as a working mom to show how adept I was at running a home and having a career. We were having a pot luck luncheon and I was bringing a black forest cake. A homemade black forest cake. I was pretty happy with the results, too. Two layers of chocolate gooey goodness with cream and cherries perched on top…it was perfection. I wrapped it in Saranwrap (who had cake carrriers back then when we really needed them!) and placed it in the front seat of the car. I herded all the boys and their school paraphernalia into the back seat. Just as I began to back the car out of the driveway – whoosh – here comes a baseball glove flying over the seat and landing right smack dab in the middle of my cake.
I was too stunned to be mad. Why on earth would a kid throw his ball glove into the front seat? He had never done that before (or since, I might add)! Turns out, he didn’t know why either. It just seemed like the thing to do.
Well, I had no backup plan, no time for extra stops at the store. I dropped kids off at school and proceeded to work with my now deflated cake. I debated even taking it in, but for some strange reason decided to go ahead. The really interesting part? There was not one crumb left on the plate after lunch. It seems people at work will eat anything with chocolate on it, too, especially if there is a good story involved. And we laughed for years about the “puddle” cake I took to work.
Twenty years later, I’m back working for the same company. They don’t do lunches anymore. They don’t throw baby or wedding showers. They don’t have Christmas parties or dress up for Halloween. How sad is that? Now we get corporate emails wishing us a happy and safe holiday season. And the really bad part? None of them will ever get to taste one of my famous homemade black forest puddle cakes. Which is probably just as well, I don’t seem to remember how to cook anymore anyway!

Like the heavily coated bedroom furniture, the rocking chair has been a chair of many colors.
My first recollection involves “rocking” on MaMa and PaPa’s front porch watching traffic and swatting skeeters. At that time there were a couple of chairs and they held no special significance to me except for the opportunity they provided for the grownups to watch us kids climbing antenna wires, hanging from tree limbs, and catching fireflies.
Catching fireflies is a wonderful outdoor sport spoiled only by the combined activity of “chigger” collecting. The later collection could only be accomplished by bare skin, preferably tender young ankles, being directly exposed to grass. I take that back. You could actually have chiggers tasting your skin simply by looking at grass. Even if you wear a full set of body armor, somehow they know that dinner was out there somewhere and by employing transportation methods that are the envy of any Star Trek or Wars fan could be teleported from the “lawn” to your legs. NASA should investigate this phenomenon.
The chair was originally obtained to rock baby Cracker, a fact I did not uncover until I was using it to rock baby Justin. I knew that I had been rocked in it as a baby, because there is a picture of me and MaMa rocking away.
I painted the chair a couple of times to match whatever room it occupied and eventually restrung the seat. It has had chair pads, colorful throws, and several contented, lazy cats for decorations throughout the years, but it doesn’t seem to mind sitting alone on its new front porch waiting for the next grandbaby to get it rocking again.
P.S. I wrote this several years ago, prior to baby Ethan and baby Ryleigh. It’s time to get busy and dust that chair!
P.S.S. Why are my ankles suddenly itching?????

