Thursday, May 21, 2015

I Wish I'd Taken A Parenting Class By Sandy Semerad

A woman handed me a flier with the headline, “May is for Mom’s.” It advertised a class for parents, “who desire a healthy future for their children.”

I wish I’d taken this class when my daughters were babies. My main source of instruction came from Dr. Benjamin Spock’s Baby and Child Care.

I have made plenty of parenting mistakes, no doubt. A major boo-boo was trying to raise my daughters differently from how I’d been brought up.

Looking back now, I’m grateful for my upbringing, although I deeply regret losing my dad when I was seven. A heart attack killed him.

After Dad died, I worried about Mom. Alice Larson Hodges was eccentric and talented, adventuresome and unpredictable.

She paraded around Geneva, Alabama in bright clothes, big hats and jewelry. “Gossips be damned.”

She wore loud bracelets. They clanged as she played the piano at the First Baptist church. She often sang louder than the choir.
 She took me and my sister out of school in the middle of the year and drove to New Mexico from Alabama to see the Caverns in New Mexico. During the summer, she stuck us in camp while she studied art.
She was the oldest daughter of Norwegian immigrants and once told me she married Daddy because he promised to buy her a piano and teach her to drive. After Daddy died, she never married again.
She loved water and painted beautiful pictures of water, but never learned to swim. Yet, she encouraged me and Alice Kay to become good swimmers.
She raised two daughters alone while preaching: “Cleanliness is next to Godliness. A stitch in time saves nine. Early to bed, early to rise, makes a woman health wealthy and wise. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. You won’t like most of what you do every day, but if you do one thing you like, you should be happy.”
She seemed fearless.
She single handedly drove us to New York City to see the musical “My Fair Lady.” During our trip, we toured the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty.
When we arrived in New York, in the middle of the night, Alice Kay and I were asleep in the back seat. At the Brooklyn Bridge, she awakened us, shouting, “Wake up, girls, New York City.”

I could go on and on about her. How she filmed us as if we were movie stars. Thank God, we were able to salvage the rolls of film.
Alice Kay had some of the film spliced together, chronicling our lives as children, teenagers, young adults and mothers. In the beginning of the video, Mother is young and beautiful, smiling for the camera. My father is dapper and handsome, puffing on a cigarette.
One thing’s for sure, Mother never failed to surprise me. She seemed to embrace spontaneity.
I’m a little spontaneous, too, along with having a highly developed imagination. I escaped reality by making up stories in my head, which eventually culminated in writing novels. But the novel writing began years after she suffered a stroke and was in a coma.
The doctors offered little hope of her recovery. Refusing to accept this diagnosis, I kept talking to her.
She eventually opened her eyes and said, “I’m so proud of you.”
Mother is no longer on this earth, but I feel her spirit every day, and I know she did her best, without the benefit of child-rearing classes.
And I’m grateful I had an exciting mother. She taught me, by example, how to live outside my comfort zone. I might not have learned to take risks if Mother had been overprotective and fearful.

I never doubted her love, although she seldom said the words, I love you. I suppose that’s why I never miss an opportunity to tell my daughters, Rene and Andrea, and granddaughter Cody how much I love them and how proud I am of them. They’re extraordinary, despite my lack of parenting lessons.
For more information, visit my website: Sandy Semerad 

And here's my latest novel, A MESSAGE IN THE ROSES, only .99 today: