Wednesday, October 24, 2007

More Joys of Parenthood

Does anyone else not relish being the only grown up in the room?

Let me ask it another way.

Has anyone had to explain to their seven year old daughter why they should not sleep with boys before they can afford to take care of babies? That just because they see grownups doing things that seem ok doesn’t make it ok for her until she has a degree, a job, and health care? All this before 7 a.m. yesterday. Whew. Parenting should be on the list of causes for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

My sister recently recounted to me how her daughter told her that with my sister at her side, she was ready to be a mom. Of course this triggered a reaction similar to the one I had over my Grape Nuts yesterday morning. When she told me about it, we laughed until our sides hurt and hoped it was some sort of 7 year old thing. But it is kind of sad, in a way, to have to pull our kids back from the fantasy world of happily ever after at hearth and home. Actually it’s a wonder that this fantasy even persists in our daughters, given what they’ve each been through with their own biological fathers .

I’m sure my mother worried about the pitfalls of raising us daughters through the time of our own sexual discovery, although probably not when we were quite that young. And she had already survived raising three adolescent boys, complete with a Chevy Van and a motorcycle accident or two. But as she pressed on after my dad died, she had to leave my sister and I alone a lot of the time while she worked to sustain the family business. It can’t have been easy, even though she was only a three minute walk from our house. I know now that she had to have bit her tongue and crossed her fingers more times than not. A lot of the time, she just looked the other way. Suddenly I realize maybe it’s not the end of the world that my son’s bedroom floor is littered with Lego Bionicle pieces, or that he likes to hang out with me at astronomy lectures or bluegrass festivals. Things could be a whole lot worse right now, and they won’t stay like this forever, so I better enjoy it while it lasts. The calm before the storm.

So, last night I casually mentioned to my kids that I have no plans to raise my grandchildren. I will look forward to the visits, to baking and playing, to overnight campouts, garden surprises, and whatever wonderful things the future has in store. But rehashing my own years as Mom is not one of them. My job is to raise my children, and their job will be to raise theirs--preferably at least some 20 years down the road. Funny how an innocent little school paper can trigger visions of spending one’s retirement hanging diapers on the line before going off for a night shift in the canned goods section at the Greedy Eagle.

If my job as mothering came with a soundtrack, it would feature this tune. It's a Mammals track called "Go On Traveling" and one of my favorites. It's really beautiful, kind of a goofy song of love and letting go. Evidently the band had a MySpace Mishap and their old site, which had this track, is gone. So I'm afraid you'll have to settle for the Amazon clip. Or, head on over to iTunes and get the whole thing.

Go On Traveling
From The Mammals "Rock That Babe"

Praise whatever you praise and praise it proudly
Eat the apple of your eye gladly
Don't let money rule you honey
Go on traveling

Praise praise praise
Eat eat eat
Don't let money rule you honey
Go on traveling

You're alone you're alone you're alone alone
Singin' a song, singin' your first song madly
Findin' out for yourself what it means to be
Findin' out what it means to not mean to be
Alone alone singin' singin' a song
Findin out what it means
To go on traveling

Laugh at yourself for not laughing at yourself
Open your mouth widely
Open your mind as wide as the time
Go on traveling
Laugh Laugh laugh
Mouth mouth mouth
Open your mind as wide as the time

Go on traveling
Go on traveling
Go on traveling
Go on traveling


At October 24, 2007 9:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I truly do salute all of you who are raising or have raised children, and you, MM, do it with such grace, good humor, poise, wit, and humor!

Much love,


At October 25, 2007 7:18 AM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Hi Shadow,
Motherhood is the only rollercoaster I'm likely ever to ride, but it's the one rollercoaster you can never get off! So far it's been worth every twist and turn!


At October 26, 2007 9:20 AM, Blogger DrDon said...

Well, more power to you Mando. As you know, I do not have children nor could I have children. I've enjoyed spending time with my nephews and actually enjoy them more now that they are older but I absolutely would not have the patience for having any of my own. I know there are a lot of good things about having kids but as an outsider to that club, you don't see it very often. What you see is parents looking exhausted and exasperated. While it's not a popular thing to do, I've heard more than a fair share of parents expressing regret over having children. Of course, there are plenty of childless people who regret their decision as well. I just think it is a tough job to raise kids, I mean to really raise them.

At October 26, 2007 5:36 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Well, that's for sure, Doc. Parenthood is really tough if you're paying attention at all. I think it's also important to be The Uncle. It's a great job, because kids don't always have a grown up who isn't mom or dad to talk to. I bet you're a great uncle.

I'll admit to being pretty attached to my kids, who are now both very bright and fairly confident young people. I still can't get over my former brother in law's comment after my divorce: "Well, you know, once you had kids, it's like it was all about THEM." Bless his heart. I love him dearly but when his new little one arrives early next year I'm sure he'll realize there are a few adjustments to make. And hopefully his brother's lack of initiative in the couple's night out department isn't something that runs in his family.

At October 27, 2007 9:35 PM, Blogger Shameless Agitator said...

Whew, what a conversation to have so early in the morning. I hope you at least had your coffee before... It does put things into perspective when looking at my girls' messy rooms. Eeek!


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