When I first came up with the idea of an essay contest, I emailed my mom right away.
“Don’t get your feelings hurt or anything, but since we are related it might not be fair for me to let you enter. I wouldn’t want anyone to think I was biased when you won.”
However, once I made the decision to post all the essays that were submitted, I received this email:
Dear Mrs. Wilson,
Since your contest is no longer competitive (unless you have gotten a slew of entries lately), I thought I might throw my hat (or essay, in this case) into the ring. If you don’t want to publish a piece by an old woman who is vaguely related to you, I understand.
This is the kind of humor I grew up with my whole childhood. She is not what you would call a “big” personality and certainly not loud or boisterous. Yet she has a way of commanding attention in any room with her charm and wit. My mother is articulate, kind, well-read, an amazing story-teller and an incredibly talented writer. In a post about my mom, I wrote,
“One of the things I have always admired about my mom is her ability for words. It was her passion for writing that inspired mine. My whole life I have looked to her for guidance in really creating and perfecting my craft.”(from The Mother Load)
I could sing her praises all day, but you would be best served by reading her blog, Coming East, and getting to know her yourself.
A Little Bit About Susan
While listening to NPR one day, I heard a writer declare, “Unless you’ve had a tragic life, you can’t write anything truly interesting.” Since I’ve led a remarkably happy life with no more than the usual amount of sorrow, you might find nothing I say very interesting. But if you are like me and think the writer on NPR was spouting a bunch of poppycock, you might enjoy some of my posts because they are heartfelt and reflect reality for many of us, people who are just trying to live our lives day by day and find joy and laughter in the small moments.
So that you will understand my perspective, I will tell you a little about myself. I went to college in the ’60′s (UCONN—Go Huskies!), raised three beautiful children, have been happily married since 1972 to my best friend, and retired in 2008 after being a classroom teacher for many years and the academic dean of a large middle school for seven. I decided to start this blog for no other reason than I thought it might be fun, and when it is no longer fun for me, I will stop.
Togetherness Is Not Overrated
My best pajama day remembrance isn’t a day at all but a particular time in my life as a young mother. We lived in an old white farmhouse in rural Connecticut, across from cow pastures and dairy barns. We belonged to a natural food co-op, I made all our bread from scratch, and I was a La Leche League leader with two children, one an infant, the other a toddler. In case you aren’t familiar with La Leche League, it is an organization which promotes good mothering through breastfeeding. Once a month I would hold our meeting in my front parlor with a zillion kids running through the halls in various stages of pandemonium and chaos while I hunkered down with a couple dozen postpartum women, pendulous, milk-engorged breasts exposed to lustily squawking infants.
One of the philosophies that came out of our La Leche League group was the notion that the closer you are and the more time you spend with your little ones when they are young, the better base you’ve given them to become strong, independent young adults. Hence, we were very close as a young family, so much, in fact, that we even slept together as a family. My husband and I managed that by putting our double mattress and box springs on the floor, without a frame, next to a single mattress and box springs. Our bed stretched nearly from one side of the room to the other. When my son was an infant, he slept next to the wall so he wouldn’t fall off the bed, I slept next to him so I could nurse in the middle of the night, my husband was next to me so we could pretend that we were still like any other normal married couple, and our daughter slept next to her daddy.
On most nights falling asleep was not a problem. On others, as I was trying to sleep amidst the cacophony of my husband’s snores, my daughter’s slumbering giggles, and my infant’s grunts and snorts, I wondered why I ever read The Family Bed. And then there was the time I put my nursing nightgown on backwards and didn’t discover it until someone let me know at 2 a.m. Boy, did he let me know!
We lived and slept that way for nearly three years, though as the kids got older, we put them side by side so my husband and I could snuggle. Our son still would sometimes wake in the middle of the night for a quick snack from Mommy to lull him back to sleep. I remember one night I woke to hear my daughter saying to her groggy, confused little brother, “Stop it, M. I’m not Mommy!” Yes, we La Leche League women did nurse our children for a long time. Those are some of the best pajama memories I have.
Our family bed ceased to be when we moved to Philadelphia and had our third child. Philadelphia seemed a tad more civilized. Plus, the other two children were at an age where they needed their own space, and I think my husband and I needed our own, too. I am a little sad, though, that our youngest never experienced the family bed.
Our children all managed to grow up and become well-adjusted, independent adults, so despite the skeptics who insisted we were smothering our children and they would have adjustment issues later on in life, the family bed did nothing but draw us closer and make us stronger as a family. Now our children live in cities far away, and we miss them more and more each passing year, but as I think of those early days in the life of our family, I look back and smile at those wonderful years when we all put on our jammies and climbed into the same bed together.
Read more from Susan at Coming East.