38. You Had Better Hurry Up

Karen and I were having a wonderful time together as newlyweds.  We were learning a lot about each other, enjoying our jobs, and enjoying, for the most part, cookouts at my parents house.  We did, however feel the political background to everything there, of course led by Elinor.  Every conversation seemed to have some political overtone as to how others conducted themselves, how their children behaved, or some such thing.  So after a couple of years we were ready to buy a house.  In choosing the location we wanted to be a little further away from the politics at my parents and a little closer to where we worked.

On one occasion my father asked me if we were going to have children.  “I don’t know, I guess so, why?”  I admit I was a little indignant about the question.  It had the flavor of ‘where are my grandchildren’ to it that no newly married couple wanted to hear.  “Well, if you going to have them, you better hurry up.”  I just looked at him.  I couldn’t think of anything to say.  As I walked away I was thinking ‘what an odd thing for Dad to say to me.

Karen and I talked about it that night.  Yes, we knew we wanted children.  Karen was a natural mother and I had long thought about children but the time was never right.  Karen’s age wasn’t a concern since she was barely 25 at that point.  But we had married when I was 34 and now I was looking at my 36th birthday coming up.  So we started adding up the years.  Did I really want to be teaching my children how to drive when I was nearing retirement?  If they were born right away I would be 52, then 54 when they graduated high school and 58 when they graduated college.

Then I remembered all the generational difficulties that Dad and I had while I was growing up.  I think ours was a special case where each of us had grown up in extreme situations, which made lasting impressions on our ongoing personalities; Dad growing up during the Great Depression and my growing up in the wild 1960s.  Perhaps some of our difficulties however had to do with his age; he was 36 when I was born.  Even at 72 my Dad had all the wisdom in the world.

So we decided that it would be great to begin our family.  We had been looking for a house that was a little closer to where we worked and we found a nice 3-bedroom house in Lakeville.  It was perfect for us; it was 20 miles closer to work and 20 miles further away from home.  That would help give us some space and time away from my parents.  That would be where our first child Sarah Elizabeth was born.

I was born at St. Luke’s Hospital, New Bedford 36 years before and that would be where Sarah would be born as well.  In fact, I was told that so little had been changed at St. Luke’s, it was likely she was born in the same room that I was since there is only one birthing room.  But everything went well; mother and daughter were both healthy and fine.  Karens pregnancy was interesting in that, as she got bigger (to be expected of course) so did I.  The more weight she gained, the more weight I gained.  We laughed about that as time went on but then when Sarah was born I quickly lost the weight, as did Karen and aside from the funny pictures that people had taken of us, it didn’t come up again.

Like all first time parents, we were nervous about this whole parenting thing.  They don’t provide handbooks for this sort of thing.  You just reach down and remember everything you can about how you were raised, you improvise as you go, and you do the best you can.  Hopefully both mother and father were raised properly enough to provide a basis for the next generation.  As I said though, Karen was a natural mother.  Her mother came up from Maryland for a few weeks to help her get some rest and help her get started with some of the basics, but Karen seemed to know what needed to be done right away.  I, of course, was completely clueless.  In almost everything else I was teaching Karen, but not this time.

What I found out pretty quickly was that having a child was just about the most fun you can have in life.  I often said that had I known it would be this much fun I would have had them sooner.  Of course that would have been a big mistake, but Karen knew what I meant.  And so we talked about when to have another one, and how many we wanted to have, and other such things.  My suggestion that ‘6 would be a good number’ was not met with utter horror, but I could tell that perhaps I had gotten a little too enthusiastic.  Karen only insisted that we have an even number.  She didn’t want to have ‘an odd one out’ as they grew up.

So we agreed that if our second child was a boy, then we were done.  If the second child was a girl then we would evaluate whether we wanted to have two more children in an effort to have a boy.  27 months later our son Patrick Michael was born, again in the same room at St. Luke’s Hospital.  And again both mother and son were happy and healthy.  We considered ourselves extremely lucky.  We then decided it would be best for our children if Karen became a stay at home Mom.  It was a financial sacrifice for us, but like so many other decisions we had made in the past and also going forward, this was the right one for us and for our children.

When Patrick was born I was only a few weeks from my 39th birthday.  I would be in my 50s during their formative years and I would need to be constantly conscious of the wide generational gap between us.  I knew and remembered the mistakes my parents had made and I was determined not to repeat them.  Looking back, I think we did all right.

© J T Weaver

About J T Weaver

The author of "Uphill Both Ways," a thought provoking series of stories about life, family, and growing up.
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21 Responses to 38. You Had Better Hurry Up

  1. This is a truly lovely read. You made me think. My son is now 36 and and engaged for the first time. LOL! I had my first child at 20…and I think of him sometimes and wonder what he’s thinking about a family…I do wonder if it occurs to him that he could be retired and helping a teenager pass a driver’s test! Happy Father’s Day, JT.

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  2. tchistorygal says:

    My first mother in law was always pestering us about having children. My first husband was quite unhealthy, and, in fact, had a genetic problem that would have been awful to pass on to any children. Doctors advised us not to have children, and in fact I never even got pregnant. She was so disappointed, but then, so was I. I’m glad you had Sarah and Patrick when you did. You wouldn’t have wanted to wait much longer, I don’t think.

