Friday, October 23, 2015

Mothers and babies

When I was single, I thought I wanted a dozen babies some day, and even had names picked out for all of them.  I wasn't an only child, but I was the youngest, and since my sister and brother were both gone by the time I was two, I was pretty much raised like an only child.  I always wished for a sibling near my age, but looking back, I don't imagine it would have worked out well.  Ah, but I was going to make up for it if/when I ever had a husband.  Twelve kids, count 'em.

I did find me a man (yee-haw!) and before our first anniversary I gave birth to a baby boy named after both our fathers.  I convinced my husband that no kid ought to be raised without a sibling (because look at me... see how self-centered I am?) and before our beautiful baby boy was two years old, we had a daughter.  

"Let's have another one," I said.  

"No way," my husband, the second-oldest of six kids raised in a poor family, answered.

I pouted, because hey, our babies were so cute.  Who doesn't love babies?

About the time my daughter was three, I started babysitting.  I babysat my nephew Chad, the easiest kid anybody ever took charge of.  Then I added Walt and Richard Earl, quite excellent kids.  So I had my kids and three others.  I was doing pretty good with that.  Then two more came.  

You've heard about the straw that broke the camel's back?  That did it.   It wasn't the kids, it was me.  After a few weeks I realized I had no business tending all these kids, and before long, I was done with babysitting and back to taking care of my own two, exclusively.  

Here's something interesting:  As much of a failure as I felt I was as a babysitter, both then and now, I have been amazed at the memories of the oldest of the two "straws that broke the camel's back", who is now a friend of mine on Facebook.  She remembers how I made home-made play-dough... she recalls that I made chocolate Malt-o-meal... bless her heart, she has good memories of the time she spent under my care.  

But I digress.  One day I woke up and realized I wasn't equipped to deal with a whole bunch of kids.  In fact, had I babysat that many kids before I ever had a baby of my own, I might not have had kids at all.  I am not patient enough or selfless enough.  I should never have had kids... and yet, I'm glad I did.  

But I stopped babysitting and got "fixed".  I knew I wasn't going to have any more babies.

This is not the entry I intended to do, but I got lost along the way and this is what you get.  

I think of every well-meaning mother who has babies and realizes too late that she really wasn't equipped for the tremendous responsibility that comes with having kids, but she went ahead and did the best she could because that was the path she chose; or maybe she didn't choose it, because there was a time a woman had no choice.

Most mothers do the best they know how to do.  Knowing that, I thank God for my mother and I thank God for the children He gave me in spite of my weaknesses.  I also thank Him for my husband, who put his foot down when I thought we needed a third baby.  

Here you go, Cliff.  You don't get to hear it often, but you were right.


ingasmile said...

When my husband and I were first dating and talking about kids, he wanted a whole gang. I was like no way, Jose! Cool those jets. I wasn't sure I wanted any. We eventually married, then my best girlfriend had a baby and my Mom was sick and going to die. So I thought now would be a good time to try, so my Momma got to have a grandchild for 3 years before she passed away. Then we had trouble getting pregnant a 2nd time and almost gave up. But with Dr. help we figured out the problem and had our 2nd, 6 years after the first. It is like having 2 only children. They are friends more than brothers. After the 2 my husband was very satisfied and didn't feel the need to have a whole gang anymore so he got "fixed".


Margaret said...

I wanted a third child and Patt said no. He was much wiser than I was because two kept us PLENTY BUSY.

Jon said...

You were blessed with two and that was sufficient. I'm sure you were a great mother.

My maternal great-grandmother had twelve children. She died before I was born, but on every photo I saw of her she looked miserable. From what I've heard, she wasn't fond of children.

Back Porch Writer said...

I only had one. I originally wanted two. But I realized how stressed I get over everything and decided my psyche couldn't handle it. I wish I had now in a way, gone ahead and had two. Katy also wishes that. But just us three against the world, we have had a great time. Katy is very mature for her age. We took her everywhere and she has a well rounded spirit although I am sure she is spoiled a bit. You seem to enjoy babysitting now but it's just one. Baby sitting is sometime very challenging. I can certainly see how what you were doing with that many would "break the camels back".

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

Like you as a teen I wanted a dozen children too. I was blessed with 7 and I loved every moment of it. We are all different. I'd never say I was the best mom but I loved having a large family and am thankful for every one of them.

Lori said...

Great post! I'm glad we stopped at two also, but I'm so glad we didn't stop at one!