Tuesday, April 1

Motherhood is an Anthropological Evolution

Part One
The Origin Story of me as a young mother is not atypical. Together as new parents, we discovered our interdisciplinary approach worked very well most of the time. The rest of the time we just guessed.

The kids were good, humanism developed naturally. Edible resources were easily distributed; they liked almost everything I fed them. Language blossomed within the familial social context as anticipated, but the sheer delight of original baby-words and the funny things they said later was an awesome surprise.

They liked to take a bath. They made beautiful pictures that all looked like Mr. Potato Head. (Bi's Santa on our apt. window) They loved stories. (baby Bi) Hunter-gatherer type expeditions to the public library required all hands to haul home the “booty”. Singing and dancing together was the cultural norm. It didn't matter if it was Mozart or Metallica. Music was a ritualized value in our home.

When I was mean to them, they forgave me quickly. When I was impatient, they seemed to understand. Mothers are sometimes pretty stupid.

Resources were scarce, with little surplus. We lacked status, but there was much happiness within the nuclear family.

Fieldwork indicated the offspring enjoyed each other’s company.

When they didn’t, paralanguage themes imposed they sing their apology in rhyme, to the tune of their choice. A written apology was accepted, but in poetry form. I found a couple of those artifacts the other day. I had forgotten an original illustration from the miscreant was also required. I wish now I had saved every single, incredible one.

If I told them the timer was on – they understood it was a contest to see how fast they could tidy up their rooms in situ. I was insulted if they said, “Why? Is someone coming over?” When I announced it was “Quiet Time”...it really, seriously was – or else. Both were considered sustainable and necessary for the sanity of society.

Enculturation was highly valued; I expected the children to forage for their own entertainment or artistic pursuits, prompted by materials provided, by their observations of how available resources were utilized for this purpose, and by my insistence that they leave me alone so I could finish a contract painting.

They were careful with puzzle pieces and crayons. They were given free access to food preparation techniques and mastered simple baking by about age 6 or 7. Exhibitions of individual creativity were prized. Negative statements i.e.: “I’m bored” or “There’s nothing to do” were disavowed.

T.V. and video game time were policed with a passion and an open bias. Equal time to reading was required, but not etched in stone. Periodically the controllers disappeared completely (I forgot where I hid them). Only recently I learned when I took Nintendo controllers with me to work to thwart little boys rotting their brains to mush – they called a pal to bring over his controllers and managed to play the day away in spite of me. However, they meticulously checked-off their chore list like a crazed, killer tornado probably the last half-hour before I was due home.

Posturing for influence within the brood was thankfully limited. Bidee was the mother hen but impressively charismatic big sister. She thought of her sibling's needs before her own. James was analytical and easy-going. When Hobbes the parakeet died from eggs (she was egg-bound), he asked the school librarian to help him find books on bird care.

Both he & sports-manic Leiland were good about keeping their square footage eating Legos projects away from new baby sister. They all spoiled the last baby sister. I don’t remember anyone shirking diaper duty or being unwilling to help a little one get ready for Church.

(When I was teaching early morning Seminary, the boys (6th & 3rd grade) were in charge of wake-up, breakfast and helping Asia get dressed for Kindergarten. They got themselves to the bus stop on time every day except one).

Cursory sociological review suggests it seemed much easier back then, so deep and thick in the middle of organized chaos. Some aspects of cultural transmission from the first three children to the last two appear to have been foiled. I suspect this assessment may largely be due to parental fatigue ~ and selective memory loss.



Bandanamom said...

This is awesome Cindi. I love all the photos - wow. You've been at this mom thing for quite a while - we start out with you in some lovely 70s style bell bottoms and you aren't finished yet! That last one still has to make it all the way through high school. Fatigue seems an understatement. I've only been at this since 1990 and sometimes I think I'm awfully fatigued myself. Not that it isn't a sort of wonderful fatigue most of the time.

Cynthia said...

Parental fatigue should be listed in every medical publication as a verifiable condition.
I am oh so tempted to quit the easter baskets, the christmas stockings and the b-day parties and our #4 still has a minimum of 5 more years here. Fatigue is at an all time high.
I love your photos. You have done some fine parenting. The regular trips to the library seem like such an ordinary activity at the time, but sure hold a lot of memories. Way to go.

Yaj said...

I am not sure the fatigue factor is supposed to end. Still, from my fatigued memory, I don't remember taking that many naked photos...! Must be an eastern thing. Or a western one...