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    • J T Weaver says:

      agree. I did ok with teaching Sarah how to drive but Patrick nearly gave me a heart attack on the Interstate. If I had been much older, that would have been it!! I think that’s going to be a story I’ll have to write down the line sometime.
      How far have you gotten in my story?

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      • tchistorygal says:

        I’ve only gotten through #5, and #38. I love how you number them. What a great idea. I like you static first page, too, but then I was a little unsure (for about 2 seconds) about where I wanted to go next. BTW, yesterday I went to FAVS, not knowing what to expect – favorite people, stories, food, but it was websites. Thank you so much for listing my website there! I am so honored. My husband is off playing poker today, so I’ll have some time to browse around. I’ll talk to you on your blog posts as I read. 🙂 Have a great weekend! 🙂

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        • J T Weaver says:

          You are quite welcome, of course. Love your site.

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        • J T Weaver says:

          It might be best to read in order. You don’t want to skip to the end of the story and ruin the ending 🙂

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          • tchistorygal says:

            OK, but you know that the last shall be first on a blog roll? So if I do my normal thing, that would be to read the most recent things first and read back to where I left off, that system won’t work on your blog. You may want to warn folks. However, personally, I think your story is going to be enjoyable where ever I jump into it! 🙂

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            • J T Weaver says:

              You hit a pet peeve of mine with WordPress. I numbered and re-ordered everything so readers could read the posts like chapters in a book. But the only way to do that in WordPress is to change the publish dates (artificially). The one you want 1st will have the most recent date/time, then #2 is a few minutes later, etc. Of course that screws up the WP Reader because the filename is tied to the release date. You change the date, the link is broken. UGH!!

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              • tchistorygal says:

                I wonder if there is another medium for writing chapter books online. I’m no expert in that. My friend Marcia does that with her private blog. She has every chapter on a separate page, so they are lined up in order in her side menu bar. Her blog roll is for notes to her readers/proofers ie sending them pictures of places or people that have inspired her book. It is really cool. So you could do that with each of your posts in order to have them in order. Then use your blog for something short.

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                • J T Weaver says:

                  Yes, that would work, except Pages don’t show up in the WP Reader. For example, my ‘about’ page that everyone is so fond of, is really only read by new followers. It has never shown up in the reader. In honor of Father’s Day, I copied it and made it a post so it would, for the first time, show up in the Reader. Which is where I wanted it all along. Eventually I’ll take it down from the postings because that’s not really where it belongs, but it irks me that it was necessary in the first place.

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                  • tchistorygal says:

                    Once you get into the article and press like, then you can go backwards or forward, and you have your placed the way you like except for the last few. Lots of work. They might have some better suggestions. When you upgrade, you get chat support. I’ve used it a couple of time, and they’ve been very helpful. 🙂

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                    • J T Weaver says:

                      You know that was very kind of you to mention me in front of 10.5 million followers on the DaddyBlogger Roundup page. I suddenly noticed a huge increase in readers, the flags went up, the alarms went off, something had just happened!!! 🙂 🙂 You are too kind. Thank you so much.

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                    • tchistorygal says:

                      You are welcome!

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  3. reocochran says:

    I liked this post very much. I have been reading your posts a few times, not sure how, we must have a connection in our followers. Anyway, I do want to suggest to young parents that there are excellent books out there, I am not a bookseller nor did I write a book. I liked my daughter’s book recommended to her by her OB/GYN titled, “What to Expect While Expecting” and then there are a series of books that follow. They have a lot of pictures and really good index when you have questions. I grew up on Dr. Spock and my kids did, too. But a lot of how you raise your kids either comes from following your parents’ footsteps or going the opposite direction!

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    • J T Weaver says:

      Oh I agree. In our case it was a little of both. Karen loved her childhood and how she was raised, but I had to pick and choose and try to sift the good. I probably wasn’t always successful and I made plenty of mistakes, but generally our kids would say they had a good childhood. That’s all we can expect I think.
      We bought “Raising Your Spirited Child” and found some good tips in it but generally fell back on our own instincts.
      Thank you for reading. I really appreciate it. I’m glad you liked this one.

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  4. Jennie Saia says:

    My father was 38 when I was born and, while we don’t even attempt to talk politics together anymore, our age gap never had any impact on the things that matter. It helps that his inner child is about 12!

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    • J T Weaver says:

      🙂 I don’t think my Dad had an inner child, even when he was 12! The Great Depression did that to you I think. But in my case it was 30’s vs 60s. If you move that up a decade, 40s vs 70s, the whole dynamic changes. Go to 50s vs 80s and again it’s totally different. With my kids, my generation 60s was wilder than their generation 90s, so I found them to be relatively tame by comparison. Funny how things work out.

      Thanks for reading today. I’m glad you liked the story. The rest of these stories speak to what it was like to grow up then. Enjoy.

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  5. Cindy Wayland says:

    I like what you said about parenting: we draw on what we know of how our parents raised us, we do what we believe is best and we improvise as we go along… So true! And yes, based on what I know of your offspring, you and Karen did and continue to do a wonderful job parenting them!

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