If you’re a regular reader of Once a Little Girl, you already know Rita and Marcia. Yes, Rita is Mom and Marcia, well, Marcia is my own “Special Christmas Gift.” Maria and Molly and Jana are special gifts, too. They are Marcia’s daughters.
Rita is a widow with nine great children. She lives alone, and she still drives. Rita is 84 years old, and what is called a “cradle Catholic.” That means she was a Catholic all her life and she’s passed her faith down to four generations so far.
Rita told me she never considered being afraid of raising girls. It’s a good thing, too, or she’d be scared witless: she has six daughters. Rita thinks girls are more open than boys, and definitely more attentive when they are grown. She also admits to sort of favoring her own sons, because they would someday be the breadwinners of the family. She thought it was more important that they got a good education. That said, all of Rita’s daughters have careers: nurses, scientists, physical therapists, accountants, and at least one writer.
Rita was a self-center, rebellious child sandwiched between two brothers. She hated school. Catholic school started teaching kids early and had no kindergarten, so Rita started first grade when she was only 4 years old. She never quite felt like she fit in with all the bigger, faster kids. Eventually, Rita had a sister, Annie, 14 years younger than her. Although they were less than close as children, sisterly love is apparent in their senior years.
Rita thinks mothers today should relax and enjoy motherhood. You can never live it again. Sure, you will make mistakes, just never let your kids see you flinch. They’re like little vultures, they’ll eat you alive if you let them see you waver. (I told Mom, I would re-word that part for her, but I like the way those sentences swirl around in my head contradictions, part soft and approachable, part tough as nails. Isn’t that the way we must mother? There is such wisdom swirling around in there.)
Here’s Rita with most of her offspring and some of theirs.
Maria is seven years old and just finishing the first grade. Se is the youngest in a family of four boys and three girls. She’s the only one who is not bossy. She loves Jesus. Maria’s favorite color is orange and her favorite number is seven because that’s her age. Maria loves science because there is so much to learn. She also loves swimming. Me, too, Maria, it’s so much fun splashing around, floating, and never getting sweaty.
Molly is eight years old and finishing the third grade. Her favorite color is blue and her favorite number is also her age. She is quite shy and likes doing chores. She’s a self-starter so she doesn’t really need a bossy big sister to crank her up. Molly likes to ride horse, just like her mom and she thinks math is fun. You go girl, so do I. Math is great fun.
to be a nun when she is grown. That’s the best way to listen to Jesus.
Jana is nineteen and just finished her freshman year at the Mott Community College, where she has a scholarship. She lives at home, which saves tons of money. Her favorite color is blue because that’s one the University of Michigan colors. She may go to U of M when she finishes at Mott. Her favorite number is 19, not because it’s her age. That was Steve Yzerman‘s number. He played for the Detroit Red Wings his entire career.
Jana only bosses her sisters around when they are bad, and only because that’s a big sister’s job. She loves sports: soccer, baseball, softball. She does some umping for kids’ leagues and is quite surprised at the vigor some of the parents sometimes display.
Jana is already a world traveler: she’s been to Rome twice, to Mexico, and to Canada. God is important in her life.
When Jana is grown she hopes to be 5’7″, be a physical therapist, have a family, raise some kids and have a good job. Her hubby will be zesty. Jana is yet to meet her zesty man.
Marcia is 49 years old. She lived all her life in the same small town. She’s been married for 27 years: she married her childhood sweetheart and together they are raising their children in the same farmhouse Marcia grew up in.
Marcia is quiet and reserved, but knows how to stand up for the important things in life: her Catholic faith and her family.
When Marcia was a little girl, the only thing she thought about was riding horses. Night and day, her horse was the only thing on her mind. The barn was only place she wanted to be.
Marcia worries about her daughters marrying the right person. She wants them to find someone who will love and cherish them for a lifetime. Now that she understands what marriage truly is, she sees the importance of these two attributes. And she understands how difficult it is to predict the future. Marcia will have no worries if Molly and Maria realize their goals and marry Jesus. I have a feeling Jana knows love and be loved. She just needs to find that zesty man. I’m pretty sure she can.