Becoming a mom has made me think deep thoughts about a lot of things, one of which is the home in which my children will grow up in and how I will curate that for them. The things I think of firstly are to have fresh flowers around the house, to have homemade meals and some kind of baked goods available for them frequently, to have fun music playing in the background, and craft time at the dining room table. I've started to think more deeply about my own childhood that felt wonderful, and what about our home contributed to that.
I feel like we had the most fun and magical backyard that just seemed full of adventure potential. Our two big trees were simultaneously playhouses, lookouts, a place to pretend nap as a pretend big cat (usually for me a tiger), the jumping off point onto the trampoline, and they had the best big, strong branches to hold tire swings.
We had an apple tree, an apricot tree, a grape vine, and sometimes strawberries. The fruit that fell on the ground, half eaten by bugs, helped concoct the grossest, smelliest secret recipes and potions.
I don’t really remember ever not having a fish pond, and in pretend games, it was a beautiful spot for a princess to sit and ponder at her reflection, a large body of water as an obstacle to adventure across, and sometimes your only source of hydration when you’re a prairie girl traveling to find a new homestead. We also "accidentally" fell in a few times, along with our schnauzer, Princess, while she was staring at the fish.
We had a tiny little shed that my parents put our orange carpet in that had been torn up and replaced in the house. we equipped it with a beanbag chair and our play kitchen and it was the perfect sized playhouse for my sister and I. My parents also frequently got refrigerator boxes from the local Sears store that were converted into wonderful castles (And we wonder where we got our craftiness).
I felt like my backyard was the prettiest oasis where my imagination was endless, and it’s at the forefront of many childhood memories.
When we weren’t living it up in the backyard, I remember a lot of Barbie mansions spanning across bookshelves, my sister and I building our animal dens with lots of cushions and blankets under side tables and dining room chairs. Those couch cushions also became our gymnastics mats, you know, for practicing somersaults and cartwheels in the living room. Fun short story, my mom would ask us if we wanted to take real dance or gymnastics classes, to which we would reply, "why? we already know how to do that."
Of course as a kid you don’t think much about it, but looking back now as an adult who aspires to have a somewhat tidy home, I can only see my parents now as extremely patient, mostly curators of our imagination and play time. It’s even more impressive if you really know my parents, and know how clean and organized of a pair that they are. Perhaps I’ve blocked it from memory, but I don’t remember much complaining from them for us to keep our playing and toys in our rooms or to stop getting things out, except when it was just appropriate. I mean, a day or two is long enough for an animal den to remain in the corner of the living room.
Sarah and I were also very into crafting early on. Sarah notoriously collected toilet paper roles under her bathroom sink for a long time and we took a lot of pride in building our Barbie’s things: furniture, clothes, food. I thought Sarah was brilliant when she suggested using the red wax from the mini babybel cheese wheels to make Barbie candles. We often left those crafting projects out on the dining table for days on end, I think of how annoying that must’ve been, but again, I don’t remember getting a whole lot of parental grief for it. My mom, being an avid reader and admittedly not one to want to really join in on the play time perhaps was glad for us to be entertaining ourselves.
Our house was not huge by any means, I’d be so curious to return to it and see how different it feels, but maybe that would ruin some of the magic. Our living room was a one car garage that had been converted into the living room before my parents bought our house, and it felt huge. I remember spending many a Sunday night eating popcorn, cheese slices, and apple slices on the floor, sitting on a blanket watching a movie. One of my parents won an inflatable Coca Cola couch in a drawing from the United grocery store, complete with cup holders and we just thought it was the most amazing new play thing. Of course we treated it with a lot of care creating fun games where you jumped on the couch from different angles to get it to flip over on you.
Our den, which had been the original living room was where we would lay at night with just the lamps on and my mom would read to us before bed. She read all of the Harry Potter books to us, mostly in there and on car trips up until the fifth book came out and we were old enough to read it ourselves. This was also the room in which cousin productions took place. Where the den broke off into the hallway leading to the bedrooms, there were closets on either side and it was just right for hanging a sheet in between for puppet shows.
Our bedrooms were also always the envy of all of our friends. For a long time I had an under the sea theme, this was pre-wall decals and we spent a lot of time painting various coral and sea life on my bedroom walls. Sarah had a beach scene painted on her walls and a grass skirt hung around her, huge-to-me-grown-up-big-sister-full-sized-bed. She still didn’t let me sleep with her very often. I always thought my sister was the coolest, had the coolest stuff, coolest clothes, and the way she did her room could’ve been the inspiration for a cool tween tv room like Lizzie McGuire’s. I wish we had better pictures of our super cool rooms.
I could go on and on about those good, warm memories. I’m sure there were hard things my parents shielded from us, I do remember the occasional spanking, and maybe a little bit of a spanking session when I once insisted that they didn’t hurt. Either way, all of the good definitely outweighed the bad, if I could even call any of my childhood bad at all. I think that’s pretty evident now as well with the closeness my sister and I have with our parents as adults. I feel extremely blessed to have that in my family, and it’s what I want for my children as well.
Now that my Mayzee is here, I get it. I get when you all said that you didn’t really understand love until you had children. That, and to also realize how much my parents really love me, although, maybe they don’t have the desire to sniff my head anymore (baby head smell gives the best endorphins!). Every day with a child is so much more magical, to see everything like you are seeing it for the first time through their eyes, even though all that Mayzee sees right now is pretty blurry. I feel responsible to return the magic I feel by being her mom, to her. I hope to help my Mayzee, and any future children to feel like they had the best childhood, like I did. Thanks mom and dad!