Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Mother Department

Motherhood was never for me. I knew from a young age that it wasn't my choice. I've known people who were not meant for motherhood but went ahead with it anyway, a sorrow for them and their kids to struggle through.

But I've found something in my neighborhood I never thought I'd find: children who enchant me. Just the other day I came out on my porch to find this batch had lined themselves up to have their picture taken. (Apparently word has gotten around that Petrea likes to take pictures.) I snapped a few before they realized I'd started, so they're just waiting here, not posing yet.

These small individuals are just like every other individual, which is to say not one of them is like anyone else. Each of them is a special heart, a special brain, a unique person preparing to contend with the world.

John and I have always said we "lucked out in the neighbor department" in Pasadena. Good people on all sides. That includes the children. Gee, I wonder where they get that?

Not everyone is meant to be a parent. Some of us are perhaps meant to be those people down the block who let folks act silly at their house.
I don't regret my choice not to have kids. But I hasten to add, I'm thrilled with our choice of neighbors.

I also lucked out in the mother-in-law department. Phyllis welcomed me from day one. I love how she has advice on hand if I need it (and I do need it), but she never forces it on me. She's fearless, too: she forges ahead with projects that interest her, art forms she wants to explore and technology she wants to learn. Nothing stops her. Here's my favorite picture of John's mother Phyllis, aka Diva:
It wasn't taken in Pasadena but on Whidbey Island, Washington. Phyllis had organized a family reunion there to honor her mother. That reunion brought together a family that had been scattered for years. I like this shot for a couple of reasons: partly because John and his father confer in the background, but mostly because Phyllis takes her place in the foreground, and in her family, as matriarch.

Happy Mother's Day.


Cafe Observer said...

Neighborhoods on the rise & alive have children.

And, I've know people who were meant for parenthood but didn't go forward with it. Anyway, a disappointment for the resta us on this planet. If anyone should be parents it should be good, responsible people.

Wunderful pics & Happy Mom's Day!

J.J. in L.A. said...

I wasn't cut out for children of my own...but I have 8 nieces and nephews who I love to bits. The neighbors, on the other hand? ; )

I'm in Temple City.

Dina said...

Great neighbor pics.
I'm grateful that you explained all this, Petrea.
It's sorta like my recent discovery that it would be nice if women could proceed directly into grandmotherhood.

Shell Sherree said...

A really beautiful post, Petrea - thank you! I always felt having kids was something other people did. We're very happy with our life. But I can still appreciate adorable kids when they happen along ... like our niece and nephew and the ones in your photos! {PS: The downside is that our kitties never get themselves organised to buy gifts on Mother's Day. Bummer.}

Laurie said...

Oh, I just adore you Petrea. What a wonderful post. As for the role you play in kids' lives... I think it might just be cool fairy godmother! (Although my daughter still refers to you as "that pretty lady.")

Virginia said...

What a beautiful post Petrea. Thank you! Those cutie patooties are so adorable. I'll bet they love coming to your house. Come to think of it, I think I'd love to come to your house too!

Anonymous said...

ginab: I must participate today. Rachael Ballenger Burchard gave us Petrea, whom you know and love, Gina, whom you know a little, Stuart, who is the best, smartest, handomest, and most successful brother in the world, and Margot, who takes care of us all, in her way. None of this would exist without Rachael's fierce determination to carve her own path, to write perfect poetry, to live with passionate integrity, to love unconditionally (as she understood it), and to never rest. We love you, RCB, and we miss you. Happy Mother's Day.

Latino Heritage said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Latino Heritage said...

Dame Janet Baker wrote that she felt that her career in opera would not allow her to give children the time and attention they needed. She knew that her art would not leave her be, so she chose not to have children. If we are lucky we get to listen to our hearts and minds making a choice that is best for us. Being an elder/mentor is something that we can all be whether or not we bear stretch marks.

J+P said...

You talkin' 'bout my mother!?

Susan C said...

Your neighbor children are in deed enchanting. Are they the same tykes who were examining sidewalk bugs a few weeks ago?

My sister-in-law was also very clear that motherhood was not for her, and she was taking no chances. Her husband had a vasectomy one week after the wedding.

Petrea said...

GinaB: Thank you for speaking the words about RCB that I couldn't come up with today.

Thanks, Cafe.

Hi JJ!

Dina, I think you must be a great grandma. It's cool to have an archaeologist in the family.

Shell: Boz doesn't buy gifts either, but he's creative. He makes things for me all the time.

Laurie, it's an easy role for me to play, I don't have to do much. I'm going to have to meet your very intelligent daughter one of these days.

Come on over, Virginia. I'll get out the special dishes and bring out the good wine.

Well said, Latino Heritage.

Yes, J+P. Thank you for sharing.

We have lots more, Susan C. All of them enchanting. These are the ones who come over most often. As for your sister-in-law, I hope they talked about that before the wedding. Certain surprises are no fun!

altadenahiker said...

I love sassy kids with spirit. Great portrait!

Linda Dove said...

I love all these photos because of the little narratives alive in each of them...on the faces, in the background, in the hand expressions. Just great!

USelaine said...

Beautiful tribute to every one of them (yo momma, John!).

Ms M said...

Lovely, thoughtful commentary. Thank you.

Petrea said...

Thanks, everyone.