Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What Does Your Mother Do For a Living?

My mom was an education major in college. She went to Ole Miss, but moved to Huntsville with my dad before her graduation so he could work for the Space Program. She turned down being the president of her sorority to marry my dad and move with him to Alabama. I'm sure it was a tough one, but I think she made the right decision. After they moved to Jackson she finished up her education and got her degree from Bellhaven. She really never felt confident in a classroom, so she tutored and then worked retail for a bit.

She left the work force for a couple of decades to be a stay at home mom. She now works part time in the Bridal Registry at Batte Furniture. I'm pretty sure that making sure that the ignorant young brides of today know what a Demitasse cup is unequivocally her calling.

I read a lot of "mommy blogs". Full of surprises, aren't I? Some of these blogs are really positive and it feels like the person writing them never has a bad day. I hate that. Just Kidding. Kind of. Anyway, some of them are very, very real. Sometimes, I feel like in an effort to "keep it real"(something I strive for on my blog), these women fill every post with complaints. And a lot of it is complaints about child rearing. I hear it in real life, too.

These moms lament the boring nature of staying home with a child full time. They complain about the tedious "work" of playing with a toddler. They bemoan the fact that they have limited adult interaction. And they jokingly say they despise Sesame Street characters. They are "too cool for school". Or rather, they are too cool for their children.

I won't say I've never had those feelings. I won't even say that I've never blogged about them. But it is not where I find myself most days.

And I think that is due, in large part, to my own mother and her attitude toward raising my sister and me. My mom did not work a day outside the home from the day I came home from the hospital until the day my sister graduated high school. But I think that if someone ever made a BonBon reference* about her to me, I'd have to work hard to resist punching them in the face.

[*You know.....the typical stereotype of the stay at home mom sitting on the couch eating BonBons and watching Oprah as her children play quietly in another room.]

In fact, my mom did not watch a single talk show, soap opera, or morning show during our entire childhood. I do think she watched some television in the evenings with my dad, but ask her much of anything related to pop culture during the late eighties and early nineties and unless it's child related, she pretty much has no idea.

Because she was simply too busy. She and my dad waited *ten* years to even began to try to have children, because once she had us she wanted to devote herself fully to our care. And that she did. She spent hours playing "Mother, May I?" in the backyard with us. She made every single activity, like going to the grocery store or getting ready for bed, a fun adventure. She hardly ever lost patience with my endless questions and my ridiculous anxieties. She read an unbelievable amount of literature to us. She threw the most fantastic birthday parties. She totally immersed herself in mothering.

But that is not the impressive part. The impressive part is that she took such joy in every moment of it. Of course, I am sure that those aforementioned mommies do not often tell their children how boring and uninteresting they are. But, there's a thing called a vibe and there's no telling how much of it they are picking up on. I asked my mom about it when Ann Peyton was born. She said honestly she really did enjoy us that much. I think part of it has to do with how much she and my dad struggled to have us once they decided to start trying and part of it is just her nature.

I know that some women are more suited to the tasks of spending their day with a small child than others and there is nothing wrong with that; different parents "click" with their children at different ages. I am also fully aware that this type of "child centered" parenting is not without it's faults.

But that is not the point of this post. The point is to say that my mom did her "job" wonderfully. Beautifully. Seemingly effortlessly.

She is my inspiration in so many ways.

Monday, February 1, 2010

What Does Your Father Do for a Living?

My dad is an engineer. He has had three jobs over the course of his career.

When he was at Ole Miss he took an aptitude test that said he should be a doctor, but he is pretty squeamish, so he decided to go with the second recommendation which was engineering.

My dad is brilliant and I don't just say that because he is my dad. After he graduated from Old Miss, he went directly to work for the Space Program. He has always been very fascinated with astronomy (he built his own telescope), so he was very excited when he was chosen for a job at Boeing Aerospace in Huntsville, Alabama.
The telescope that Daddy built- the second picture is from an Outer Space themed birthday party I had one year!

He actually worked on the design team for the Apollo 13 mission to the moon. He and his group worked on the Lunar Rover, which is the space craft that the astronauts were to use once they got on the moon. My parents have the plans hanging in the master bathroom at their house.
He is very humble about it, but he has some amazing stories if you know to ask him. For example, when problems occurred due to explosion causing a decreased oxygen suppy. The astronauts ended up circling the moon and coming straight home. During that time (about three days) my dad and his coworkers sat at their desks twenty four hours a day and were instructed to be prepared to answer a phone call from the lowest NASA technician "up to, and including, the President of the United States". He was younger than I am now. I cannot imagine the pressure. He said that everyone was praying for the astronaut's safe return, but secretly he was also praying he would not get a call from the president!

