Growing up in the ’50s and ’60s, many of my classmates were from large families. Knowing nothing about living with multiple siblings, my sister is nearly 9 years older, I thought having lots of live-in playmates would be delightful. I loved visiting friends with siblings, especially babies, and tried talking my mom into providing me a younger sister or brother. She lovingly declined, saying someday I could have babies of my own. Her response was disappointing.
In those days mothers were typically at home with the children regardless of how many in the family. I have fond memories of talking to my friends’ moms and seeing how other families interacted. Clueless about what was involved in caring for a family, I planned to discover that in my future. When my favorite television series, “The Waltons,” debuted in the early ’70s, I realized there was much meal preparation, laundry, dishes and cleaning that went on. Old enough to seriously consider a family, I wasn’t sure nine children, my original plan, was going to easily work out.
When I was nearly 26, my husband and I welcomed our first child. I was so enamored with that baby, but he had issues I hadn’t planned on, like colic, a habit of waking up during the night and again at 6 a.m., and considering 20 minutes a nap. This behavior didn’t fit my plans. We learned to adapt. Well, my husband and I did, but our son skipped that part. Sixteen months later our daughter arrived, and 22 months later we welcomed our second daughter. I was truly in love with our family, but I didn’t know love could be so exhausting.
While doing my best to hold everything together and be efficient and serene, I would almost want to cause physical harm to anyone telling me, “Oh, honey, enjoy your children while they’re young, it’s so much easier when they are little.” I shuddered to think what it would be like when they were older. I vowed never to say that to any mother, and I didn’t. Truth be told, every age has its challenges.
The years went by quickly but some days took forever. My husband and I now have seven grandchildren, and will celebrate 50 years of marriage next April. This pandemic with its social distancing and necessary restrictions on events has provided opportunities for reminiscing about how “things used to be.” Sentimentality can create tears over the simplest of memories. Some challenges brought on by the virus I never anticipated.
Even though only two are at the table for meals, I am quickly running out of food ideas. I remember moms who prepared meals for eight or 10, and am amazed at how they managed. Where did they come up with daily ideas that would fit their food budget? As a newlywed, I worried about what my husband and I would talk about at mealtime each evening. That was never a problem, but the current concern is what’s for dinner!
I don’t remember learning that change is a constant in life. Challenging lessons taught me otherwise. Adaptability and coping skills are essential. Role models are wonderful and I’m still learning from them. Though many have left this earth, I’ll always cherish their beautiful and helpful examples.