Mothers Diary

When my six year old daughter acts like she does, I close my eyes and count, "one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten – it's her age, I hope." I tell my friends that right now she's going through a difficult period and they are courteous enough not to remind me that I've been saying that for the last six years.
And the mothers of adolescent daughters laugh raucously, "Just wait til she’s 13." So I wonder where turmoil ends and calm begins. It seems to me that there must be some delicious interval where behavior is civilized and worry is nil. However, if my observations are correct, I believe all three of mine have already passed that interval.

If you discount diapers and formulas, I rather think the first year is the ideal period. Perhaps I will truly realize this with my sixth and won't say to myself, "When I no longer have to wash diapers, I can really enjoy my young." girlFor in the second year is learning to walk, and broken lamps and falling down stairs; the third year is calling the police to locate a wandering child five or six blocks away and the first swear word spoken innocently, but oh, so aptly, in front of dinner guests; the fourth year is discontent, too young to do the things they want to do and too old to do the things they can do; the fifth year is kindergarten, concern over clothes, a sudden alarming independence wherein mothers and fathers are merely obstacles to fun, and an intensified aversion to rest in the afternoons; the sixth year – but this is where I came in. Who brought this up anyway?

Either I'm lazy or I estimate beyond my strength. I always have such plans. I avidly read all fascinating magazines and newspaper recipes and dream of the herbs and flavors which will make meals "different." But somehow the same old meat, vegetable, salad routine finds its way to my table. With an apple pie thrown in occasionally for variety. And when the grocery boy delivered the crate of peaches, I could see in my mind's eye the peach pies, peach cobblers, broiled peach halves and upside down cake. I was going to make – and a little jam, too, maybe. The last peach is gone now and we ate every last one, sliced with sugar and cream. Either I'm lazy or I estimate beyond my strength.

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Mothers Diary
Of course, I know more than Betty Crocker, and that's how I got into trouble on practically the busiest Saturday of my life. I had already baked a chocolate cake earlier in the day, but during my lunch, there was this perfectly delectable sponge cake with jelly icing staring up at me from a magazine page. The cake part was quick and easy, just as the recipe said and the frosting just an egg white and a half cup of jelly, whipped over hot water until dissolved and them whipped until cool – sounded simple. But that lone egg white and dab of jelly in the bottom of the pan looked inadequate for my cooling layers, and I blithely doubled the amount.

cake So I whipped until dissolved, removed it to the table and beat some more. "Beat some more" is the whole story, really. I stood over that pan and twirled the egg beater until my arms ached and my feet hurt, and watched with horror that frosting mounting to the top of the pan. I was reminded of my mother's story of her first venture with rice! When it was finally cool and held a peak, I had frosting, believe me! I put all I decently could on the cake and I still had frosting. Desperately, I searched for a full box of crackers from the cupboard and made frosting sandwiches until the plate was piled high. I nearly ran out of crackers before the frosting was gone. When I wearily thrust the plateful out the door at my own and neighboring children at four o'clock in the afternoon, the whole downstairs was yet to be cleaned. But the children were charmed!

I wish a man with a microphone or a notebook and pencil would stop me on the street and ask me what I think of the state of the world – or something. I am a delighted reader of "What Do You Think?" in the Register, and all short interviews with this one and that one about how do they like the movie or how do they feel about the invasion, or what does the 4th of July mean to you. Once in my early days in Waterloo, there was n noon program that I seldom missed – just a man on the street asking questions of passersby. Every day before I went down town, I would mentally prepare myself for any questions I might be asked, and I certainly wouldn't be giggly and fluttery. I would be dignified and enlighten the world with my profound answers. But I never did find the corner where the broadcasting was done.

Once a photographer took my picture on the street and as I hurried by, thrust into my limp hand a card which directed me to the place where in return for a quarter, I could have the photo. But I never got up enough courage to go after it. So it's like that with me.
But I still wish a man with a microphone or notebook and pencil would stop me and say, "What is your name, and do you believe what you read in the papers?" If I could even remember my own name, I bet I could tell him a thing or two.

The other afternoon, while my mother-in-law was alone with the children, my two small boys trailed into the house in search of refreshments, as usual, and, as usual, accompanied by half of the neighborhood. They were informed that grandma hadn't the slightest idea if there was anything for them to eat or not. One curly haired tot marched straight through to the kitchen, "Oh, Steve's mother always has cookies or crackers in her cupboard." Which, though not being strictly true, was one of the nicest compliments I've ever had.

