A few years ago Drew’s hubby Rob referred to me as a hippy. I laughed. Wrong generation I said. I’m a ’70s girl. And then… the article. “Signs you were raised by a Hippy.” Oh sure some of them were ridiculous. I didn’t have a doula but I did tell their birth stories a lot. And my kids have normal names. But they did wear cloth diapers. Their immunization was limited and I didn’t let them eat cheerios because of the TSP. They watched TV but I didn’t allow it in the living room and we do have close to 1500 books. I composted, recycled and grew tomatoes. We had an environmentally conscious flushing policy and shower time limits as well as a lax attitude towards nudity. They had treats although I made my own fruit leather and dehydrated bananas. We didn’t censor TV and “cursing” was just normal conversation. We went to church but there are quite a few Buddhas in the home. That smell might be incense or smudging or… um… something else. We didn’t use Tylenol for fevers but they have vivid memories of garlic oil in their ears. Grated apple for a tummy ache. Immune tincture that cures everything. Natural healing was normal. Crystals. Reading rune stones. Seeing aura’s. The lady ghost who lives in the closet. All normal. The article equated God to Jerry Garcia but everyone knows I’m a Zeppelin fan. And favourite children’s album? Doesn’t everyone have a copy of Harry Nilssen’s “The Point”? But we didn’t believe in curfews or bedtimes. We never told them to do homework. They didn’t wear tie dye. But I did and still do. Summers they were free range at the cabin and winters they had a house key. By age 10 they had bus passes. We brought them to concerts because babysitters were expensive and music is the most beautiful language in the world. My 2 year old crawled around on a blanket while my 10 year old danced to The Weight when Robbie Robertson and The Band were in town one beautiful June evening. So I guess according to the article my children may have been raised by a hippy. Luckily their Dad was a fringe conservative who responsibly suggested we move the blanket a little father away from the pot smokers.
Every generation sets out to be better parents than their own parents. We want to fix all of the things our folks did wrong. In the process though, we make other mistakes. There is no perfect parent just like there is no perfect child. I have to say the best thing that ever happened to me was becoming a Mom when I wasn’t expecting it. As a young Mom I was completely stupid, I hated to hear her cry so I just carried her around all the time. She was in a Snuggli baby carrier for most of her first year. I breast fed my kids forever because it was cheaper. I made my own baby food because it was cheaper. They wore cloth diapers because it was cheaper. Being young and poor dictates a lot of your life choices. Grandparents babysat because it was cheaper. Or we brought our kids wherever we went. Clothes were homemade or hand me down. Meat was not a daily food staple. Children were quizzed on how many fruits and vegetables they ate each day. Seven was the required amount. There were three rules in our house. Don’t lie. Don’t make me say it twice. Don’t talk back. That was it. They were all given money to budget and do as they saw fit. No questions asked. There were responsibilities as well. I don’t fold socks or put away clothes. I wash and fold things and place them into individual baskets. Put your own stuff away. We had a large calendar on the kitchen wall and each family member had a different colour pen. All activities were on the calendar. If it wasn’t, it didn’t happen. We were all busy running here and there as the family grew older. No last minute stuff allowed. As far as school went, we helped if asked. We hired tutors if asked. If you fail or pass that is on you. My kids aren’t dummies. They have average intellect and how far they went in life was up to them. We didn’t push in any way. One daughter wishes we had. So now she can push her kids. See how it works out. I am not saying either way is right or wrong. It is about choices. My choices were mainly due to my philosophy of taking the path of least resistance. What is easiest for me in the long run?
In the later years there was very little rebellion. As one child said, there was nothing to rebel against. The oldest pushed the envelope a bit more than the others . Usually because she never came home when she said she would. I worried about her. This was before cell phones and texting. I let the kids choose their curfews because I figured they would come home when the last friend had to be home. So as far as I was concerned there was no reason to be late. JUST PHONE ME!!! My oldest still panics when she is late for something with me. My childrens rooms were their own space. Private. I didn’t really enter their sanctuary and if the mess was too much we just closed the door. One child wrote on her walls with her friends. Played games of tic tac toe. Drew pictures. Everyone she knew wrote their name and phone number on her wall. All in permanent marker. They made a wall border using fingerpaints. I cried years later when she had moved into her own house and we repainted the room. It was sad. Another child cut pictures from a Michael Jordan book and taped every inch of her walls with the pictures. I cried then as well only it was because she had cut up a book. For me it was sacrilege. I love books. My baby. Well he spent every penny on war hammer and video games. His room was always game ready or in full painting mode. We still have it all. The garage rafters are full.
Children will always fight against their parents. In time when they have their own families they understand a bit better what parenting is all about. It all comes full circle. I learn lots from my kids even now. As for the hippy thing, my Grandkids know I am just Mormor. They don’t really think much about it. It’s just me. No labels. I am their Mormor. Everything about me is just normal to them. There are still times when my kids roll their eyes at some of the things I think, say or do. And wear. Just like their Dad. I think for the most part they realize it wasn’t a bad way to grow up. If nothing else they have learned that being a little different is ok. Music is magic and sports are good for the mind and soul as well as the body. God loves you even if you sleep in on Sunday. For our family, education was just those three things. Music sports and God. School was for making friends and learning social skills. Right wrong or otherwise we did the best we could. It was hard raising kids. My kids were fortunate to have one parent at each end of the spectrum. The flake and the pragmatist. I learned a lot about my own mother while I raised my kids. I have learned that she wasn’t odd or weird or crazy. She was just an older version of me!