Week 8 Task in The Artist's Way
New Childhood: What might you have been if you’d had perfect nurturing? Write a page of this fantasy childhood. What were you given? Can you reparent yourself in that direction now?
I suppose that I did not have perfect nurturing, but I think that it was as close as one can get to ideal, being human. My mother was told that she could never carry a child to full term. Luckily, she defied the odds with a will which fought for her deep desire to bear children. She often told me that she’d ordered a short girl and a tall boy. She got both, me at 5'1 and my brother at 6'! Thanks to genetics, I’d venture. My mom and dad were the same height, 5’7”. That height was considered tall for females in the time my mom was born-1917; Dad, born in 1911, seemed short in comparison to his younger brother, and certainly compared to my mom’s brothers, all at least 6'. Of Dad’s siblings, only the youngest was tall; in addition, Dad’s oldest brother and younger sister were both short. Dad and both his brothers were alcoholics, but I remember his elder and younger brothers just deciding and then stopping cold turkey. However, my dad spent time in a rehab unit at Richmond State Hospital after Mom died in 1973. I remember that time as being the best time ever with Dad in my adult life.
My mom lost her dad at an early age. I think my mom's youngest sibling was still a baby. Mom had six brothers; she was the only daughter. Their life wasn’t easy, as many families experienced living during the Great Depression. Mom quit school after 10th grade to contribute to the welfare of the family. I suspect that the older brothers did likewise. My mom and Grandma were insatiable readers, in spite of my grandmother’s not even finishing elementary school. I have pictures etched in my memory of Grandma's working at crossword puzzles, seated in the kitchen. Both crossword puzzles and books are tops at the list of my favorite things to do.
My grandma married a second time to my favorite grandfather. They had two daughters and one son. The oldest is still living; another daughter was next in age (my best friend forever) and lastly their son. They were too close to my age to think of them as aunts and uncle. I remember my grandmother having several different jobs through the years. Both she and Grandpa were hard working people. My grandpa worked at King’s Mines in southern Indiana. Whenever I was there, we kids would listen to the radio to see if Grandpa would be going to work that day.
This short history of my grandparents points toward the development of my mother, and later me .
My mother was an intelligent, loving, compassionate, strong and non-judgmental woman. I remember my mom telling me that she wanted Dad and her to start their own business of laying linoleum. Dad didn’t want to; I suspect that’s whence comes my fear of risk taking. I’m still not a master of taking risks, but I have made progresses at it, judging from my being able to post my photographs on-line.
I didn’t have an ideal childhood, but as I look back in retrospect, it was the perfect one to shape the me that I am today. And I’m satisfied with this work in progress named Norma Ruth Ruttan.
I might be faulted for not really imagining a new fantasy childhood. I think that the underlying reason for that is I can’t throw stones at my mom and dad for their child-rearing of my brother and me. One Christmas, when I asked my brother to spend private, alone time with me, we discovered that our mom had spoken the same encouraging and empowering words to each of us, “You can accomplish anything you set your mind on and become anything you want.” I don’t feel the need to imagine better parenting than this because both my younger brother lived, and I am still living, with those words etched in our minds and hearts.