Friday, March 09, 2007

an enchanted childhood

My childhood was far from perfect. My father left when I was 13 months old. My mother was 35 years old and had never so much as written a check in her life. Suddenly, on top of being mommy to a young toddler and two teenagers, she had to learn how to take care of all the financial aspects of life as well - and fast. To her credit, it was only much later on that I realized how bad off we truly were.

Despite our financial situation, I never went without. Even the things that weren't necessities were supplied somehow. Again, it was only much later that I realized when I got the toy or dress I wanted, my mother would choose to do without something she really needed to get it for me. I'm not saying I always got everything I wanted. But I was not an unhappy child.

We lived in a trailer practically in my Gramma's back yard. I was the youngest grandchild in the family. Yes, Gramma spoiled me shamelessly. In her own poor farmer's wife ways. Homemade bread, cinnamon rolls, popsicles. Sunday dinners of fried chicken - I always got the drumsticks. I can remember Gramma baking pies and always making a little extra crust (sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar) just for me.

I can't remember a time when I didn't have at least one pet. I know we had a series of parakeets when I was very young, which I named Sammy (yes, I knew they were not all the same bird...I guess I just liked the name Sammy). After the birds, there was a hamster, who was also named Sammy. Besides the indoor pets, living out in the country as we did provided me with several barn cats and kittens to call my own, and I had a couple of puppies, too.

I distinctly remember one litter of 4 tabby kittens. Two of them had orange bands at their eyes. I named them each after a different Ninja Turtle (I obviously outgrew the "Sammy" phase). I vaguely remember learning from experience that cats do not, in fact, always land on their feet. I was trying to teach them to fly. Oops.

And then there was Cricket, my pony. Yes, you read that right. As poor as we were, I had a pony. In all honesty, she was actually one of my uncle's ponies that he used to plow the garden and pull his wagon. But she was the only one that was gentle enough for a toddler to ride, so she quickly became "my" pony.

When I wanted a playhouse all my own, my uncle built me a little log cabin in the yard. Complete with Gramma's old kitchen stove (the wood-burning kind), a galvanized tub, an old church pew, and a real window. I would have lived out there if my mom would have let me.

As I look back, I realize that though ours was not a life of financial ease, I would not trade one aspect of my childhood for anything. And I hope that someday I can provide my children with an enchanted childhood of their own.

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This post is an entry in Scribbit's March Write-Away Contest.

1 comment:

scribbit said...

What a lovely reflection on your childhood. It says a lot about your mother and grandmother that you remember it so fondly.