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Saturday, May 13, 2017

"A Look Back At 'Shrinking Motherhood' "

Well, if  you read last week's column, you may remember that I said this week I would be publishing
another "oldie and hopefully a goodie". I wrote the following - let's say article - many years ago.
You will see by my references to my son, Jamey, that at the time, he was a 'youth', a teen, a growing
young man. I sincerely hope that he doesn't mind my publishing this at this point in time. It was
written all those years ago with 'tongue in cheek' - but also with a lot of reality. I love you, Jamey.
I'm so very proud of you.
For any of my readers who are currently raising kids, I think you'll relate.

                                                      "Shrinking Motherhood"

Shrinking Motherhood. I think that term should be added to the rapidly growing list of euphemisms
we hear every day....such as "user friendly", "finding ourselves" and "service excellence".
Shrinking Motherhood. It says it all, doesn't it? I mean any mother of a growing-growing-gone
youth can relate to it. The thighs and waistline may be growing, but the Motherhood is definitely
shrinking!
You read in all the magazines today about how to hone your talents to insure career success. But
nobody ever addresses the subject of SMS, Shrinking Motherhood Syndrome Oh, sure, you hear
all about PMS, but to me that should refer to Pre-Mother Syndrome, when you thought Motherhood
meant much-wanted job security. Let's look at the facts. You're a professional in your field, but
suddenly you're left out standing in it - alone. You've specialized in, not only one area, but many and therefore, created job security for yourself. Nobody can "mother" like you can! You've given new
meaning to the word as a verb as well as a noun. Nobody knows her subject or has done her home-
work better than you have. You've had a great performance record, never missed a day's work in
all these years and vacation and sick days are unheard of. They've been erased from the book, unused! You've beaten the popular theory that no one's indispensable. You're a darned phenomenon!
It can't be denied! I say, "It can't be denied! Hello! Is anyone out there listening?" No response.
That's the first clue. There's no one home to listen or respond. Relax. It's only the beginning. The
youth has come of age.

The bed is slept in, but you don't actually see the youth enter or exit the sheets. The plate is empty,
but you don't see the youth consume the food. You're sitting quietly in front of the TV, wishing
someone was there to share the storyline with you. Suddenly you hear a faint 'ding' of the telephone,
somewhere in the distance. Why, you recognize that sound. It's the sound of someone hanging up
the extension upstairs. The Youth! Hope springs eternal! You didn't even know the youth was home.
The sweet lad was probably just calling one of his buddies to cancel the evening's plans - in order
to spend more time with you - his mother. You rush to the stairs to greet the youth - and in the process
are swept from your aching and shrinking parental feet by what would, in meteorological circles, be
referred to as a tornadic wind. You see a blaze of color as the wind spins you to the floor and you
recognize the vivid blue as the $75 Polo shirt the youth received for his last birthday. And you hear
a voice but you can't quite make out the message. But yes, it's definitely the voice of the youth. What
difference if you didn't catch the phrase? He spoke and your ears heard. God! Life is good to me.
There's no denying it.

Now, I know that women everywhere are constantly fighting the battles of cellulite and the bulging
waistline. Who isn't? But mothers, as a contradiction, I'd have to say that vital parts on the "mother
model" are definitely shrinking. Take the lap. There's a part that was once "user friendly" but is now
considered obsolete.

And the shoulder, well nobody needs the shoulder anymore. You know, they always say "use it or
lose it". I guess that's why all women's clothes have built-in shoulder pads these days. Now I know
the index finger seems like an unimportant part. But try living without it. Just think of all the ways
you've used it through the years - when the youth was growing up. It was essential for keeping his
place when he was first struggling with reading and there were always those last minute nose and
ear checks, just before he exited the car before school in the mornings. Remember this one? "Put
your finger here, Mom, so I can learn to tie my shoes." And when all else failed your index finger
was needed from time to time, to point in the child's face - just to make your point. TRY THAT
ONE NOW!

But the heart, I guess, is the shrinking part that amazes me most. I mean scientifically it just
doesn't seem possible for something that is so full to actually shrink. Maybe this particular part
will just end up breaking instead. And it's the current unpredictability of the heart that's driving
me crazy. I can't trust the darned think anymore. I used to know when my heart was going to make
me laugh and when it was going to make me cry. I knew what filled and what emptied it and most
of the time, at least for the sake of appearances, I could manage to control it. But now the youth
seems to have taken over total control of it, and that really blows me away! I'm the one who's
suffered the heartburn and heartache over the years. I'm the one who's heart skipped a beat every
time the toddler went down or the bicycle went down, or the quarterback went down. It's the very
same heart that heaved a sigh of relief every time the fever went down or the swelling went down
or every time the sun went down - and the youth was safe at home with me.

It's just the crowning blow that now the youth can play havoc with this vital part. And it's not like you
can just stop payment on the heart or return it. It's no longer under warranty. Too many miles.

I guess I could ask for the youth's heart, in trade of course. But that would be a little pushy, don't you think? I guess I could just say to the youth, "Here, have a heart! Take it. It's yours - the whole thing!"
But no, that wouldn't be considered "quality parenting". And besides, I already did that, many years
ago.
                                                                    **********

Well, there ya' go. Obviously by the references to the upstairs extension telephone and the women's
shoulder pads, you know this was written a long time ago, at a time when I really was questioning every maternal action and decision I was making. You just do the best you can at the time and in
every individual situation and hope and pray you're not damaging your children for life! (smile)
I just thought that at Mother's Day it might be appropriate to share with my readers. I hope you've
gotten some enjoying from it.

And Jamey, thanks for my wonderful card and the beautiful gardenia corsage. And thanks for being
the man you've become. And thanks for being mine and for making me the one thing I always hoped
to be, a mom. I love you.
Right now, he's probably thinking, "Mush!"

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