Monthly Archives: March 2011

Kidding aside: Some not so random thoughts

Note: This post is a response to posts by (in order of how I read them) Indigo Bunting, Mali, Lali, and Bridgett.

I gave birth to two children. I wanted them and I had them. I’d have three if the stars had been aligned a little better.

There was a time — throughout my twenties and into my early thirties that I thought I would not have children. My husband and I were a child-free/less couple for a decade and when I think back on that time it was fine. We were fine. We would have been fine had we not had children. However, the minute I was given the go-ahead to have children, my life changed completely. Pampers commercials made me quiver with anticipation. When we had our first child we were so smitten we tried (and were successful)  for a second before the first was a year old.

I know people with no children either by choice or not by choice. I know people with one child. I know lots of people with two or three children. I know people with many children. I know people who adopted children. I know women who had children on their own. I know same-sex parents. None of these people should be judged, especially based on the decisions they made or didn’t make regarding offspring.

Last night, after writing an emotional comment on Indigo Bunting’s blog post, I thought about why this topic makes me so emotional. I think it goes way back to an episode of All in the Family in which Mike and Gloria proclaim they’ll never have children because of overpopulation. This was the first time I’d heard of this concept and it upset me. I wanted to grow up and have children, but I didn’t want to be a cause of overpopulation.

I have felt a lot of guilt in my role as mother*. I felt guilt when I worked when my daughter was an infant. I felt guilt when I didn’t work when my son was an infant. I felt guilt when I read books for pleasure instead of taking the children to the park. I felt guilt for going back to work when my son was a toddler. I felt guilt for what I fed them and then what I didn’t feed them. (you get the idea) I didn’t, however, feel guilt for having them in the first place — overpopulation be damned.

I try really hard to be non-judgmental. I try to remember that everyone has a secret history. I rarely ask questions of anyone except the best of friends questions that might be considered personal — especially regarding children.

So the idea that people who have children are selfish upsets me — perhaps akin to what someone who didn’t have children feel when they’re called selfish. It goes both ways.

While writing this and thinking about the posts that inspired it — I kept remembering two sayings I’ve thought about concerning parenthood. One was a teeshirt I saw in a card and gift store (incidentally the one in which went into labor with my second child) that I thought was funny. It had a drawing of a woman with a shocked look on her face. Under the drawing was a quote: “Oh no! I forgot to have children!” I remember a heated discussion I had with a friend (who had two children — I might have had one at the time — or none) about the saying. She was appalled and could not figure out why I thought it was funny.

The second is a Brian Andreas print/saying that I gave my mother for Christmas one year — shortly after we had our first child. It goes something like this: “There are lives I can imagine without children, but none of them have the same laughter and noise.” I always felt bad that my Aunt Ginny had to see that whenever she visited my mom’s house — she always wanted children, but she and Uncle Jack never did.

*I’ve never used this phrase to exclude people who are not mothers. To me, it just means in my life as a mother as opposed to when I was not a mother.

Happy Birthday Saul Korewa, wherever you are

I am writing this on the last day of February, 2011. It will be posted on the 55th anniversary of the birth of a unique person. He won’t turn 55 years old today, however. And that’s the bad news.

The good news is that Saul was. He was a good person and cared deeply about his daughters. He was a teacher. He was a religious leader. He even was a TV movie actor.

In the earlier days of the World Wide Web, long before the phrase “social media” was a term and it was considered okay to get to know people solely online, we “met” via a piece of software called ICQ that had a unique “random” feature. One of us, probably Saul , pushed the random button and found my profile and requested a chat. We hit it off immediately. We talked nearly every day (mostly about raising kids) for at least a year — possibly more — until he went off the grid and moved to a remote “ranch” in Nevada.

He loved the da Vinci painting Ginevra de’ Benci. He fiercely defended his faith. He didn’t always follow rules. He was a good son and a good father.

About a year ago we reconnected on Facebook, but he’d disappear for months at a time because of loss of Internet access or a misplaced or lost cell phone. Our last conversation was about how proud he was of his girls and that the middle daughter might go into education and he wanted her to talk to me since I’d been a teacher.

Every so often I’d check out one of his two Facebook profiles (yes, he was a rebel) to see what he was up to, or if he’d checked in recently. Today, knowing his birthday was coming up (remember this is being written February 28), I checked his profile and found a message from one of his daughters saying he’d died in December in a house fire.

I used to tease him about being older than I was. Very soon that won’t be the case. I’ll bypass him. I’m sure he’s laughing about that somewhere.

Since he’s devoutly Jewish, I suppose I shouldn’t think of him at that table in Heaven with my Uncle Don, JFK and my Dad, but if he’s there, he’s sure to be telling some fun stories.

On December 20th he posted a photo of  a composite of the recent total lunar eclipse and tagged me as one of the phases. He died a week later. It’s comforting, somehow, to know he thought about me a week before he moved on.

(photos snagged from the Internet)

The end of an era

Andrew and his coach Wrestling ended officially last weekend with the annual Wrestling banquet and honors ceremony for the team. For us it was the final banquet, and very bittersweet.

Wrestling is over for Andrew. He has no plans on wresting in college and, as far as I know, there are no wrestling “pick up” matches in which former wrestlers can participate if they get the urge to wrestle — unlike many other sports such as basketball, baseball and football.

Andrew as a young wrestler I don’t have a lot of regrets, but one I do have is not being interested in Andrew’s sporting life earlier. I rarely went to any of his soccer or rugby matches or basketball games when he was young, and while I probably went to more wrestling events because they were inside, didn’t go to most of them up through middle school. I understood none of the rules of any of the sports he liked and was not interested enough to try to learn. I’ll never get those days back for a re-do.

Andrew warming up before a match Once he got into high school and was chosen for the varsity wrestling team as a freshman, I began to take an interest. I volunteered to redesign and manage the team website and attended most of the meets and tournaments throughout his high school career.

I learned the rules, screamed directions to the wrestlers with the best of them, and cursed out the referees’ poor calls like a pro. I developed an appreciation for all of the sensory assaults experiences one encounters at a wrestling tournament: the shrill whistles, loud buzzers and screaming fans; the scent of hundreds of sweating adolescent bodies mingled with the odor of chemicals used to sanitize the mats; the backache from sitting for hours on hard, backless bleachers; the sight of constant movement on the gym floor under unforgiving gymnasium lighting; the taste of whatever unhealthy foods were sold in the concession stands.

Andrew hugging his coach after his very last wrestling matchI am so proud of my son and what he accomplished these four years as a wrestler. I believe that much of what he’s become as a young man (a delightful, smart, charming, kind, thoughtful, strong young man) is due to his experience on the wrestling team. I wrote about his coach a few years ago — but it was even more than that. It was his team. His teammates. His opponents. It was the whole experience that helped shape him.

That he took first place in the county and region and fourth place at States are admirable as is his inclusion on the local newspaper’s “first” team, his whopping 115 career wins and being chosen for the coach’s award, but even without these honors, I would have been proud of him. They’re just added value — icing on the cake.

Here’s to the end of wrestling — the end of an era for us. We’ve got a lot of memories and a whole lot of photos. Here’s my favorite, to the left even though it sometimes makes me sad to view. He’s hugging his coach after his very last wrestling match of his high school career.