**Again, the prompt was interesting at first, but then it took a turn as I continued…***
I grew up in the United States. It’s hard to say which location to call the home of my childhood because I spent time in Indiana and Texas, two states with much different lifestyles–at least back then they were. In Texas, I grew up believing that God had not only invented football, but He had set up HQ in the western part of the state. That’s great if you want to love the sport, but I preferred my pencils and canvases.
I was born over a dozen years after my lone sibling. I made friends, of course, but those friendships back then did not have the sustainability after leaving town that young people have today. I finished high school in the late 50s in the South. I had always thought that equality for all was a no-brainer, but who really cared what a middle-class white girl thought back then? I trumped off to school to study art–specifically interior design–but couldn’t finish my degree.
That’s when I made the leap to the west coast. I lived with a friend outside of Los Angeles for some time before I met someone. That relationship damaged my opinion of men in those days. We were together arguably way longer than we should have been, but we did produce two sons. When our relationship became, in my eyes, the environment my boys were not going to live in, we left. Three of us. On a plane. And we joined my mother in Indiana. Those boys were about 6 and nearly 2 at the time.
The closest their father ever got to them from then on was in the form of support checks that arrived rather infrequently before they completely stopped around eight years after moving.
But my boys flourished in Indiana. With the help of their “Gram” we four figured things out. I missed a lot of concerts and games, but I also had a steady job for the rest of my working days.
I became a grandmother for the first time in 1994, a second time in 1996; more recently, my other son has become a father to two as well (2012 and 2014). My mother passed in 2003 at the ripe age of 95. I’ve lived in the same house I did since we moved here in 1978. Upon my retirement, I found a lot of opportunities to return to my love of the arts, but recently my budget won’t allow those niceties.
I’m a reader. I’ve loved books as long as I can remember and have spent way too much money on first editions of contemporary authors such as Maeve Binchy, John Grisham, Danielle Steele (years ago), and Sue Grafton. I raised two boys who share so many personality traits, but only one is a reader. My older son has always been a numbers and technology person.
One of my regrets as a younger mother was the period when I smoked. I used to smoke Salems, and I never did it in front of my boys. The house has a basement, and when I was needing it most, I simply smoked down there–usually after they were asleep. When my work shift changed in the 90s, I smoked less and less and eventually decided to quit. Like everyone else who quits, I replaced those cigarettes with snacks, which of course was just as unhealthy but more accepted by society for some reason. I smoked for the same reasons other people smoke, snack, run, drink, paint, or destroy—because it was my outlet of tension. I rarely even finished most of the cigarettes I lit.
As a mother, I found the most effective tool to curtail bad behavior was a combination of stern dissatisfaction and squelching episodes of frustration. I spanked when it seemed that nothing else would get my point across. I preferred laughing with them most of the time. Like a lot of parents, I probably let them both get away with more than I should. But during that, I instilled in them respect for all–women especially–and that hard work can pay off. Both my boys, ironically, are procrastinators more often than I’d wished they’d be. I love that they both do whatever they can for me. I must have done a few things right over the years.