Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘balance’

I am an only. My mother always enjoyed telling people she originally hoped to have six children, but once I arrived on the scene, she decided one was more than enough. Whatever, Mom. She calls me her “only chick”. Seems appropriate, as most of my life she’s leaned toward being a bit of a mother hen. Whatever the situation, however, she has steadfastly remained my number one fan. I strained this position often. There was the time I blew up the kitchen making mini tacos, or another when I forgot to remove the speaker attached to the window of her new car at the drive-in before exiting the parking lot. Undaunted, she still picked up her pom poms and cheered me on. Being an only chick does not come without the onus of responsibility. As an “only” you carry the torch for those kids who didn’t come before you or those not arriving after you. At one time or another you will be the oldest, the youngest, the best, the worst, the smartest, the dumbest, the happiest, the saddest, the tallest, the shortest, the fattest and the thinnest child your parents will ever have. Faithfully, I lived up to each of these adjectives during my tenure as my mother’s only daughter. Some days, depending on how the wind was blowing, I might have qualified for the whole set on either the plus or the minus side.

My childhood, well up until middle school, would have satisfied the “fattest” portion of the program. Mother referred to my extra padding as “baby fat”, although I had moved beyond the baby fat when my diapers and crocheted hat had been retired. My grandmother, in whose house I had been raised, liked to bake. I was her perfect foil, I liked to eat. A match made in heaven. Living in Nova Scotia, where I made my home until the age of nine, I don’t think I was even aware I was “chubby”. My world was buffered by loving family members and childhood friends. If they felt I was a little round about the edges, they were kind enough to keep that information to themselves. Immediately after celebrating my ninth birthday, my mother remarried. Hoping for a fresh start, and armed with a new last name and a promise of a job at a Southern California newspaper for my new “dad”, the idea of relocating permanently to California was born. To soothe the blow of being uprooted from my childhood home for me, the carrot dangled before my nose was Disneyland. Television was not uncommon in everyone’s homes by then. Children with access to a set, tuned in to the Wonderful World of Disney each week to be part of the magic kingdom Walt Disney had created. Disneyland was for us on the far east coast a dream land. A place built for the young and the young at heart with all manner of rides and excitement available to anyone who could afford the price of a pack of tickets at the gate. Back then it was nothing like it is today. The Matterhorn was still being constructed (I know – old as dirt here) the first time I visited. At the gate you bought books of tickets.They went from A-E. “A” tickets got you on the less popular rides and as you moved on thru B-D you moved up in fun an popularity until you got to “E” tickets which gained you entrance to the more exciting rides such as the Matterhorn once it was open. That first time at the park my mom spent $50, including meals and souvenirs. These days you’d have nearly that much out of your wallet just to pay the parking attendant. I haven’t been recently but I’ve heard there are very long lines and much expense involved in a trip. The endless lines don’t call my name anymore and if I’m going to drop a load of bills it probably won’t be to see Mickey and Minnie dancing down Main Street. I’m just saying. However, the memories of past visits are nice to paste in my memory book.

Even with the promised visit to Disneyland it didn’t take long for me to identify little plump Canadian girls were out of step with the golden girls of California. Blond goddesses, with slender bodies and golden skin. Lane Bryant would never have been an acceptable place to shop for anyone basking in the glow of their inner circles. Around middle school I began to realize I wanted to lose weight. My mother, aware of my struggle with food, stepped in to help. The baby fat had remained steadfastly in place. Knowing I was unhappy with my extra pounds, she offered me a challenge over the summer between eighth and ninth grade. First, she had a dietician at the hospital where she worked draw up a healthy diet plan for me to follow. The second part of the program was a contract between my mother and I agreeing she would pay me one dollar for each pound I lost, plus throw in a whole new wardrobe once my goal weight was achieved. Hey, a dollar a pound was pretty good back then, when a McDonald’s cheeseburger still went for fifteen cents. Aside from the forty dollars I pocketed, and the closet full of lovely new clothes, that shift in my eating habits was to be the beginning for me of a lifetime of healthy eating. Up until that time, I considered cookies, Hostess cupcakes and Twinkies a separate food group.

Conquering my perceived weight issues to some extent, I next slipped quietly into another phase of my young life. I went from being a nearly straight “A” student considered fairly “bright” in some circles, to barely advancing from ninth to tenth grade. This, satisfying the smartest and dumbest part of the adjective string noted above. The reason was not so much I actually became more stupid as the years passed, but rather I discovered boys in my world. Certainly I knew they were around prior to puberty, but viewed them as those annoying little dweebs in class making gassy noises with their hands under their armpits or pulling my hair at recess. Suddenly I saw them in a whole new light. Instead of making me irritated, they made me shy, made my heart beat a little faster, and generally swept me off my saddle shoed feet. Friends, dances, music, dates, proms, and all the other things high school brought to the forefront all stood first in line in front of learning, which had had somehow been demoted to the caboose.

in spite of the diversions and defying all odds I received my diploma. This was not without a few detours and blips on the screen which I will discuss at a later time. After graduation, I enrolled in computer science classes at the junior college, while also managing to obtain my first job. A local moving company had taken me on as a clerk typist in their dispatch office. My salary was to be $300 a month gross. These days that wouldn’t cover groceries.


Balancing a job during the day, and classes at night, didn’t leave much room for socializing. That being said, I still managed to announce my engagement to my first husband before lighting the candles on my nineteenth birthday. He and I had a shared history of eleven days of courtship when I made the announcement to my parents. Was my mother writing this chapter, she would pull the “worst” out of the adjective chain to cover this happy news. Cajoling ensued, bribes were offered, and begging was not off the table. Love, in the end, conquered all, and a date was set and plans were made for a wedding eight months down the road. Pulling the best out if the string to keep things even, we would fast forward to two and a half years later when my husband and I had welcomed a daughter and a son into our lives. We were only destined to share eight years of marriage, but the gift from him has always been these two special beings who have made my life so special.

I have spent most of my time living up to people’s expectations, sometimes even exceeding them, or being an abysmal disappointment. Balance, as I often say, in everything. Today I can say I am the oldest child, and I’m good with that. A little gray around the temples (okay a lot) and some scuff on my shoes may show some mileage, but also I hope they are an indication I have some acquired wisdom and character. I’ve earned what wrinkles are evident by smiling often, accepting some devastating losses, and surviving the trip.

Have a great day. A new president enters the White House and again we turn the page to a new chapter,

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: