Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 17, 2007

Editors note: Gail Kimball sent this as a Mothers Day submission. We liked it and wanted to run it in its entirety but were constrained by space, so we decided to publish it in LifePlus just two days late.
Late, yes, but we think the sentiments are timeless.
By Gail Kimball
For The Salisbury Post
I wanted a baby of my own when I was 9 years old. I practiced continuously. An ordinary brick magically transformed into a cuddly, lovable, warm extension of my own body when wrapped in a scrap of old towel tucked just so. In late summer, I shopped for additions to my family in the cornfield. I would carefully choose an ear of corn with black silky tassels dropping down, just like my own hair. Lying in my arms wrapped like a papoose with the corn silk exposed, I could feel warmth and heartbeats, smell baby powder, and hear cooing. I was blessed.
My three daughters took so long in arriving that my yearning and need to touch, feel, smell, hold, caress, gaze, snuggle, kiss and nurture exploded anew with each birth.
As my babies grew, I had to revise my parenting plan frequently. The original plan came from my own mother, who was the smartest, most creative, dearest, fairest, wisest, and most exemplary role model a girl could have had. I was blessed.
I felt a strong need and responsibility for my girls to have rich, magical, enduring, childhood memories. I packed picnics that we shared while sitting on the curb, 20 feet in front of our home. The curb was just right for little bottoms while their feet rested on the firm surface. However, Im sure this memory-making event contributed to my arthritis.
We took walks to a grassy hillside near the old Rowan Memorial Hospital, where I demonstrated the art of lying down and rolling my full body down to the bottom. They squealed, laughed, clapped, danced and took turns rolling down over and over again. (Incidentally, I retired after my initial demonstrative roll and have been dizzy ever since!)
We fed the ducks at City Park once a week. I became petrified that one of my girls might fall in and drown. I was also terrified of water and had never learned to swim. So I took swimming lessons at McCanless Lake taught by Dr. Robert Spencer. It was difficult for me and Dr. Spencer because learning to swim did not lessen my fear of the water. That fall, the City Lake was drained for cleaning. I was stunned to see that the bottom looked to be no more than 3 feet deep. I could have waded across at any point!
We went hiking (walks) daily. Before starting out, I would announce that we would each look for a pretty flower, an interesting rock, a nice stick and a lucky penny. I stashed a few coins in my pocket and would unobtrusively toss one now and then ahead of us while they were distracted by bugs, worms, or butterflies. The excitement and joy abounded when one of them spied the shiny treasure. I confessed to the girls when the youngest was about 20 years old. She was devastated. Mama! I am not believing this!
As hard as I tried to create beautiful and lasting memories for them, it seems Im the one who is the keeper of these jewels. I am so blessed.
My children seem to have their own memories.
Cindi vividly recalls that I made her walk to Overton School in the rain. Well, I did but …
Karen cant shake the memory that while riding her bike down the driveway under the guide wires, a bird pooped (splat!) right on top of her 10-year-old head. She cried. She claims that I laughed. Well, I did but …
Deborah tells everyone, including Dr. Bailey, that I made her eat meatloaf, green beans, and rice for breakfast. Well, I did but … OK, she had refused to eat anything but potato chips for 10 days!
Children also speak words of wisdom:
Im not letting flies in the house (while holding the door open), Im letting flies out!I have a wunnerful idea. Lets dont make up these beds cause we just gonna get back in them tonight!
After seeing Dr. Hilda Bailey in a scrub suit at the local ER, my 4-year-old could hardly wait to shout her discovery to her 6-year-old sister, Cindi, Cindi, I bet you didnt know this … Dr. Bailey IS A GUL SCOUT!
My experience taught me to mother by these love guidelines:
n Say yes when possible. Say no when not possibleand stick to it.
n You have the rest of your life to remember how you handle any given situation. (I have worn this one out!)n When a child divides anything for sharing, let the receiver choose first.
n A child NEEDS age-appropriate chores to ingrain her place in the family. This fosters the NEED to be NEEDED. No payment due!
n When a child is old enough to sign her name, she will voluntarily sign-up on a posted chore list and then do it. This teaches responsibility and accountability.
n Each child should be assigned a personal space, such as a drawer. NEVER invade their privacy. They will respect yours.
n Pray daily. Occasionally, my prayer was, Lord, remind me of exactly why I wanted these children!
My three daughters are adults now loving, kind, smart, productive, creative, funny, wise, adventurous and mothers. They have given me six more babies to snuggle, love, hug, tote, spoil, nibble on, smell, kiss, caress, gaze at, feed, and I am so blessed!