I’ve touched on part of this story a couple of times since I’ve been blogging. How strongly I felt about motherhood. A compelling issue (barring any infertility complications) was when to have kids. I did not want to be an old mom, thus no kids after I turned thirty. You have to remember, I had yet to reach my 19th birthday. Sure is different 45 years later. Some gals don’t think about childbearing until their late 30’s or early 40’s. Even more important to me was not having my kids close together. Could not visualize maintaining my sanity if I had more than one child in diapers. I know this was not the norm, but I felt very strongly about it. Still do.
|Shannon, about 5…|
But spacing children does have some disadvantages. You now have this amazing 4 year old who is capable of reading, writing, doing her own laundry, and suddenly you start feeling the urge to have another baby. Back in comes the crib, bottles, diapers, (yes, real cloth ones from the Neanderthal age) for another 3 years. Can be a vicious cycle. Quite often when children are spaced 4 or more years apart, they aren’t very close to one another. Still, it was how I foresaw being the best mom I could be. Ready to send one off to kindergarten, when the house was filled with the sounds of a newborn.
|Joshua 1, swinging while I hang up the sheets, 1976…|
Add to the mix our little surprise package named Adam. Not exactly planned and at a time when I thought the baby paraphernalia had disappeared from the house forever. Adam wasn’t that far behind Shannon almost 9, and Joshua, 4-1/2, but we didn’t think we could or would have any more kids. We are thankful every day since he joined our family. But we also didn’t want any more. Family finances were tight on one income. Braces, corrective shoes, constant doctor’s bills and prescriptions. We could only afford one car for the first 2 decades of marriage. Meaning many days, I was car-less and stuck at home. Then there were 3 future college educations to fret about. It was with no regret that I had a tubal ligation the day after Adam was born in 1979. This was a couple months before I celebrated my 29th birthday.
|Adam 1, enjoying his first Oreo, 1980…|
I packed school lunches, mostly because we couldn’t afford 3 hot lunch tickets. Peanut butter and jelly, fruit, chips, juice boxes, and something homemade for dessert. Brownies, banana bars, chocolate chip, peanut butter, or oatmeal cookies, pumpkin bread. From the time I finally learned how to bake, there has been baked goods in our house. Always.
|Davenport, 1984. Josh 9, Adam 5, Shannon 13…|
Shannon’s appetite I would deem normal. Although for years she could eat her weight in Cheetos. (Not the soft ones) Some gene she inherited from my Mom, who loved them too. Shannon never gained an ounce, probably because she off-set her daily salty snack with 3 oranges. She could eat oranges until the inside of her mouth had canker sores. They she’d have to lay off the citrus for a few days, consuming something other than foods orange in color. She was our fussiest eater. She never really cared for meat. The rest of us couldn’t get enough beef, pork or turkey.
|Cut out cookie for holidays. I’ve made them since 1975…|
It started about the time Joshua was in middle school, Adam, early elementary. The moment they jumped off the bus, I could hear their stomachs growling. Ravenous, to the point of nibbling each other’s arms. This trumped up, over the top, steroid type appetite hit my boys early. Eager to get home, they would happily consume a four-course meal as their after school snack. Impatiently waiting another 2-1/2 endless hours before a nice home cooked supper. Which they devoured like they hadn’t seen one morsel of food for 3 days. Where did they put all that food? Both bordered on scrawny. They just couldn’t seem to get enough to eat. Ever.
|Cold lunch or after school snack, Hunt’s pudding cups…|
So this mom had now made them some sort of breakfast, although many times it was a variety of cold cereals, which they loved, or those little packs of instant oatmeal (peaches and cream, apple-cinnamon) which they could never eat just one. Try 3. Sometimes I’d make French toast, they might have pop tarts (gross), or toast and jam. But pancakes, eggs and waffles were weekend breakfast family fare. As they were heading out to the bus, I’d hand out their cold lunches. Sometimes in brown bags, some years in fancy lunch pails. Josh still has his Dukes of Hazzard lunch box.
|Josh took a Dukes of Hazzard lunch box to school, early ’80’s…|
Two meals down, 2 to go. Yes, that’s 4 a day, besides after supper snacks while we watched TV, or a rented movie. It was an unusual day when I did not have a big supper planned. I cooked every night, but Friday. Which was usually pizza from Little Caesar’s. John would pick up a couple on his way from work. We saved big bucks by eating them at home, because we didn’t have to buy everyone drinks. We always had pop in the house. And as bad as it sounds, we had pop quite often with our supper. If our supper included potatoes or anything with gravy, the boys knew they were doomed. Josh would yell out, ever hopeful he was wrong, “hey Ma, is this milk meal? Or can we have pop?”
|Potato salad not their favorite, but it was a pop meal….|
One of the kids main complaints about supper was chicken. And I really wasn’t a huge chicken fan. But John had a favorite meal he could eat every week. At least once. Barbecued chicken on the grill. With a side of veggies and potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil. Didn’t matter if it 92 degrees in the shade or 16 below, he’d be happy as a pig in mud if he could plop a couple of cut up chickens, on the grill. I believe none of the kids ever liked that meal. Hubs could gnaw his way through all the worthless, throw away pieces. Necks, backs, wings. Being the youngest of 5 kids when he was growing up, by the time the platter of chicken got to him, those were the only pieces left. But besides chicken on the grill or meatloaf, (how is it possible that not one of them like meatloaf?) I rarely had complaints about my supper menu.
|Josh and Adam would make their own box after school in the ’80’s…|
Some of their favorite supper meals were tacos, spaghetti, stroganoff, tuna casserole, goulash, wild rice with pork chops, or chops on the grill. Although Josh and Adam were 4-1/2 years apart, and were quite close, they parted ways when it came to leftovers of their favorite meals. Now this would be called ‘Extreme Sibling Rivalry Hiding Favorite Foods Sport.’ We’ve always had a second fridge in the basement or garage for extra pop, milk, eggs, beer, night crawlers. After supper, I’d divide up any leftovers, rationing them in small containers. When it came to their favorites, one or the other would wait until I had just clicked off the kitchen light (this, after both came in while I was still cleaning up, complaining that they were still hungry! Are you fricking kidding me? I don’t have the kitchen cleaned up from your last hour of grazing!)
|Yeah, I should have bought Chef Boyardee stock…|
Back to the their rather odd leftover obsession. If supper consisted of their favorite foods, both of them wanted ALL the leftovers. But not as much as they wanted the other one NOT to have any. Honestly, I can’t tell you how many times (hundreds) I found a tub of leftover spaghetti, cheesecake, or stroganoff covered in mold. Snugly hidden underneath the lettuce, or way back in a drawer 3 months later. All because Adam didn’t want Josh to eat it or the other way around. But they also had forgotten about it. So they both missed out on numerous leftovers because it was a sad day in the life if one got a leftover helping of spaghetti, but there was none for the other.
|No leftovers to fight about. Josh and Adam feeling the love, 1984…|
After coming up with 3 meals a day for 5 people on a tight budget, I threw in the towel for their after school smorgasbord. Simply did not have the mindset in place to fix that 4th meal for them daily. It needed to be quick, easy, somewhat nutritious, and filling. Easy enough for each to do themselves, without making a sink full of dishes. (Nope, I had no dishwasher until I’d been married 25 years. Now I’ve had 2 and never use it) Josh and Adam could each eat a complete box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Well, there’s 2 pans dirty. At the time, they cost about a quarter a box.
|Adam loved American squirt cheese…|
Frozen 8″ pizzas from Totino’s kept in the freezer by the dozen. Bags of Hot Pockets. Most of what they ate could be microwaved. The food industry was just recognizing this after school eating phenomenon. Now boxed in containers with a foam cover, making it easy to nuke it, without dumping it in another dish. Adam was crazy about clam chowder soup that came in green foam bowls. Josh preferred Chef Boyardee mini ravioli, or spaghetti and meatballs (an insult to this mom since I make the best spaghetti sauce in the world). Both Josh and Adam doctored their ravioli, putting half in a bowl, topped with a slice of American cheese, then the rest of the can. Heat it, stir it up, changing the red marinara sauce to a orangey, cheesy sauce. Sprinkle Parmesan on top and it was good for the main course. Adam could squirt half a can of Easy Cheese, spraying it right in his mouth. Ugh. Then a Hostess Twinkie, Cupcake, Snoball, sometimes Little Debbie. Which might keep them full until supper a couple hours later.
|The kids loved homemade goodies, but had to have Hostess in the house too…|
Outside to run off all that food. They seldom stayed in after school. While Shannon would hit the books when she breezed through the door, the boys would not. Their homework issues would have to be forced on them after supper. Now Shannon was done with her homework and chores, if she had extra curricular activities she was good to go. But the boys were much younger and did not have a lot of extra activities at night yet.
|Josh and Adam running off their after school meal, 1987…|
All the kids loved when I got groceries. Shannon and Adam would forage through their favorite cupboards, checking out what I had gotten. Joshua, on the other hand had a quirky habit of his own to find out what I had and hadn’t brought home from the store. He’d read my Meijer receipt like it was a top 10 bestseller. Memorizing exactly what I bought. He’d worry about finding everything later. I don’t know about you, but there weren’t many hiding spots in our house, basement or garage. They always knew where everything was. Doesn’t mean that would help much if my keys were misplaced. But if I tried to hide a good box of candy? Forget it. They could sniff that out before the cellophane was off…