Thinking about what I am thankful for today, as usual, I always think about motherhood. Coming from a big family and having one, I have heard everything rude you can imagine about having kids, including the perennial, ‘Don’t you know what causes that?’ Disgusting ignorance from idiot clowns. I’ve also been told I am a saint. I like that one. It tends to come from Catholics.
Believe me, I gave it great thought as a kid myself. I was a pseudo-parent my whole life. Gave up my childhood to feed, change diapers, bathe, dress and play with kids I did not bring into the world myself. My few belongings tended to get ruined or taken.
My time was very rarely my own. And I didn’t have much because at that time it was shared by many… what there was to share. I was Mom’s assistant when taking care of kids I also cooked for the whole bunch and represented us working in the snack shops for Little League Baseball for my brothers where I believe I invented and perfected the ‘Suicide’ soda drink.
That was so we could afford to put the boys in ball. A parent had to volunteer. That was me. Also pitched in subbing as an after school church teacher as soon as I graduated from that program, for Mom and then for her other teachers and worked in that program until high school graduation. Then there was the food co-op. Some of my siblings helped too. But so Mom didn’t have to go I did. Helped raise my sibs in so many ways, feeding cleaning, caring… So after giving the bulk of what free time I might have had growing up, to the care of other people’s children, why did I have my own and so many of them?
I decided when I was 13, 2 things. I decided to remain a virgin til marriage and to have a large family of children and kept those 2 goals til fruition. About the large family, no matter how hard Mom worked, I saw her face when her children excelled and did wonderful things and how impressed she was by them. She would throw her head back, wide-eyed and put her hand over her mouth in exclamation. If you saw her do it once, you know she did it consistently when impressed. Dad even caught it in a picture once when Derek came into the room Christmas morning in a new suit about 1972 I think. It was a memory burned in my mind for good. It embodied all that was surprising and good in parenthood.
As a parent you can work hard, unappreciated for long periods of time, even with aggressively ungrateful kids and keep doing your best, because they are your children. You brought them into the world and are committed to being the best parent you can. You are committed to keeping them safe, even from themselves. You teach them the fun things like walking and doing stairs and all the new words and phrases they will pick up. You guide them from their natural selfishness to how to be social, share and even watch out for others. Some are better at learning adopting an unselfish attitude than others, but you still work with them and patiently wait for them to get it. All along the way, you can choose to learn and improve as a parent for your kids.
When you have more than just one child, you hope they will appreciate the blessing of brothers and/or sisters. You hope they will understand the gift friendship, with someone from you family can be. They may have a different perspective on your family and even you, but the support from understanding, can be tremendous help. You hope when one is in trouble, the others will rush in with compassion, looking for ways to help, then do so. You hope that when one accomplishes something, the others will celebrate with them in various, non-illegal ways. You hope if one has an advantage, that will help another, it will be offered and used, without hesitation. You hope when mistakes are made, they are forgiven by the victim and not repeated, but amended, by the offender and forgotten and not brought up thereafter, by anyone else. You hope, that each will include one or more sibling in opportunities to spend time together and be thoughtful with each other. (Almost like how we treat the planet, gently.)
At least, that is how I feel as a parent. I gave birth to one son and committed to be his mother for the rest of his life. Then I did the same thing, 8 more times. I meant to have a large family. I believe that no matter what happens to each of us, we all have each other for love, support, understanding and to have fun with. As all my children have gotten older, I see interpersonal relationships developing, in all directions and it is fascinating and fun to watch. How fulfilling for me though, to be in the middle of all the goings on. To see the lives unfold and be part of the humor and successes. To help when needed, listening, dispensing perceived wisdom of experience, strategizing and receiving help when I need it too.
All in all, I have never regretted having one single kid, not ever, not even a little bit. The decision I made 45 years ago, still stands, no matter what. And as long as I am on this planet, in this lifetime, it will continue to stand. And, I might add, as my children draw others into this circle, named Team Cross a couple of years ago, the Cross Clan, as my Irish mind thinks of it, I can be mom to them too, if they want. It doesn’t detract from how I feel about my own kids, it adds to it.
Mother love is not a pie cut into so many pieces for each person. It is infinite and grows as needed, as much or more so than needed. There is plenty for all.
With all that has gone on with family crisis’, I’ve been thinking about how I feel about my children and kids in general and maybe this will give you a bit of an idea, why, at birthdays and holidays and all through the year, every year, I am so grateful for the honor of being a mother and doubt I will ever do anything, in my entire life, as noble, as being a mother to Jason, Trevor, David, Stephan, Alex, Tegan, Josh, Connor, Danica and their entourages and others who choose it, too. And my greatest gift to each of my children, since their collective births, is the gift of each other.
Originally Published on: Nov 28, 2009 @ 20:48