After four hours of fishing HARD in the rolling waves and brisk breezes, “getting skunked” is very hard to swallow.
If it hadn’t been for this fellow, I would have gotten the skunk. today.
With the catching so slow, I decided at noon to give my arms a rest, grab my lunch, and just vegetate for a while and see where the current might take me. I rarely take time to just sit and cogitate any more. I guess life spins way too fast most of the time for that to happen.
Feeling like something, maybe life, has sucked the creativity right out of my bones, I just wanted to reflect. Reflection is good, right?
With so many things pulling at my time these days, I pause to think about those things that matter most in life. Immediately my children come to mind, quickly followed by the thought that they haven’t mattered most for the past year or so. Yet, when I think back on my years as a stay-at-home mom, they were my happiest and very fulfilling.
I had lived over a quarter century before my first child was born. She was wanted, desired, anxiously awaited. I fell in love with her the moment I saw her, and that love has only grown deeper. I wondered early on if I could ever love another child as much as I loved her.
I could. And I did, over and over again for many years.
Pregnancy, childbearing, and child rearing were things I could do very well. And in so doing, I found that my life was full to the point of bursting at times. My kids will tell you that I was tough on them–a very strong disciplinarian. Even now when I hear a tired, hungry infant crying or a toddler pitching a tantrum in a store, I always think the same thing: None of my children EVER behaved that way in a store. And the second thought is: Someone needs to spank that mommy.
And it’s a big deal, being a good mom. We lived so far down the bayou, and money was so tight, that I planned monthly menus and shopped for groceries once a month. Try that with 3 children under 5 in tow. But they helped. They always put away the groceries. Even as toddlers, they folded the wash cloths to help with the laundry. By the time they were 10, they were washing, drying, folding and putting away their own.
It was hard when The Captain was first laid off boats, and we had two babies. He took a land job that paid much less than what he had been making. And then before health insurance could kick in, we were being blessed again. Oh, didn’t you know? Children are a blessing. Who was I to say, “No thanks! No more blessings for me!”?
Maybe my children tired of hearing their mother say “No, we can’t afford it.” So one day I quit qualifying the no’s and tried to say yes to everything I possibly could. I wondered today while drifting, now that my children have their own bills to pay, if they realize that we did all we did on $1800 a month? Including a house note.
My children swam in Lake Michigan, walked on the edge of the Atlantic, swam in the aqua-blue waters of the Florida gulf, and were splashed by Shamu in San Antonio. They’ve been to the top of the state capitol, played inside fire trucks, been to the zoo, and camped overnight in vans, tents and boats. They’ve seen the Smoky Mountains, tubed down an ice cold mountain spring, and hand-fed bison and giraffes.
They’ve seen how Louisiana rice is made, and chewed cane straight from the field. They’ve crossed paths with water moccasins big around as rats and dreamed while coy-dogs yipped in the distance. They’ve roasted hot dogs and marshmallows on fires they gathered the wood for and started themselves. They’ve fallen off bicycles, broken teeth, and flown out of go-carts, hiding their skinned knees from me. They’ve hunted and fished, knee boarded, and marched in a parade. They’ve made their own zip-line and run their 3-year-old brother down it, causing my heart to skip a beat.
They’ve mowed grass, gathered eggs, and jumped off the roof onto the trampoline–just once. They’ve tended bee hives and been stung. They’ve raised rabbits, picked figs and dewberries, and been in 4-H. They’ve played softball, baseball, basketball, piano, flute, drums, guitar, and video games.
My kids have fought with each other, but seldom within earshot of me. They learned quickly to solve their own issues, because they certainly did not want ME to get involved! Nor have we ever had bouts of “MOM, make him stop touching me.” They knew that if they ever called out “MOM”, it better be important. From the time they could talk, whining was neither encouraged nor tolerated.
The truth is, good parenting is hard work, yet parenting is the most fulfilling job I have ever had. I’m thankful that my husband worked so I could stay home. He opted out of the newest, latest, and greatest of everything so that I could stay home and invest myself in five little humans.
So why now, after such a rewarding job of 30 years, do I find myself downcast because I have no IRA, no 401K, and no resume`. By the world’s standards, I have no investments. Clear as the trees reflected on the water, my own reflections remind me that what I do have are five loving children, who have become amazing adults and teens.
With midlife comes a crossroad–a time to look back and look forward. Five years ago, I wasn’t ready for grandchildren. Truth be told . . . I haven’t wanted to hold an infant since my youngest left that phase. Now, I feel like I’m approaching the season of my life where I might be ready for a return on my investment.
However, if my children choose not to procreate, then I will be at peace with that choice. I do worry along with them about bringing children into such uncertain times.
I worry, too, about my son who is so busy spending his hard-earned money that he doesn’t take time to know himself, much less the people he spends his money on. And I worry about the son who is afraid he will never find an attractive mate who has maintained some sense of self respect and purity in this “show-as-much-flesh-as-you-can” society.
Then there is my teen-aged special son who, just like his normal counterparts, doesn’t like to hear me say “NO”. He wants to drive a car, like his peers. He wants to work at the grocery store, like his peers. I say yes as often as I can to balance out the no’s, but he asks for so little, how can I constantly deny him?
And then there’s the child that could be my grandson. He was a surprise baby. Not a mistake, mind you, just a nice, late-life surprise. He has gotten into more things in his short life than the other four put together. And that is no lie. He tries my patience. He makes me crazy. He wears me down. He gets away with murder. But for some reason, the Creator wanted him here, and for all the mischief, I love this last child as much as I do the rest. Ah yes, he keeps me young.
With grandchildren a future dream, a husband facing disability, and two sons still in school, my midlife crisis is a multidimensional one. For my peers who had to work or chose a career, retirement is at hand. Meanwhile, I’m wondering how I will provide for my family. Even so, while reflecting, I’ve taken time to count my blessings . . . there are at least five major ones.
I thank God for giving me such great kids. I thank goodness they still love me. I thank them for being here for me when I am down. Without their support, this crossroad would just be a “cross to bear” rather than a “road to choose”.
I just want to say to my children that I’m sorry for making you listen to me read the entire Little House on the Prairie series. I was hoping that somehow we might be moved to record in writing our adventurous lives for others to read a hundred years later, but it’s hard to imagine anyone would care, isn’t it?
What others consider mundane and less than, I consider challenging and greater than. I hope a little of that rubbed off over the years. It makes the lean times much more tolerable.
So only daughter, you bring me great joy, whether you choose to have children matters not to me. Oldest son, please settle down and meet Miss Right. And second son, please open your heart to the remote possibility of a girl whose self respect is still in tact. And special son, I’m afraid to let you go, so be patient with me. And baby son, don’t go too far when you leave this tyranny called the teens.
You are all worth more to me than any retirement plan!