When I was in the sixth grade, I moved from sharing a bedroom the size of a walk-in closet with two younger brothers to my own spacious penthouse apartment. OK. It wasn’t exactly a penthouse apartment, but it might as well have been as far as I was concerned.
After years of sharing a pathway that connected my parent’s bedroom and the single solitary bathroom (containing one of the two closets in the entire house), I thought I had hit the proverbial big time. The only storage space I had during my formative years existed under my bed. We had a single dresser that I had to share with my brothers and I tried all sorts of plans and schemes to make them keep their “stuff” off of my portion of the floor. As do most well-laid plans, these were all destined to backfire one by one.
There was the “plant the evidence” plan where I stuffed a cake batter-covered dish towel under their bed. It wasn’t found for about 3 years and was stiff enough by then to be used to patch the roof. The fact that neither one of them ever actually stirred cake batter (thereby providing an opportunity to drop a dish towel into it) was not lost on my mom.
Perhaps the worst backfire was the “tie the pajamas in knots if they’re ever left on the floor”. Yep, you guessed it. I was the first offender. So I guess, in reality, that plan could have been a success if I hadn’t gotten mad and canceled it.
So you can imagine my excitement when I was able to have my very own full-sized room complete with its own closet (and only one entrance so I never had to be the victim of any drive-by incidents that had plagued my past).
My great-grandfather was in the process of downsizing (he didn’t realize it at that time…back then it was just called “moving to a smaller house”) and my grandmother gave me her mother’s prized three piece bedroom set from The Room No One Was Allowed to Enter (MaMa actually said it like that, like it was all capital letters). The black oak four poster bed, vanity and chest of drawers probably weren’t considered antiques at that time (after all this was a loooonnng time ago), but I’m sure purists would have fainted at my plan to make this a replica of the white bedroom set I’d seen in a catalog somewhere. So I proceeded to put about 30 coats of white paint on it (twenty or so more were added throughout the years) and replace the handles with delicate white and gold pulls. I was enthralled. I was finally a princess.
I redecorated MY bedroom every few years, always being careful to pick a shade of paint that would highlight that bedroom suit. Pale green was probably the most successful. It’s actually back in style again now. The worst was the peach that ended up so orange and bright that it caused many a parent to stop and try to turn the light off when they passed my door. I also vowed never to store anything under the bed again. This promise provided my dad with a place to hide from my mom when she was in her “I think you need a B-12 shot” mood. That vow has also gone by the wayside, since it is now considered trendy to store stuff under your bed. They even make special boxes for it. If only I had realized how far ahead of my time I was, I could probably be the CEO of The Container Store instead of one of their best customers.
My bedroom suit and I traveled the country…from Olustee to Sapulpa to Las Vegas and back to Sapulpa. On its last journey (to my dream home on the lake), I decided it wanted to be free of its many coats of history. Fifteen cans of paint stripper later, all of the white paint has been removed and it sits proudly in all its grandeur in my guest room today just waiting for its new little princess.
After
OK, boys. No fighting over who gets to inherit the ratty old bedroom suit from mom now that you know its provenance (HA…I bet you never thought I would be able to use that word in a sentence!)

My future was shaped by two grandmothers as different in style as they were in appearance.
My father’s mother, Grannie, was tiny, weighing 100 pounds only if she were holding a ten-pound turkey. For most of her life, she had waist length black hair with only a few silver strands that she could comb, braid, and wrap in a bun without looking in the mirror. She raised four sons and ruled the roost with a peach tree switch (the worst kind, so I’m told!) Years later, the “boys” towered over her but still cowered in fear of incurring her wrath. Yet she managed to instill in each of them a love of family and childhood they carried with them throughout life. It was many years before I realized not every ones dad played hide-and-seek, commandeered the basketball court (surrounded by bouncing, screaming children wanting their turn), and hogging the Christmas toys Santa left every year.
Grannie’s primary diet consisted of Pecan Sandies and RC Cola. She is the one who actually coined the mantra, “All I am or ever will be, I owe it all to RC.” We were never able to convince the company to use her as their spokes model.
I remember sitting on her couch eating a box of chocolate covered cherries (she always kept a new box for me) pouring over the Sears and Roebuck catalog. I would carefully decorate and furnish my future home and then choose a lavish wardrobe for my family. It was during one of those visits that she remarked, “I think you’ll have a bunch of kids and they’ll all be boys.” I didn’t realize then, but “bunch” was the key word, as in “several items grouped together.” At the time I picked up on the word “boys.” I thought this over and decided she was probably right. I began crossing off the frilly satin and lace dresses. I probably would have crossed them off at some point anyway. After all, it is difficult to play basketball wearing four petticoats and a pair of patent leather shoes. It can be done, by the way, but no one will give you overs if you slip in the gravel.
My maternal grandmother, MaMa, was big and funny and always on the go. She never missed a “trip into town” or a chance to stop somewhere for a hot fudge sundae. (Is it any wonder I can’t get enough chocolate in my life!) Visits to her house were loud and fun and filled with great food and cousins.
She had the most infectious laugh and we were always trying to be the one that brought it out. No joke was too old or told too often for her. To this day, I don’t know how she could still laugh after the 114th rendition of catching a squirrel by climbing a tree and acting like a nut.
She was the one who told me I would have twins. At least she had the good sense to wait until I was pregnant to make that announcement. Otherwise, who knows what different course history might have taken.