Now and then I get just a little sentimental about my sons. About those earlier years of motherhood. Before the three of us became responsible adults (Am I admitting it did take me awhile…). And before the time of the sons caring for this frail little old mother/lady…which isn’t quite here yet…although drawing nearer by the moment! Many of these photos have been posted before but here they are again so grandchildren can take notice of the previous ‘cuteness’ of their now ageing fathers.
The other day it occurred to me that I spend a lot of time posting photos and glowing comments about my amazing grandchildren…and rarely say very much about the formative years of two of the extraordinary people who helped make them the practically perfect young humans they are…yes, that would be my sons, their fathers.
I have two sons, Donald Scott and Steven Jon. Scott was born the month before my 21st birthday and Steven when I was twenty-four years old. So young. In the late 50s/early 60s girls got married just out of high school and soon thereafter had babies. True, many went off to college and then…got married and had babies: in fact almost all girls followed that love and marriage and babies path. I happened to meet and marry a charming young airman stationed in Orlando, Florida and, as a matter of course, became the mother of two lively, bright-eyed, handsome, and curious little boys. What great good luck that really was.
These nice little boys were, fortunately or otherwise, born to a bookish, somewhat introverted mother, and a playful, if often absent, father. At least their dad had actually helped raise younger sisters so he knew a little about small children but I, while loving my sons dearly, had no clue what to do with babies. I’d spent my entire youth hanging out in the woods, reading books, and wishing I were prettier and more clever. Without The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care by Dr. Benjamin Spock it could have all gone wrong, but thanks to the good doctor and, being the plucky little boys that they were, they survived pretty handily.
It turned out that there were far too many relocations and dislocations in the boys’ young lives; although they came through all that too. I suspect the stories they’ve woven of their childhoods are sometimes better in the telling than in the living.
It all started when Steven was nine months old and brother Scott approaching his fourth birthday. The three of us climbed on board a Northwest Airlines plane in snowy Bemidji, Minnesota and flew halfway around the world to Angeles, Pampanga, Luzon, Philippines. The boys thrived there of course; adored by a housekeeper/nanny named Lety and a security guard named Chris, they really did have their own little tropical paradise.
Too soon, just a little less than two years later, it was back home to the US and Seymour Johnson AFB in Goldsboro, North Carolina. Military bases used to be the best of places for young kids. Sheltered, watched over by countless military moms, with playmates galore; also bases provided things to do, places to-be: air shows, pools, safe streets.
Paradise is an elusive location though, and when their dad left for an overseas assignment, the boys, various pets and I eventually wound up in an apartment in Greenville, North Carolina where I could continue a college life started in Goldsboro at East Carolina University. There, I am sorry to say, life was a little more awkward for the boys—their secure buddy-filled lives on base traded for an apartment with mom, a new school and no familiar friends. So it is these decisions, made rather carelessly by me, that I regret…I say ‘sorry, guys’ for being a thoughtless mother; they say (kindly) ‘Hey mom, we had great childhoods, no regrets.’ I do appreciate their considerate take on it, although the truth was probably somewhat different from time to time.
The good news for the boys was their father’s next posting, Holloman AFB in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Back to the good base life, Perhaps this was the last absolutely easy carefree time in their lives. Base school, all those friends with whom to share games and pranks and treats on long summer nights and crisp fall afternoons. They had been exposed to my college life and politically active friends and chose to wear their white-blonde hair longer than the average military kid. This led to dad being chastised a couple of times when his wild little boys were easily identified as part of the pack that put the proverbial dog-poop filled bag on Sergeant WhatHisName’s porch. Fortunately Don was a nice guy who forgave his sons their foibles pretty easily.
What followed all too soon would turn out to be a permanent move to Albuquerque, New Mexico, followed by divorce; a mother too involved in multiple jobs, school, and politics; and several neighborhood and public school changes for the kids as our economic fortunes waxed and waned.
Amazingly enough, Scott and Steven came through it all, a little battered and bruised, but also kind, smart, honest, funny, loyal…way above average human beings in other words. They went to school; they worked; they moved away for awhile, but Steven came back while Scott deserted us for that left-coast oasis of California.
Of course, nice guys like these create families with great partners and exceptional children. They work hard and play even harder as hikers, divers, runners, cyclists, gym rats, and dog wrestlers (a ‘sport’ common to all dog lovers). They are splendid fathers and probably kinder to their mother than she deserves.
So obviously I’m so very proud of these guys. If I’ve made them sound a little too perfect well let me tell you…. Just kidding. I mean you are perfect, guys……….nearly, almost, 99%. Love you.