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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

A Johnny-Come-Lately Mother

mother's day clip art 2013The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “Johnny-come-lately” as a late arrival or participant “circa 1839 and derives from the phrase ‘Johnny Newcome’ used by British officers during the Napoleonic War to describe new recruits”.  When my kids started coming home from Russia to join our family, I was a first-time mother over 40, already married over two decades, and with no real life experience in the area of parenting.

I was a Johnny-come-lately mother.

Nobody wanted to hear me sing lullabies, though I prepped myself in several languages (just in case).  There were a couple of ouchies to soothe or assuage with a bandaid.  No happy-mothers-day_t1diapers to change, but lots of personal hygiene lessons to give… that most of them resisted.

It was a strange dance from the beginning, full of commands and instructions, simply to preserve life and limb.  (Do NOT open that car door while we’re driving on the highway!  Do NOT stick your face in front of the dog’s face in a threatening way–he doesn’t know that you’re playing.  Do NOT “borrow” things from other people without asking.  Look both ways Tag11before you cross the street.  Do NOT swim out into the deep water!)

These were older kids, preteens at the time, ones that you would imagine would know or understand all sorts of things which they did not.  So I compensated and did what I could to exemplify a caring mother, while keeping them safe.  I focused a bunch on the more utilitarian aspects of motherhood, something they had never experienced, the steady presence of one who cared.

I sewed hems, I sewed buttons, I took in waistbands of those who arrived gaunt and malnourished.  I cooked breakfast, imageslunch, and dinner, so they needn’t be concerned that meals would be irregular (very big issue in the beginning–is there going to be lunch?  dinner?  when will we eat again?).  I decorated their rooms, making them cute and bright, but hopefully not over-the-top as in too much sensory stimulation.  I bought them toys that would encourage interaction and warmth, rather than electronics to help them stay aloof and separate.  I spent time with them, discussing and rehashing their concerns, questions, and fears.  I baked them homemade birthday cakes, and made them graphics-mothers-day-428400special treats of the sugary variety.  I spoke highly of their father, maybe too highly, when they started to like him more than me!

That’s what it looks like to be a Johnny-come-lately mother.

Today, I spend my spare hours researching colleges and cutting-edge, in-demand careers that might not require an extreme fluency in English, math, history, social studies, or science.  I teach my boys to treat girls with respect, and my girls to find a life outside of any over-dependence on a guy.  I want them to cherish family life and be good citizens, friends, mothers-day-canadaand mates.

I show them that their whole life is before them.  No matter what time they “lost”, now we’re making up for it.  They have every reason to be optimistic, to reach for the stars, or simply to settle in and be their best.

I aim to be their cheerleader, prayer warrior, and confidante.  I hope to emanate love and kindness, while holding them accountable, and letting them know the buck stops here.  I pray that in ways small or large, I am a good example for them.

I am their Johnny-come-lately mother, and if they’re making up for lost time, so am I.

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!


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2 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Sybil says:

    A bit late but it is still Mother’s Day here. Happy Mother’s Day to you Mrs. Johnny-come-lately. I truly hope your children realize what you did for them when they look back and evaluate who they are and why. I hope your day was delightful.

    • avatar admin says:

      Thanks Sybil, I think they do realize, it’s just so much old baggage that seems to get in their way. They each drew a beautiful picture for me for Mother’s Day. DH scanned and emailed them to me so they were the first thing I saw on Mother’s Day morning.

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