After watching a show on PBS on Geneology the subject of my family and ancestors was brought up. This led me to think of my Mamaw Carter, who has been gone for several years now. Last night as I lay in bed, I thought of her and all the wonderful memories I have of her. It is so hard to believe sometimes, that someone who was so “large in life” and so much an integral part of me, is now just a memory. A lot of who I am today, I owe to her.
Mamaw devoted her life to her family. She never worked outside the home, she never drove a car, she didn’t go visit friends, and after her husband passed away (My “Gran” died before I was born), she always lived with one of her sons. So her family WAS her life. We were all she had.
It is funny, what memories choose to stay with us and linger. Some of the smallest things and tiniest details are imprinted in my memory.
I have never been alone. From the moment of conception, as a tiny embryo, my sister was right at my side. Growing up we did everything together, even being born.
Keri was always the leader, sometimes at great cost. She was the first out of the womb, making the way easier for me, but the process took its toll on her. In December of ’74, just two months old, we both caught pneumonia. Being the first born, Keri’s immune system was weaker than mine, and her case was more serious. We were both admitted into the hospital. As my mom rocked Keri to sleep, she noticed her skin had become tinged blue, as well as her lips. Keri was rushed to Children’s Medical Center in Dallas. On the way to Children’s, Keri stopped breathing 2 more times.
I can remember spending many nights at my Grandma and Grandad Bailey’s house. During the summers we stayed for weeks at a time. We loved it. Looking back, I don’t know how she managed to keep her sanity. It wasn’t just me and my siblings there, it was ALL the cousins. At any given time she would have 7 to 8 kids running in and out of the house, sometimes more when we brought a friend.
Grandma never minded though. She loved us being there. I can not remember a single time that she lost her patience and yelled at us. That’s not to say she didn’t get on to us. I remember her chasing the older cousins around with a switch from the tree or more often, her fly swatter. I don’t remember ever getting a whipping myself, though I am sure I must have. Grandma had a paddle hanging on her wall that someone had decorated and given her. “Grandma’s Paddle” was written across it. I don’t remember the paddle ever leaving her wall. Grandma and Grandad both were easy-going, never yelling or screaming at any of us. Their patience seemed limitless…….or maybe that is why Grandad spent so much time out in the shed.
To Work….or Not to Work……. that is the question my husband and I agonized over for several months, before I took the plunge and quit my job. It wasn’t an easy decision for us. We debated long and hard over what we felt would be right for our family. If I were to stay home once again, our lifestyle would have to change. While their are many perks to this lifestyle, there are also many drawbacks.
This isn’t my first time to be a Stay At Home Mom. I stayed home for 7 years before starting work 3 years ago. With the second income, our lifestyle changed. We ate out more, we went somewhere every weekend, rarely staying at home. And we were able to buy the kids more toys and gifts than we ever could previously. I’m not saying that we were extremely wealthy, by any means, only that it opened up a little bit more freedom than we had before. Over time that new lifestyle became our new habits.
We began to have to schedule in days that we could stay home. It sounds crazy, but we had gotten to the point where life was so hectic that we were always on the go. Every Saturday morning was spent cleaning the house, doing all the things we were not able to get done during the week. Once everyone was showered, dressed, and ready to go, we hit the town, or went to whatever we had planned that day. We always looked forward to those days when we had nothing planned and could just stay home all day. With both of us working all week, staying home had become our new luxury.
Ask any Working mother, and she will tell you that it is often a struggle to balance work and home.
Mornings were a rush to get not only myself ready but also the kids. I wish I could say that everything was organized and running on a smooth schedule…. everyone down early enough to eat breakfast together, dressed and ready to go. But ……….. I’m not a liar. The truth is that it was usually a mad dash to get everyone downstairs and in the car on time. Breakfast was skipped for me, and for the kids it was usually a quick bowl of cereal or pop tarts eaten in the car on the drive to school.