Desperate as I may have been at times (read: that one year after I turned twelve when I was still sorting out what I wanted out of this life) to believe in the “can’t eat, can't sleep, reach for the stars, over the fence world series kind of love,” (It Takes Two) growing up in front of a television made me a bit too jaded to rely on actually finding it. After all, the sarcastic, slightly frumpy brunette best friend character never ends up getting the guy. So instead, I very quickly turned my attention toward love of a different kind: maternal. It sounds anti-feminist now, but for every time as I was told I was “so ambitious and driven” as a child, I could count three more when I thought to myself that all I wanted to do in my life was be a stay-at-home mom.
I played house as a kid—mostly in my Fisher Price kitchen set—but standing at the short counter with the flimsy plastic plates and fake cupcakes, I often felt more like a waitress or even a line cook than a mother. In truth, just like how Michelle on Full House once wanted to be Uncle Joey while playing house with her own BFF because she didn’t have a mommy (hers died when she was just an infant, and so the concept of three men and three little ladies—one of which was still a baby—was born), my own mother was absent so much I might have forgotten what she looked like—if I didn’t already have her nose!
My mother awoke every morning at four a.m. in order to get to work before the sun did, and when she arrived back at our apartment around dinnertime, it was mostly to ask if I had any tests for which I should be studying. I have been told that in the early years, I would wait in the living room for the sound of the key in the front door and then crawl—and later, teeter unsteadily upright on two chubby little toddler legs—toward the sound so that she could scoop me up in a hug when she came home. I don’t remember this, and there is no photographic evidence to prove truth. However, years later our family Golden Retriever used to bound over to the door the second she heard the key turning in the lock, and chances are she had to learn that somewhere…
As an only child, I was left on my own to play single mother, with my children a hodgepodge collection of stuffed dogs, bears, and American Girl dolls. I relished the idea of having a diverse family, but my imagination must not have been as vast as I always assumed it to be because I quickly found I preferred instead to find some real life characters and incorporate them into my fantasy world. My children of choice, therefore, were those two adorable little tow-headed girls behind Michelle that I found on my favorite TGIF program.
Though in actuality Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen were only two years younger than me, watching their toothless precociousness play out in witty one-liners or simple eye-rolls on screen made me feel a sense of pride. I didn’t want to be in their shoes, experiencing all of the cool things and people (hel-lo, Uncle Jesse!), but I certainly wanted to be a part of that world. No, I didn’t want to be them; I wanted to be better than them—hell, I even wanted to be responsible for them.
I created a character for myself to be then—based on the twins’ own mother who I knew little about. Since I spent almost eight hours a day in school, the classroom was something I felt I knew pretty well, so it only seemed natural for me to expand the character into not just a mother but also a teacher, which, when you really think about it, is synonymous anyway. I didn’t so much play house as I did school, and that was only because it was my only real reference of authority.
I've been thinking about all of this lately because after watching the Hope for Haiti telethon and subsequent news stories on Americans who have been arrested trying to "rescue" children from that devastated country, I have decided that I would like nothing more than to adopt a little Haitian baby. Undoubtedly there are countless children who have lost everything-- including their whole families and anyone capable of taking care of them-- in that terrible earthquake of last month.
Since playing make-believe with my dolls, I have been a baby-sitter, a camp counselor, and a mother to a very independent little dog. I have had experience outside of just my imagination in caring for those who can't quite care for themselves.
Anyone who knows me in my "real" life, knows that I have adoption paperwork filled out and ready to be filed as soon as I feel the agency will consider me a viable candidate. There are so many (more) kids today that need a good, loving home, clothes on their backs, and food in their bellies. However, my age coupled with my single status and the fact that I "freelance" and do not even own my own home...well, let's just say I think it's still going to be awhile before anyone hands over any child to me.
But in the meantime, the Full House house has been put up for sale in its Alamo Square, San Francisco neighborhood for the modest asking price of $4.1 million. So maybe I should start working on being able to afford that so that when my application is submitted, I will at least have a famed home to which to bring those kids back!