Sunday, May 11, 2014

Hands On Learning - Experience Not Required

This is the very first picture of me as a mother. I was very young. Seventeen. But I loved that baby from the first moment I knew I was expecting even though it meant my life was going to drastically change. My girlhood days would come to an end and I would have to be an adult. A mother. 

I didn't know anything about being the mother of a baby. I knew my mother. She was a wonderful mother to me, but I was the baby of the family. So while I was fascinated with babies, I had rarely held a baby before my own baby was born. My older sister had a baby a little over a year before I did, but her baby was a mama's girl and didn't take to other people holding her. So I had mostly smiled and played with her without picking her up. I was afraid I wouldn't know what to do if she cried. Actually, I do know what I would have done if she cried. I would have handed her off to her mother or my mother.

But suddenly (9 months can feel sudden sometimes) I was a mother. A baby boy was dependent on me for care. I had to hold him and keep him fed and dry and smiling if I could. I had to rock him through stuffy noses and teething and nights when he wouldn't sleep. Besides that, I had to put meals on the table and keep our old farmhouse relatively clean. I had to wash clothes and diapers and try to figure out how to treat diaper rash.

The one thing I didn't have to figure out was how to love him. That was with my whole heart. And somehow I stumbled along and with the help of my husband and my mother who was always ready with the answers I needed about what a mother should do, I managed to raise a wonderful son. Not quite two years later, my daughter came along and then some years after than, my youngest son. By then, I felt like an old hand at being a mom. 

But the first baby, it was all hands on learning. In spite of my inexperience, he turned out all right. Well, better than all right. He was a wonderful son and still is. Now he's a great husband and father too. Here we are probably when he was a senior in high school.

You know what got me through. Mother love. Mine for him and my mother's for me because she was always ready to help. She never said I was too young although she probably thought it. She was my rock when I needed someone to lean on. I treasure the days we spent together when my kids were little. A good time for me. A good time for them. A good time for Mom. And she loved my grandkids too. Here she is with my two oldest grandkids about twelve years ago.
Mom doesn't remember those times now. But I believe they are still part of her and at times the echoes of their happiness brings a smile to her face even if she can't remember what is being echoed in her heart. 

I put this quote I really liked in our church bulletin today. "My mom is a neverending song in my heart of comfort, happiness, and being. I may sometimes forget the words but I always remember the tune." (Graycie Harmon)

That's Mom - remembering the tune of a loving mother even though she has forgotten the words. 

Did you know all about babies when you first became a mother? Or were you like me and had to learn on the motherhood job?


  1. Beautiful post Ann and I love the Church bulletin quote!
    You brought back many memories, our first born was a daughter and no, I knew nothing about babies and learned as I went along. No help from my mother, nannies employed only for generations. I broke the mold in more ways than one and have no regrets.
    Thank you for sharing,

    1. Nothing like learning by doing, right, Noelle? But I did have plenty of help from my mother, so I guess I was ahead on that. Of course, I made some mistakes and could have done a bunch of things better, but it worked out. Love can cover a lot of mistakes.

    2. I was barely 18 when my son was born, my husband was in the service, my mom encouraged me but I had to take care of him on my own...she was a nurse and worked, my two older sisters were married , I did just fine.

    3. There are some natural mothering instincts that kick in, Anonymous. But I did like being able to go to my mom for how to advice. She was better than any baby book could have ever been. I'm sure it was more difficult for you with your husband away in the service.

  2. Anne, I loved your post. I can honestly say when girls were dreaming of wonderful careers in the business world or medical field or whatever, I dreamed of being a wife and mother. I always had a baby doll in my arms as a little girl and when I was old enough, babysitting became my weekend and summer jobs. I always sat by new mothers with babies at church hoping that I would get to hold their precious bundle.

    When my own bundle came along, she was everything I had hoped and prayed for. Her cradled in the crook of my arm was a natural, perfect fit.

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

    1. What a sweet comment, Melanie. I think some of us are wired to want to be mothers. I felt that way too although I wanted to be a mother who wrote stories. :) I'm sure you were a wonderful mother and your daughter was blessed to have you.


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