Jane Bland, Episode 4: Raising Men

Raising Men

I wasn’t the best mother in the world, I’ll admit. My maternal instinct didn’t come easy. I didn’t choose the traditional method for having children; husband, mortgage, dual-income. My situation, like many other women of my generation, was different. This is not some sob story of getting pregnant in my teens and rising above adversity. I was 25 when my first child was born. Nor is it a story of an abusive ex-husband who didn’t care for his children. Because he did care. It just took him a while to show it. This is just my story, and I can write it now because this week, the week I turned 48, my older son flew the nest and finally, finally I’m just me again.

I’m Jane Bland. My story isn’t unusual. But it is my story. And I’m telling it.

I raised two boys to men. Let’s call them John and Wil, for ease of storytelling, and also because that’s their names. Nothing creative here, they were just the names that were on their faces when they decided to pop out. It wasn’t complicated at all. I looked at their faces, and chose their names.

My children were born at home, and I could bore you with the details of it all, but I won’t. I was terrified of going to the hospital to have my children. I just wanted to squat, and push, and that’s what I did. Luckily I come from a long line of middle european breeding stock so that part was the simple part. I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone. But it worked fine for me.

Yes, the birthing was the simple part. Squat, and push. After that came the responsibility of having a child, and then another. Both were surprises. In more ways than one. I suppose every woman who bears a child has images in her head, like I do. I remember one night when I had gone to visit my parents with my new born first child; he was five weeks old and it was his first Christmas. I was upstairs in my old room, and John was sleeping wetly beside me. I lay on my side as I gazed and him and sobbed and sobbed. I just couldn’t belive how beautiful he was. Then he woke and was fussy, crying in the middle of the night. My mother climbed the stairs and offered her help so I could sleep. I brushed her off; he was my baby, dammit. She stood patiently at my side as I tried to nurse him, to comfort him, as he cried and cried. Soon I joined him in tears, and mother took him from my arms and walked the floor and sang five thousand, nine hundred and fifty three verses of “Bye Baby Bunting” until he fell asleep again.

Soon came the days when I wondered if maybe his REAL mother wouldn’t show up to claim him. I was so tired. I couldn’t go to work. I couldn’t cook. John survived on hot dogs and asparagus, any food he could grab with his hands. Diapers went unwashed, as I struggled up from exhaustion. The doctor diagonosed mononucleosis. The midwife diagnosed pregnancy. They were both correct.

Two babies? Two? I didn’t even want one.

Wil popped out. That’s what he did. He hit terra firma with a vengeance, and his name was apt.
Wil was the child my father told me, in so many words, was my karma. You have no idea how many times I wanted to take back my childhood antics when Raising him. He was the child I had to hide from in order not to beat to death. He was the child I had to throw screaming fully clothed into the shower in order to shock him out of his screams, bring him back to reality, then cuddle and sing to him to let him know he is loved.

This ain’t Dr. Spock, folks. This is the Jane Bland method of child rearing.

It’s funny now, that they are grown and I’m alone, what they remember and what I remember. Things that were minor to me, that have left my thought processes, they occasionally return to me. I struggle to remember the incident, yet I cannot. And they turn around and glare at me, or hug me and kiss me, and tell me that it was burned into their memories, it changed the course of their lives, they could never forgive me enough, or thank me enough, or love me enough for doing what I don’t remember. Go figure.

Things have happened to them over the course of their years. I try to tell them that they won’t remember how that girl shunned them, or how they got into trouble, or any of those things when they get older. I don’t. I know this to be a fact. That life changing incident which seemed so important at one point in their lives will diminish with time. The lessons they have learned from it will stay with them, but the incident itself will diminsh.

Son John decided one day last week to get on a bus and go to Seattle. I knew he was going for good, but he didn’t. I spent the day sobbing, tears of sadness or tears of joy, I could not distinguish. I remember the day I left home, got on the train and travelled 1,200 miles not knowing what I would find when I got there. I was proud of him, scared for him, and couragous for both of us. He was named after Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a book I gave my parents when I left home, to test my wings. I can only hope he flies proud, and free.

Son Wil procreated. He and his darling wife Darcy bring the grandson by every now and again. I feel more like Auntie Mame than grandma, but what the heck. He’s got a good grandma on the other side of the family tree. But, I do have the advantage of knowing all five thousand, nine hundred and fifty three verses of “Bye Baby Bunting”. Young Preston looks just like his father, and there’s that little vindictive part of me that hopes he is as subborn, as forthright, and as sure as his father. But that’s just to teach Wil a lesson.

I’m Jane Bland, and I raised men. Maybe not the best way, they are not college graduates. Maybe not the best way, I did it alone. Well, not really alone, but with the help of a lot of friends, and later on, their father. Maybe they won’t turn out to contribute large things to humanity. Maybe they’ll just turn out to be good neighbors. But they did turn out to be loving, compassionate men, not bums on the street. If I’ve done nothing else in my life, at least I did this right. I raised men.

I’m Jane Bland, and my story continues. Until next time.

Beth Lock

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