Monday, December 31, 2012

Mother of One

I am thinking back, trying to remember what plans I had for myself as a young girl. I remember being elementary school aged and planning to have four children, to be married by twenty five, first child by twenty seven.

By the time I turned eighteen I had no such plans. I had a high school boyfriend.We spent most Friday and Saturday nights together. We were just friends, but friends that held each other up in spite of the circumstances of our families of origin who often pulled us down. By college I had decided against marriage and against children. I would remain single. I would become a veterinarian. I would require my three older siblings to call me Dr. so and so. I didn't understand children or men. I understood animals and that was pretty much my scope.

At twenty, walking from my college dorm on Cold Spring Lane en route to the Farm Store, I passed a young woman with a baby in a stroller. My thoughts of childlessness were over. The game changed. Yet how to get from here to there? I decided to familiarize myself with children by becoming a nanny. The bulletin boards  in the Education Department featured a Help Wanted advertisement for a summertime nanny for one eighteen month old girl, mornings Monday through Friday. How to convince her mother of my qualifications? I crafted a ridiculous resume listing all the varied creatures I had cared for from snakes, to rabbits, horses, donkeys, house cats, dogs. I explained earnestly that babies and toddlers have a great deal in common with puppies and kittens. To my amazement, she bought it. I spent the glorious summer of the seventeen year locusts outdoors with the loveliest purest goodness of an eighteen month old girl.

Fast forward fourteen years, I had been married for two years when I gave birth to number one son. None of it had gone as planned in any version of my plan. That left me thinking that all the other mothers knew a secret I didn't know. I remembered the advice I had given confidently and convincingly to so  many mothers and fathers over the years. I had thought I would be a natural. I certainly had the educational background and the professional experience, working with pediatric patients for ten years.

My mother couldn't be trusted on the subject of mothering, no natural or acquired skills. I had come to her at two weeks of age from St. Anne's Home for Infants and Unwed Mothers. She  was jealous, insanely jealous that I gave birth to this beautiful boy with his gorgeous blue eyes and full head of jet black hair. He looked just like me with darker hair. The first person I had ever known who looked like me.

Melanoma Man taught me to be a mother. He believed I already knew what to do and continued to show me evidence of my skill and worth as a mother until I could believe too. How did he know, fifty years old, confirmed bachelor until age 48? He will tell you he learned it all, Mother and Father from a cat known as Mr. Stubby gifted to him years earlier by me and the Matchmaker.

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