The excavation of boxes over the last weeks and months has re-acquainted me with several pieces of memorabilia. A new weekly feature will be a commentary on an artifact from my far distant past called “Memory Mine”.
Today I want to tell you about my mother’s baby shower photo album and where it took my mind and heart as I turned its pages. I promise they will not all be as heavy as this (or as long).
I came to a startling realization some time around my 38th birthday. I am officially older than my mother was when she gave birth to her 4th and final child…me.
Even more startling is the truth that I am not a mother.
Most women I know grew up dreaming about the future and what it would look like; their dashing husbands, their magnificent homes, their high paying careers. They dreamt of how many children they would raise, their names. Did they have their mother’s eyes, their father’s hairline?
I spent countless hours imagining camping trips and study nights. I had conversations with them in my head about cleaning their rooms or obeying curfew. I told them how I had to take three buses and a train through the mean streets of Philadelphia to get to and from school. (My personal ‘through the snow – up hill both ways’ lament) Great memories, but I would have milked it for all it was worth!!
The number of children varied as often as my hairstyle or my mood. I wanted my own baseball team. I wanted an only child. I wanted all boys. I wanted no boys. I wanted to have a multiple birth, get it over with in one shot. I had twin friends at church and in high school and I always thought it was fascinating to watch them interact with one another. I often wished I had been a twin.
I digress. The point is, I am now older than my mom was when she had me and I am childless. Why? Only God knows the real answer to that question. I dare not even speculate. I would most likely be wrong anyway and I look forward to asking the question someday in person. I can wait for the answer.
Looking through my mother’s memory book from what seems such a happy time is equally heart warming and heart wrenching. I love seeing mom so vibrant, young and radiant. She is beaming in every shot. I enjoy seeing her with her son, my youngest big brother, opening gifts and -no doubt- wondering about all the changes to come into the house and into their relationship because of my arrival. I am blown away at how charming and beautiful my family looks; mom’s sisters and one of her brothers, my grandmother. Grammom wore a fabulous early ‘70s yellow polyester dress and smiled from ear to ear. Another grandchild! Daddy … oh how I miss you. Excitement fills the pages.
Look at all I’ve missed out on in my own adult life.
The photos show the strain of time and poor handling. (Why oh why did we EVER think it was ok to scotch tape pictures to pages!! The scrap booking diva in me cringes to look at the damage it caused. I am transferring everything into a new photo safe album.) The faces are a part of my history, my story. What will my legacy be? Why is it so tough on this woman’s heart to live without having had a child of her own?
My emotions about being a mom – having and raising children, are honestly just as fluctuating as they ever where. The reasons for the back and forth these days have more to do with time management and enjoying the ability to essentially do what I want when I want without having to consider the kiddos.
But when the clock ticks loudly in my ear I feel a twinge of sadness that is so deep I know it has left a permanent mark on my soul. Who is going to remember me when I was vibrant, young and happy? Who is going to take care of me in my old age as I have watched my mom, aunts and uncles, cousins do for their parents? As I have done.
I rejoice with friends as they grow their families and I am thrilled to be an aunt to the most fabulous groups of kids! I have a long history of providing child care for a living throughout the years. The bond I share with some of those children is strong and lasting.
S and I have talked about foster care or adoption. It’s not off the table. I know that this is a highly transitional year for yours truly. Mayhaps I am just laying some much-needed and long overdue ground work before bringing new lives into our little world. Who knows?
In the mean time, I give a mommy an afternoon break and I play with her little ones. They make me laugh. They make me scold. They wrap their tiny arms around my neck. I close my eyes and feel a calming peace. My influence in the lives of the children around me is hopefully a positive one. I want to be a role model, a confidant, a support as they navigate this world. I settle into my place in the village helping to raise the next generation. Then I go home to enjoy a quiet cup of tea in front of the computer screen and type it all out, smile, and do a little dreaming about the future…