There is an Indian fable about seven blind mice and an elephant. Each of the mice explores a part of the elephant and they all come away with different ideas of what an elephant is. I love that story. It has a good message. And I can sort of relate.
There are seven young people who call me mom. However, if they were each asked to give a description of their mother, you would get some different stories.
My oldest kids have memories of an energetic young mom who played kickball in the front yard, had Nerf battles, and could sit crossed-legged on the floor to dress dolls or build with Legos. They will remember I only allowed G rated movies in our home. Their mom always seemed to have a toddler on her hip, and a baby on the way. She was always sleep-deprived and often grouchy because of it. The oldest would tell you mom was strict and wanted to be obeyed immediately. A clean house was very important to their mom and she cooked a lot.
The younger kids might listen to those stories and wonder where their siblings had lived back then. These kids have never seen me kick a ball across the yard, shoot a Nerf dart, or sit on the floor. The younger kids have an older mom who has arthritis and moves slow. They will remember a lot of times supper came from a can, a box, or a drive-thru window. And they will remember being able to watch a few PG rated movies while they were still in grade school. (Scandalous, I know.) On the plus side, the younger kids will remember a more patient mom who was not stressed when the house was not clean or the kids did not obey the first time. Sure, I am the same person but… not really.
To two of my children I was a tutor and helped with many school assignments while the other kids will have little memory of mom sitting with them to do homework. It was not necessary. They managed quite well without help. Some of the kids loved to read and loved to be read to. Those children will recall lying in mom’s bed while she laughed hysterically at what Junie B Jones had just done. One of the boys was passionate about dinosaurs and he will remember time spent discussing those great beasts with mom and her trying to pronounce their names correctly. One of the girls was/is passionate about farming and we have spent many hours reading about tractors and sitting at the cattle auction just for her pleasure.
The oldest children and the two youngest will remember a mom who volunteered in the primary grades and was often at classroom parties. The middle children will not have those memories. The girls will remember a lot more play dates than the boys as they played so quietly and did not require me to repair anything afterward. The boys could definitely claim discrimination here.
Five of the kids played baseball or softball in the summers and will recall their mom at the ball field, in a lawn chair, cheering them on. Two of the children will never associate their mother with a ball field at all. The older children will remember their mom taking them to swimming lessons but the younger children will remember a mom that taught them to swim in the pool we built in the backyard. Two of these kids might remember their mother with a joystick in her hand as they tried to teach her to play video games. The others would be shocked to hear their mother had ever held a joystick. A couple of the children would remember a day their mother brought home eight different brands of hotdogs so they could have a blind taste test to settle a very important debate. Only one of the kids will have a memory of getting a pony on their birthday. That girl’s mom really came through for her!
All seven children will have some similar memories. They will all be able to hear my voice in their mind, singing to them. They will all remember their mom as their first Bible class teacher. They will all remember a mom who was crazy in love with their daddy.
I gave all seven children a good childhood but they did not all have the same childhood and I am learning to be okay with that. Not all my children had the same opportunities or abilities nor will they have all the same memories and that has to be okay. I cannot recreate the older children’s childhood for the younger children, nor can I turn back the clock to make sure the older kids get every experience the younger children have now.
Recently one of my oldest sons returned home for a visit. He saw Lucky Charms in the pantry and did a double take. My rule for a lot of years was that I would not buy chocolate cereal or cereal containing marshmallows. He looked at me and said, “Mom. You’ve changed.” I said, “Yes. I have.”