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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Valentine

Owning my oddness

Motherhood is more than bearing children, though it is certainly that. It is the essence of who we are as women. It defines our very identity, our divine stature and nature, and the unique traits our Father gave us. Sheri L. Dew

It didn’t occur to me that I am odd until I started seeing these same qualities manifesting in my adult children. Now there are plenty of things that I do that are just strange, but I believe they are a result of necessity. Being the child of parents who grew up in the Great Depression, we were raised to be frugal. The squeeze bottle condiments are always turned upside down in the refrigerator to get every last drop. I have always been careful about spending money.

My sons endured “mom haircuts” through middle school and in a pinch during high school. A pillow case served as the drape. While purchasing the clippers in the hair supply store, the attendant let me know that I would need clipper oil. She handed me the 2 ounce container which costs more than I was willing to pay. When I checked the ingredients and found out it was just mineral oil, I went to my local grocery store and bought a whole bottle of store brand mineral oil. I paid the same for 16 ounces that it costs for 2 ounces of special clipper oil. That bottle lasted for years.

Looking back, some of this uniqueness may have put my children at a disadvantage. Most households have at least one person who drinks coffee. A cup or two may have been brewed in our home during a visit by a grandparent, but otherwise, no coffee (or Coca Cola as I have witnessed in the south) as a morning ritual. No relaxing glass of wine mostly due to my childhood experiences with my mom…and the fact that I don’t really enjoy the taste. We are careful to only buy things that we really need and I mean really need. Case in point, I still use the linen I received as wedding presents some 30 years ago. Ultra frugal…they cover the mattress and don’t have any tears or holes – what else do we need?

I don’t own shoes to match each outfit. A pair of basic black pumps is usually what I have on. You may see me wear the same pump in beige and blue. All three will go to the shoe repair place at least once before I just totally wear them out. This year I made a bold move (in my mind) to buy a pair of flat shoes and I keep telling myself that this will be the year that I buy a pair of boots. I bought a pair of ankle high boots when my oldest left for college, but otherwise, I haven’t owned a pair since I was carrying that same baby. Boots were on the list of luxuries, not necessities.

My babies were never taught to believe in Santa Claus. They only had one full time parent and I didn’t want to risk perpetuating a lie. My credibility and their trust were just too important to me. They did receive money for their teeth if they were put under their pillow, but we never attributed it to the Tooth Fairy. It just mysteriously appeared.

I always addressed them the way I wanted them to address me. There was no yeah or what responses, always yes or excuse me. We hope to take our first getaway this year. All four of us to somewhere that doesn’t involve sleeping on someone’s couch or rushing all over creation to see our family and kindred - a true family, relax-relate-release vacation. We went to Bermuda when my sister and brother-in-law lived there and that was wonderful because I got the opportunity to watch the sunset into the ocean with my guys. They were all under the age of 12 at that time. They have each been to Disneyland on school trips and once to Disneyworld together when their godparents held onto them while I was on a business trip.

One more odd thing about me, I hold on to memories – which is a nice way of saying that I have a few hoarding tendencies. I still have all of the wonderful lopsided pottery creations, Popsicle stick mini-crates, drawings, Christmas ornaments, creative jewelry and artwork. I also have quite a few of the dear thank you notes from the many teachers over the years.

It has taken me a long time to come to terms with my oddness. Going against the grain has worked for me and I see great value in being comfortable with who I am.

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