After working at Boeing for awhile, my mom and dad wanted to move back to Mississippi. My Dad joined a National Guard unit to avoid going to Vietnam and he wanted to get in one in Mississippi. So, Daddy took a job with Mississippi Valley Gas Company. He worked there for over twenty five years and really worked his way up almost to the very top of the company. I remember visiting him at his office and going on to conventions in Destin with all his associates.
About ten years ago, the company was bought out and the new company filled his position with one of their own people. He got a nice severance package though, and so he was able to do what he had been wanting to do for year- start his own business.

In his fifties and nearing retirement age for most people, my Dad seized the opportunity and became a true entrepreneur. The business he and his partner (who had also worked for the Gas Company) formed is a computer business called Enduser. Daddy has a team of techs and they service the computers of several businesses and doctor's offices in Jackson. In fact, in 2004, when Hurricane Katrina hit, Enduser was in charge of all the computers in the FEMA building in Jackson.

I am so proud of my dad- from his early days as a "rocket man" to these last few years, when he had the courage to take a risk and start his own business.

Your Father's Birth

I asked my dad about his birth and he knew nothing of it; he said his generation just didn't ask that kind of questions. He likes to say that Peyton and I (and our generation) do a lot of "navel gazing" (meaning analyzing things and asking lots of questions). Anyway, he told me that if I really wanted to know I should call Grandee (my grandmother, his mom) at the Waterford (her retirement home) and ask her.

I was a little unsure about it because 1) she has a really hard time hearing and 2) she really can't remember most of what happened to her yesterday. She'll tell you that herself. It's the kind of thing like she's been asking me since Ann Peyton was six weeks old if she sleeps through the night. She asks me EVERY time she sees me and each time she asks at least three times, at about ten minute intervals. It doesn't really bother me; I just tell her the same thing every time- "She sleeps beautifully. She has since she was a month old". So, I wasn't sure about beleiveing my Dad that she would have lots to tell me.

Okay, I am so glad I went ahead and called her! Her long term memory DEFINITELY makes up for her short term. She was full of details!


Daddy was born on October 13, 1947 here in Jackson, MS. He weighed around 7.5 pounds.

It was a nice fall day and Grandee's parents had come down to Jackson from North Mississippi to wait for their grandson's birth. Grandee went to the bathroom and knew it was "time". Papa (my grandfather) was at work and so they called him and he met them at the hospital.

When they got to the hospital there was a black man running the elevator (only Grandee called him a "colored man") and when they told him to take them to her doctor's floor he said "Oh no sir, I am taking you to the THIRD floor" (which was, of course, where the babies were born).

Grandee was in labor for about three hours. Not bad!

Once Daddy was born, she said she hated it when they took him away from her to take him to the nursery. Papa wrote a letter to his parents describing how beautiful and how perfect he was.

Grandee said she stayed in the hospital about four days and when they first brought her a bowl of water to wash her face she said "Oh no, I can't do this [wash her face after being in labor for three hours], you are going to have to do this for me". I found this hysterical, because to this day, Grandee is a bit of a "damsel in distress".

Grandee told me that she tried to nurse but got an absessed breast when she got home from the hospital (I was surprised she went into all that with me). So Papa had to go buy bottles and then bring them home and sterilize them. She said "I thought Rob was going to starve before we got those bottles here"- she's a bit of a drama queen; I guess I come by it honestly.

She also said that when Daddy was a newborn, Papa would change his sheets in the bassinet by their bed at night (in those days the mother did not get out of bed for a week). She said it scared her to death because he would just pick up Newborn Daddy, put him on his shoulder, and change the sheets while balancing him there. He never dropped him, though!

The last thing she told me was the most important. I finally got up the nerve to ask her- "Did y'all decide after Daddy was born to just have one or did y'all know all along?". [I had asked my Dad before and he said he never asked. That's when he made the "navel gazing" comment.]

She told me that they "would have loved two or three more", but they weren't able to have any more. I don't know if something happened during the delivery or if there were fertility issues and my Dad was a miracle baby or what, but wow! We had all always thought they only wanted one, so I was very shocked!

She also told me she had a bunch of stuff, including Papa's letter to his parents and Daddy's birth certificate that she was about to throw in the "wastepaper basket", but I told her PLEASE not to. I am SO glad I called!

(Look at his little foot!)

Your Mother's Birth

My mom was born on November 11, 1949 in Oxford, Mississippi.
The only thing she "remembers" about the events sorrounding that day is that her brother, Allen (who was around 18 months old at the time) told everyone he had a "sister baby" instead of a baby sister.

What Is Your Mother's Full Name?

My mom's full name is Sarah Ann Jackson Perry. My great great grandmother, my grandmother, Momma, and me all share the name "Sarah". However, she is the first in a (hopefully) long line of double names. She is affectionantly known as Minnie these days.