As much as I dislike participating in the aforementioned Ladies’ Lunches, one highlight is getting to hear my Aunt Betty tell stories. Betty was married to my grandmother’s brother and together they had 13 children. Yes. 13.
And I imagine Betty was already somewhat laid back before she entered into her period of EXTREME BREEDING. But after so many kids and countless grandchildren, Aunt Betty kind of…just doesn’t give a fuck. I mean, she can’t, right? There’s no way you can dispense the neuroses of a mom with one or two children over 13 children. There just aren’t enough hours in the day. Instead, Aunt Betty just did what she could, kept the kids alive and functional, and hoped for the best.
So it’s always entertaining for me, while I agonize over every single parenting decision, determined to make the baby the most awesome individual ever, lest my uterus get a reputation as a bad neighborhood, to listen to Betty’s perspectives on parenting on the whole other side of the spectrum.
And on Sunday, Betty told us a tale about when she only had 5 or 6 kids. Two of the girls were playing and Betty had left the newest baby in their care for a few minutes. When she returned, the baby was nowhere to be found. Nonchalantly, Betty asked, “Where’s the baby?” The girls tried to think what they had done with their sibling, when Betty heard a soft choking sound coming from underneath the bed. As Betty recalls, “So, you know, I look under the bed and they had shoved the baby under there to keep her out of the way and they had stuffed bobby pins in her mouth to keep her quiet.”
And Betty told this tale in a total deadpan and I could picture her, forty some years ago, sighing and casually plucking the bobby pins out of her baby’s mouth, telling her daughters not to do that again, and then going about her business.
If I were to retell the tale, I can assure you that there would be much caps lock involved and possibly some smelling salts.