Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. Thomas Merton

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mother's Day and "My Sister was an Only Child"

Here it is Tuesday and I'm just now getting around to putting down some thoughts about Mother's Day.

Our oldest child was born just before Mother's Day--May 6th. He's all grown up, but living at home for a while, so we took him out to dinner for his birthday last week. I decided that since it was so close to Mother's Day, there was no need for the family to take me out to lunch or dinner on Sunday. Everyone seemed agreeable to this, so we combined his birthday and Mother's Day into one dinner outing. It was quite nice. I had some sort of tasty salmon entree that kept me full and happy for some time afterward. Everyone seemed to have a good time and it was good to have everyone together for the celebration. We missed the Mother's Day crowds that are usually part of going out to eat that day. I also got to spend a goodly portion of Mother's Day taking a nice long nap.

Our oldest is now thirty-seven. His next closest sibling is twenty and the youngest is seventeen. I don't really know why we had the big gap, but that's the way it worked out and it seems to have worked well enough. Not like we could do too much about it; pregnancy just wasn't happening. We married while in college and thought we'd have all our children by the time we were thirty or so. We also thought we would wait until we were out of school and had jobs before having children. Well, that didn't work. Our first was born a little before our first anniversary. I was twenty. When thirty rolled around, we decided that it must have worked out as planned because it seemed that we had all the children that we were going to be blessed with. By the time he was fourteen or so, I decided that there was absolutely no reason to keep that baby crib and other stuff that I had been storing in the closet for the next time it was needed. Apparently there wasn't going to be a next time, so I got rid of all of it. Besides, I was thirty-four and, face it, there just weren't going to be any more babies. Time passed. Then one day, something wasn't quite right and after a week or two, I realized that I was pregnant--at thirty-five. Oh!! Gee, hadn't I just gotten rid of all that baby stuff? Then there was a miscarriage, but since another child was actually a possibility, we decided to try again. We had a lovely daughter and figured that we should give it another try so that she would have someone a little closer in age to grow up with--after all, Big Bro was sixteen when she was born. Three years later we had son number two. As it worked out, we had all our children by the time we were forty or so. They span nineteen years and, so far, with one still in high school, we've spent all our married life raising children.

My only sibling, my older sister, and I were eighteen years apart. I used to spend my summers with her, sort of her summer child because she was childless until I was fifteen. She had a book that was written by comedy writer, Jack Douglas (who used to write for Johnny Carson and others), which was entitled "My Brother was an Only Child." As a child, I used to think that was the silliest title. Really, how could your brother be an only child? One day, I realized that my sister was an only child. She grew up without siblings. I was born in July of the year she turned eighteen. She graduated from high school and got married in May, when I was nine months old. For many years, she was much more my mother than my sister, especially during those summers I spent with her and her husband, being their summer child from the time I was five until I was eighteen. And, since our parents had just the two of us eighteen years apart, I, too, was an only child.

I didn't really know my grandmothers, but I did grow up with my two mothers--my mother and my sister. I miss them a lot. I always think of them on Mother's Day.


  1. I love the pictures that you have on the side. What is the wheel down at the bottom? Your herb garden really looks nice.

  2. That is a Country Craftsman that belongs to Burritt. They are no longer being manufactured. I found that one on the internet and donated it so that we could have one for spare parts. When it arrived, it was in excellent condition and deserving of a happy life, so instead of making it our salvage wheel, I put it to use. Even though I have "retired" from Burritt, I still use that one when I go up to volunteer.
    Afraid I can't take credit for the herb garden. That one is the baby of the lovely Pat McMillion, one of the Burritt volunteers and a Master Gardener. She has put so much time and love into it--it really shows. I'm hoping I can start to get mine back into shape this summer.