I am personally distressed whenever I hear a child swear, innocently or not. And I have searched my mind for a telling phrase in discussing it with my own children. My daughter brought me eh answer not long ago. "I like Denny," she told me, "and I like to play with him, but I don't like the way he uses God's language."

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Mothers Diary
two boys If you have two small boys and I have, rainy days are terrific – especially three or four in a row. I don't know why, but on those days, they wake up early and go to sleep late. For my part, I can sleep long and beautifully on rainy mornings, but that's another story, and besides my intimates would say, "What's rain got to do with your sleeping in the morning?"
I know many articles have been written concerning "How to Entertain Your Child on Rainy Days," but they never seem to help me or mine. I get full of ideas and plans and decide to fill up that emergency "Things to Do Box" and be prepared but when the day of weeping skies comes. I'm the kind of mother who gives each child a cookie and a push and says, "Go play," and "Don't bother me," and "I'm busy." And I go up to scrub the bathroom, presently coming down to find the downstairs bed piled high with contents of boxes, drawers and cupboards. Positively everything there, from tomorrows laundry to the books on the correspondence course I never completed. (And where did they find those anyway? I didn't know where they were.) I irately demand an explanation and restitution and am met with the reasonable, "But we were dump trucks. We had to have something to dump, didn't we?"

scissors I decide it is all my fault for not providing amusement so I haul out old newspapers and scissors and get the boys settled in the middle of the floor. All goes well until that potent silence descends, that all mothers know so well, so I rush from the kitchen and, of course, I might have known. They are sitting in the midst of scattered hairs, and two pair of eyes gaze, suddenly stricken, from under ragged thatches of what were once 75-cent haircuts. Scissors are confiscated and Steve wails, "But I was making us beautiful for Manson!" Beautiful indeed!

The time for bathes and naps finally arrives and I think my troubles are nearly over, but the bathes present hazards I had not dreamed of. While I vigorously cleanse them, they raise wash cloths high and drop them with mighty splashes, shrieking "Bombs away!" I unthinkingly reach for the bar of soap, to have my nerves and ears shattered with "Put it down! You can’t pick up a speed boat like that!"
I send them to their bedrooms while I wearily mop up the bathtub and surrounding territory. Then I encounter them prancing about in the hall and command, "Get into bed, now, both of you," and Steve pauses long enough to reprove me, "You mustn’t talk to us. We're a parade."
More and the same of this throughout the rest of the day and Daddy at long last gets home to relieve the situation and after a half hour of them, he asks "Isn't it time for these boys to go to bed?"
Ah me – rainy days. If I were master of the weather, I would arrange for all rain between one and three o’clock in the afternoons and between nine and five o’clock at night. The rest of the time, we'd have, as the youngsters say, "Shinyness."

Band concerts are nearly over and I'm sorry. I like them. I like the music and everything that goes with it. I like the excitement and heightened tension along Main Street as nine o'clock draws near. There are scattered groups of men and women on the sidewalks, especially at the street corners and stray bits of political discussions and canning achievements catch your ear. There is bustling activity in all the stores and while you're buying tooth powder, suddenly the music begins and all transactions and conversation take on an added glamour, with such a stirring background. Your step quickens and your laughter is freer, as you hurry to the scene, which any other day or evening is just a side street, but now it is an enchanted crowded spot. You stand or sit, outwardly calm, but filled with that heady, holiday giddiness that comes with the mingling of music, laughter, and the smell of popcorn and ice cream cones dripping down small fronts. Boys and girls stroll across the street consciously, unconscious of eyes upon them. A little girl with dark curls happily skips in perfect time with the band. A horde of millers flutters about the brightened heads of the players. director A small boy pipes up, "What's that man standing up there shaking a stick at those guys for?" And a hasty explanation that he's the director to show them when to play fast or slow or loud or soft seems inadequate to describe a complicated profession, so masterfully done. A baby cries. Finally, the Star Spangled Banner, and a concerted uprising. Everyone stands quiet and attentive; my thoughts are far away with absent loved ones, until the end. All except my youngest, who finds himself more tired than patriotic, and sits all alone on the curb.
I do like band concerts. But one more, and that's all for this season. I'm sorry, too. Thanks band players and Director Peer for a fine job and we'll be seeing you next summer at the same old stand.

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