Disclaimer: The accounts you are about to read are tongue-in-cheek. They have more to do with my foibles than my children’s misadventures. I took real-life events and ran with them (Sometimes running them into the ground!). I have a sneaky suspicion if you have reared children or are rearing them now, you will see yourself or them in Raising Kids and Teens. Enjoy!
CUPID, YOU CAN KEEP YOUR ARROW (by Janine Mick Wills)
Since my mother worked outside the home, my oldest sister practically raised me. She pooh-poohed my clothing selection, stood over my shoulder when I worked in the kitchen, and discredited my every boyfriend. The day I called to announce my pregnancy, she broke into peals of laughter. I removed the phone from my ear and waited for her composure to return.
“You?” she asked. “You’re pregnant? How? Why? You said you’d never have kids.”
Another round of laughter traveled to me courtesy of Ma Bell. Big sisters can be so annoying.
“Yes, Sue. I’m pregnant. You already have a child, so I think you know how. Why? Well, I don’t know why. Just because.”
I hated to admit it, but she was right. Growing up, I swore I’d never add to the world’s over-population. I patterned myself after my other sister Tammy. A throwback to the 60s, she’d sit cross-legged on the floor, burn incense, and chant, “I will not have children and ruin my perfect body. I will not have children and ruin my perfect body.”
Hey, the thought of stretch marks and saggy body parts didn’t appeal to me either.
I wish someone had informed me. A woman could live with a less-than-perfect body. It’s the eighteen years after a child is born that ruins her.
And by-the-way, Tammy had a baby girl three years later. Some role model she turned out to be.
I blamed my pregnancy on Cupid. In high school, he shot an arrow straight into my heart. I fell in love with a tall, dark, and handsome basketball star. Unfortunately, this tall drink of water came from a family of eight kids. Large families were not just suggested. They were mandatory.
The first time I met Jeff’s father, he circled me like a dog chasing a scent. I wondered if he was checking the width of my hips. Were they wide enough for childbearing? I must have passed inspection. Four years later Jeff and I married.
For three years Jeff tried non-stop to persuade me to start a family. His persistence wore down my resolve to remain childless. We decided on a “small” family of five. Believe me, that was a compromise on his part. He wanted enough children to build a football team – offense and defense. I told him he needed three more wives.
Jason, our first and smallest baby, weighed eight pounds, eight-and-a-half ounces. Jennifer tipped the scales at eight pounds, ten-and-a-half ounces. Jared broke the scales at nine pounds, twelve ounces (Don’t eat vegetables sprayed with Miracle Gro when you’re pregnant).
Jared entered the world after twelve hours of intense labor. I pushed so hard, I almost lost my tonsils. No small feat, since they were removed when I was seven. My barely five-foot frame screamed, “That’s it. No more kids,” and my womanly parts promptly fell to the floor. My childbearing years ceased much to my joy and Jeff’s chagrin. For years afterward, I caught him looking wistfully at the personal ads. He never found a woman willing to marry a man, who already had a wife and three kids, and give him 19 more progeny.
But when sink or swim comes to shove, I wouldn’t trade my three kids for anything. They have broughtlove, joy, and excitement to my life. Not to mention a second mortgage, a couch with permanent Jell-O stains, and a cat that jumped every time he heard them coming.
Maybe I’ll give Cupid back that arrow I stole!
DO YOU KNOW WHERE THE APPLES WENT? (by Janine Mick Wills)
In exactly nine months, two weeks, three days, nine hours, and forty-five minutes I will be the mother of not one, not two, but three children between the ages of thirteen and eighteen. Teenagers. My mother should have warned me and insist I keep taking my birth control pills. If she’d even hinted at the chaos to come, I would have kept swallowing those magic little pills and sprayed mace at my husband Jeff those nights he got that look in his eyes and splashed on a half-bottle of Old Spice.
You’d think raising teenagers would be easy for me. I’d been one for six years. And I didn’t give my parents a lick of trouble during that time. This memory lapse has genetic roots. My mother can’t remember my teen years either. She insists I passed from a serious child to a responsible adult with nary a mishap. Of course, she booked a world cruise from 1971-1977 and fled the house. Maybe I should have asked my dad instead.
I know Jeff was a perfect teenager. He tells me so every day of the week ending with “ay”. When we visit his folks, he runs up to his dad like a three-month-old puppy.
“Hey Dad, wasn’t I a perfect teenager, huh, huh, huh?” After Clark wipes the drool off his pants and looks dumbfounded at his eldest son, he mumbles, “Uh, sure.” Then Jeff whacks me on the back and says, “See, I told you so.”
If Jeff and I were such model teens, what happened to our kids? The apples fell so far from the tree; it’d take a road map to find them. Either our parents are pulling our leg, or the perfect teenager gene is recessive. Very recessive. For never in my wildest dreams did I imagine anything as terrifying and exhilarating as raising teenagers. (And believe me, I’ve had some wild dreams. Like the time Jason, our eldest, turned into a big, hairy monster when I wouldn’t let him borrow the car. Hey, wait a minute. That wasn’t a dream. That was last night!)
When I told my fifteen-year-old daughter, Jennifer, I planned to write a book about raising teenagers, she collapsed on my bed, rolled her eyes as only she can do, and moaned, “Mother, you just won’t quit until I’m completely ruined, will you?”
“Now Honey,” I cooed, “when I get published, become rich and famous, and appear on Oprah, you’ll thank me.”
“Yeah right, Mom. And the Gap is just another clothing store.”
The next thing I knew, her backside flashed past me, and she slammed her bedroom door. That poor door’s been slammed so many times it has an inferiority complex.
I don’t know why Jennifer’s worried. She’s told her friends so many things about me, my credibility wobbles at a negative twenty. They wouldn’t believe me if I said she doesn’t wake up looking gorgeous and sometimes has to study to make straight A’s. I mean, puhleaze.
I’ve not mustered the courage to tell Jason I’m writing a book detailing his every foible. My insurance premiums aren’t paid up yet. He left home last summer for six days because I asked him to take out the trash. Before that, he punched a hole in the door because I didn’t know the capital of Argentina for a homework assignment.
As for happy-go-lucky Jared, he’ll be beside himself when he finds out about my tell-all book. He’s the youngest and won’t be a teenager until November. The “I wish my parents would crawl under a rock and die” stage hasn’t inflicted him – yet. He still thinks I’m the best mom in the world.
When Jared finds out I”m writing this book, he’ll make Superglue look like paint thinner. I won’t be able to shake him. He’ll follow me around and offer his two cents (and with Jared “two cents” is a couple hundred bucks).
I can hear it now. “Mom, it’s so cool that you’re writing about me.”
“Now Jared, this book is about all three of you kids.”
“I know, but I’m more interesting than Jason and Jennifer. You can write about when I was two years old and ate the hot pepper in the grocery store or the time I told Dad’s friends how much he really paid for his new car.”
“Jared, I’m writing a book here; not a series.”
“But, Mom, people will want to know everything about me.”
Yes, Jared is a pistol, but I won’t tell him this book is published until I cash the royalty check and stick the money in a Swiss bank account. Among his many talents, he has an uncanny knack for sniffing out money.
But then again… that’s just the way kids are!