Sunday, February 04, 2007

My whole childhood was a dress rehearsal for this life.

This weekend my daughter was complaining that she was bored. I have tried to explain to her that it is her job to find something to do to entertain herself, and I know for a fact that she has plenty to do. I think that when she is saying she is bored, she is more trying to tell me that I need to spend some quality time with her, which is fine.
So, we got to talking about life, and things that I liked to do when I was her age. It has been about a hundred years since I thought really long and hard about any of it. I remembered that when I was just a little bit younger than she is right now I was obsessed with playing house with my best friend. When we still lived in the apartment complex, she lived upstairs and I lived downstairs. We had a bell that we connected between our bedroom windows with a string so we could get each other attention any time of the night. If the bell rang we would stick our heads out the window and talk. Her mother was deaf, so it was not a problem for her when I rang the bell, but my parents were not deaf, so we had to try to be a little more sly when she rang me.
During the day we would take our dolls and all of our doll clothes and set up house on the landing in the stairwell between the apartments. We would spend entire days out there pretending to be mommies to our favorite dolls.
When we got a little older we started to construct really intricate doll houses out of cardboard boxes. I'm surprised that neither of us went into architecture as adults because I remember some of the houses we built were pretty complex. In my house there was always a mommy and a very elaborate baby activity area. The houses I built were very child centered.
As I was telling my daughter all of this she was laughing like she could not believe that all I ever did was sit around and pretend to be a mommy with my friends. I asked her if she ever played house. It suddenly occurred to me that she has never really been attached to any baby dolls like I was a kid. I mean she had a few favorite toys, but they were stuffed Pokemon, not babies.
She said that the closest she ever came to playing house was when, in Kindergarten, she enjoyed organizing the cupboards of the playhouse at the school. She said that it would frustrate her though, because as soon as she was done the other kids would mess it up. (I almost said, "Welcome to motherhood.")
This leads me to wonder about other mothers I know. I know a few that are not natural mothers at all. They do all right, but you can always tell that they would rather be doing something else. They seem more duty bound than anything else. I always get the feeling that they feel like they are doing their time. If given the chance to do it over they would probably choose not to have become parents.
I wonder if they played with dolls when they were kids? Is it something that is a little more predestined than I had originally thought? Are good mothers born and not made after having kids? Are not such good mothers really going against their own nature to do what they think they are supposed to do since they are women?
I'm sure there is no simple black and white answer, it was just something to contemplate on a lazy Sunday. Personally, I've always believed that the one major thing that makes a good parent is having a strong sense of empathy.


Anonymous said...

I could see how women who played house when they were kids would be more apt to be better parents as adults. Interesting idea.


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