I had no role model in motherhood. I had no person that I knew personally to emulate, bring my silly or important questions to. I had no one to say “you did that too!” at the wonderful things children do.
I had to return to work when my first child was one. I worked in a VIP Park Ave law firm from 8:30 pm – 3:30 am. Yes, we had a full staff, and yes, we were always busy. The attorneys, especially associates, worked round the clock. I was home during the day with the at-home moms. (I slept 4:30 am -8/8:30 am). The at-home moms treated me like an outsider or remarked about my poor husband watching the children….the poor one who didn’t work by choice. Smh….they didn’t let me play any reindeer games.
I became accustomed to less sleep. When I wasn’t working, I was always with my boys. It was the best. Oh how I laughed when something came in a box of packing peanuts…my oldest whished and whished in a circle making them dance, take flight and spread about the kitchen as he laughed. When I had to cook, I’d let him take all the cans out of the cupboard, crawl in and put them back. We’d bike ride to the park, first just tandem with my oldest behind me … later both of them! in a pull along trolley attached to my bike…. to the local playground. We made cupcakes. We made a mess. Lots of fun messes. We made forts with sheets over the table … our secret club. We watched several favorite movies umpteen times. I read book after book after book. And I sang them to sleep from the day they were born …. “stars shining bright above you, say nighty night and whisper I love you…”
I cringed when my youngest, in trying to get my attention, started jiggling the loose fat skin on the back of my upper arm as I was talking to the coach. I learned some of the best music when each of them drove to school on a permit with me as passenger … and learned great stories or personal sharing on the way home. Those were excellent times. ….. Oh, but Mom, please don’t cheer soooo loud at the games …. oh, and Mom, if you’re wearing those pants to drive me to school, please don’t get out of the car. This stuff just cracked me up. The funniest things the boys did. One year, when my youngest was 9 he decided he wanted to be BOB DOLE for Halloween. What? Why? Where did you get that idea? Bob Dole was not campaigning….he had a few years before….but, yes, my son wanted a suit and slicked back hair. So, I put it together, and he was Bob Dole, though not a single person had any idea what his costume was about.
I adore my boys but I am and was a parent first …. always. We butt heads too. When my oldest was in high school and had done something eggregious, I punished him with no weekends out for two weeks. My football varsity son shrugged his shoulders at his punishment. Hmmmm. This did not sit well with me at all. It was smug and disrespectful….and clearly, he did not care that he had done something wrong. Time to switch gears. My son had a 36″ flat screen tv on a credenza in his bedroom. I walked to the wall, unplugged the tv and yanked it by the cord off the credenza onto the floor. “What are you doing Mom??!!” I did not answer. I dragged the tv by the cord down the upstairs hallway, bang, bang, bang down the steps to the dining room, dragged to kitchen, bang bang bang, to main floor, drag it by the cord to the garage. I then went back to my son’s room. “Are you impressed with your punishment now?” He never sassed me again.
The boys played sports beginning with soccer at age 5, then baseball, football, lacrosse, basketball. I went to towns I would not have otherwise visited except someone had a game there. I learned New Jersey, not my original state. I sat in the bleachers year round. I volunteered. Outside of these events, I was and still am a loner. I enjoyed most of the people. I met some crappy people too. Those are the odds. The kids are always the best part. Fun, excited for life, full of energy and curiosity, silliness, wonder and honesty. I always got along great with all the kids. It was very spirit filling.
When the boys were in high school, I got involved in town civics. Someone volunteered me, and that’s where it began. I served on the Democratic Municipal Committee, Taxpayers Association and they asked me to run for town council. I resigned from the first two. I was the sole member of Taxpayer group who was against reducing police size and pay; the Democratic group asked me to sign something without reading it due to time constraints. I could not; my legal background would not let me. I declined the town council offer. My reputation as a muckraker had been planted. Alan Alda raised his family in this town. Our municipal facilities are shamefully held together with duct tape. I wrote Mr. Alda via his agent in New York City and asked if he’d attend a fundraiser I’d organize for the benefit of the municipal facilities. He wrote back a hand-written letter. He said his schedule did not allow for attending a fundraiser but he’d gladly donate $25k…just give him details for check. I was elated. I gave the Mayor the original letter and gave a copy to the police chief. I suggested to both of them: make a bullet list and be precise, for example, 4 office chairs at $150 each, 3 file cabinets at $200 each, etc. 4 years passed. No one contacted Mr. Alda. What inefficient waste. I did, however, immediately wrote my own thank you letter and informed Mr. Alda that I was passing it on. As far as my town goes, now, I keep to myself.
Last year at Christmas Dinner, BOTH of my sons said to me during dinner, thank you Mom for everything; you are the reason we who we are, for our sucess and decency. I almost fell off my chair. It was a comment out of the blue. It was and is wonderful.
I am my own role model.