by Barbara Sanders

I'm a crossover from the time of Erma Brombeck, having gotten married the same year she started her wonderful career as the renowned author and writer. I would no doubt go down in Erma's "Hall of Fame" for Mothers, having the traits that make me either a good mother or a bad housekeeper, whichever way you want to look at it. I kept my house fairly clean, when both my children were young. But, I did manage to play with them, put them to bed at night, sing "Jesus Loves Me", as they drifted off to sleep. I often sat down and held them in my arms, while reading their favorite book for the umpteenth time! By that time, you knew it by heart, as did the kids! But, nevertheless, you could see the eyes light up, the shoulders flinch, when something exciting was about to take place in that story.

In my transition from Mother, to taxi-driver, to adviser, counselor, and friend, I received no salary, was rarely told "Thank you" - it was an expected thing that a Mom did. "Hey, Mom will do it" - only takes awhile, and there is no pain attached. Simple deductions!

During the transition, somewhere along the way, I learned that 'housework' wasn't where it was for me. I could go without making my bed every morning; it would still be waiting for me, when it came time to crawl back in at night. The covers felt just as good, after two weeks, as they did, being changed every Monday morning. The dishes could pile up in the sink, until the last glass and plate was gone; resort to the paper ones - everyone else does! Don't even have to take time out of your busy schedule to load that dishwasher tucked under the cabinet, for which you yearned, in your days of needs. The oven cooked just as well, if it wasn't cleaned everytime the cake ran over - that cake you just knew you had mixed correctly, not realizing you used baking powder with self-rising flour! Oh, well, the kids and, especially Dad, always did love a 'fallen pound cake'.

I also learned about the phone; I had a twenty-five foot cord attached to a phone on the wall in my kitchen. I could easily cook, clean the kitchen, tend to kids, or perhaps even get in a a little ironing, while 'attached' to the end of that receiver. I didn't make many phone calls, just recieved them. At that time, I didn't know how to say, "No, I don't have time to talk" - I thought you were a nice person, if you continued to talk while trying to take care of the necessary duties. I've since come to conclude that the phone isn't 'where it's at', unless you are on the computer. That is a different story altogether. The telemarketers have risen to a new height, and seem to call just when you get dinner on the table, and the fork raised to put that first bite in your mouth. RING!! RING! Just like clockwork!! "Hello?" "Sorry, can't take time out to do a survey." "No, I don't need any today." "No, I do NOT want to change my long distance carrier!" BANG! How dare them interrupt my 'quiet time.'

You have it right! Dinner is now mostly a quiet time for my husband and I, having raised two children, whom have given us five grandchildren, at the time of this writing. When the kids are all here, the doors fly open, stay open until the bugs get in - then they close them. The little feet run across the floor, right on to the carpet; doesn't matter that they've been outside in the mud or covered with whatever they can manage to get in the few minutes they are outside. The noise gets to new heights here, even louder than I remember it when my kids were in their 'prime' of childhood. So, when the kids leave, we get in our little nooks and venture into the world wide web, or read books, or stock papers. The talk becomes almost non-existent, and we send each other 'greetings' over a favorite chat program! How's that for life, after kids?

Oh, don't get me wrong! Life is wonderful when you are a Mother. You have those sweet, beautiful, little creatures crawling all over you, giving you the most enjoyable hugs and wet kisses that you could imagine! They get excited (when was the last time you got anyone that excited) at the mention of an ice cream cone, a water battle in the back yard, a pillow fight, or a roll on the floor. What about a lick from their puppy or kitty, or hearing you say, "Want to go out for pizza"? For those of us with grandchildren, we can look forward to these things happening once again - the excitement is even better. Enjoy them and send them home with Mom and Dad. The noise once again subsides, the doors are closed - no bugs coming in, and the air conditioner isn't cooling the world! And, behind closed doors, we are already missing those hugs, wet kisses, and laughs, even before the cars taking those kids home has gone out of the driveway.

I'm not impressed with mothers that have it 'altogether', because I know there is no such thing in this life. There may be tranquil moments in their lives, with children, but, believe me, nothing is perfect. Kids do get to you, and you want to trade them off at times for the 'well-behaved' kids of your best friend - I kid you not! If we could be 'a fly on the wall' in the homes of the mothers that seem to have no problems raising their children, I think we'd all get our eyes opened. Those children throw tantrums, drop food, break your best glasses, get mad at one another, throw things at each other, and make you want to pull out the last hair you have on your head! Why? Children are children, even the best well-seemingly behaved ones.

There are times that I suppose we Mothers 'get to' our kids as well, causing some of those tantrums. We have yet to learn that our children are more important than making that meatloaf for the banquet tonight, having friends over for a dinner in a clean kitchen for once, reaching our next meeting on time, or talking to our friend. The kids could care less that we haven't talked with them in ages. It's their time in Mother's life, and they want all that time, reserving none for outsiders. They don't understand that Mother isn't a machine, in that, she does not run on batteries, or gas. You can't wind her up and make her go, when she's out of fuel, or make her legs work, when they've traveled their last mile for the day. Children don't give up, never wind down. And, heaven forbid, you have to take to the bed because of an illness!

Mothers have their own 'looks'. You can usually tell who is a Mother and who isn't, by the way they look at kids, or they way they react to the tantrums some pitch in a crowded fast food restaurant. Mothers understand children better than other people. They try not to 'lose it' when their kids stump their feet in protest when they have to settle for a hamburger instead of a happy meal - "sonny, I just don't have the change at the moment except for a fast burger and coke. Sorry!" They don't care whose heads turn; they swat the child on the behind right in the mall, when they misbehave. Doesn't matter that the next person is thinking about turning them over to the police for abuse! An unruly child is worse than a run-away puppy!! You can usually find the run-away dog, but, if the unruly child isn't seen to at the moment they interrupt you in whatever you are doing, and corrected, shown that it isn't the accepted behaviour, then you will soon have a problem on your hands.

Mothers in their prime sounds like Mothers who have gotten half way through the daily chores, and just sitting down for a cup of coffee before the kids come home, or, perhaps raised their kids to teenagers. Not so, for we, in our prime, are those Mothers who have, long ago, sent our kids off to college, a new job, their own apartment, marriage, and now are enjoying the fruits of our labors. We can set quietly in our nooks, enjoying life, in our quiet time, until we again hear the phone ringing, or a knock on the back door. Once again, we see those little faces smiling, and those little feet running over to reach up and give you another wonderful hug and a wet kiss! You can even handle an occasional energetic child jumping astride your waist. Oh, there is nothing like being in your PRIME!

Written ©July 13, 2000 by Barbara Sanders, AL. All rights reserved.


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