Jenna von Oy Blogs: A Walk on the ‘Child’ Side

Celebrity blogger Jenna von Oy is a new mama!

Best known for her roles as Six on Blossom and Stevie on The Parkers, von Oy is also a musician who has released two albums and is set to publish a book, The Betweeners.

von Oy, 35, wed Brad Bratcher on Oct. 10, 2010, and resides in Nashville with her husband and five dogs.

They welcomed their first child, daughter Gray Audrey, on May 21. She is now 4 months old.

In her latest blog, von Oy gets her own mom talking about her best memories raising four kids.

You can find her on Facebook and Twitter @JennavonOy, as well as posting on her new blog, The Cradle Chronicles.

My mom recently came to see my husband and me for two weeks in Nashville. Actually, let’s go ahead and be realistic here … she came to see our daughter, Gray. And aside from bearing gifts for her beloved grandchild, as grandmothers are prone and entitled to do, she also had goodies (of sorts) for me.

I suspect she’s been investing some serious time in cleaning out her attic, because she volunteered various keepsakes she has been “saving” for me for the last several decades. It was a scary little blast from the past that made me question just how much of a packrat my mother really is. Not that I’m claiming to be much better, mind you! The thing is, I’m the oldest of four kids, and I imagine she’s storing an equal amount of my siblings’ souvenirs alongside mine. I envision her attic as a shrine to report cards, tap shoes, Tonka trucks and notes to the Easter Bunny. Photos and papers and junk, oh my!

Day one of her visit, my mother opened her suitcase to reveal such childhood relics as my rock collection, doll collection, coin collection, and … wait for it … eraser collection. Ah yes, because I’ve surely been leading a dysfunctional existence without all of those. She even threatened to tote my button collection along on her next trip down, as in: the ones that adorned my “fly” jean jacket in the 80′s. God help me! In all seriousness, and my intention certainly isn’t to poke fun here, I fear I may have been a young hoarder in the making.

Anyway, I’m unsure what my mother expects me to do with all of these artifacts that she has amassed over the years, but I suspect they are still attic-bound, despite their change in venue. They will probably serve as honorable companions to the mementos I begin to stockpile for my own daughter; an assortment of her eventual handiwork and objets d’art, such as picture frames made out of macaroni noodles and clay mugs that say “#1 Mom.” It’s tough to get rid of objects that hold so many memories. They become a sentimental part of the long goodbye to our youth.

Gray is only 4 months old, and I confess to feeling a nudge of anxiety about her growing up. I’m trying not to get ahead of myself, but part of me is already dreading the day that finds me “putting away her childish things.” It’s no secret that life won’t slow down to wait while we mourn the loss of days gone by, so each passing phase of my daughter’s young life is a bittersweet adventure.

On the one hand, I’m thrilled to see her achieve the next great milestone such as smiling, waving and blowing kisses. On the other hand, I’m devastated to leave another stage of her infancy behind. She has already graduated out of her newborn clothes and diapers, and moved beyond the teeny tiny baby stage, which renders me a bit weepy. (For the record, we are now in the weeble wobble, wiggle worm, spitting up incessantly, stick your hand in your mouth so you can drool everywhere phase.)

But the scariest chapters in her childhood are closer on the horizon than I’d like to admit. You know, those that give way to baby-proofing the house — a.k.a. crawling and walking. I tremble just thinking about the first time she’ll bump her head on our dining room table, or take her first tumble on the hardwood floor. The concept of my daughter becoming mobile is incredibly nerve-racking. But alas, it is a rite of passage for both of us.

Apprehensions aside, I cannot wait to witness the pure joy on her face as she chases our dogs through the yard (though I may be slightly more excited about this prospect than they are). I look forward to seeing her discover the world around her, as she grows into the woman she will become. Like I said, it’s a bittersweet journey.

This brings me back to my mom’s visit. One rainy afternoon, we sat down to enjoy coffee and discuss my jitters over the thought of Gray’s impending first steps. I realize these are a few months down the road, at least I hope this is the case, but I’m a first-time mom… Worrying is my new part-time job! Our conversation gave way to a fun exchange of anecdotes from my own childhood, and Mom launched into some fantastic — albeit embarrassing — stories about my mischievous ways. “Do you have any memorable sagas about my crawling, walking or running?” I inquired of her. And, in case you are wondering, this is the part of the blog where I repeatedly throw myself under the bus.

The biggest scare you ever gave me was when you were barely 1 year old. Your dad and I were renting a small apartment over our landlord’s house. Dad was at work all the time, and I stayed home with you. One day, as you were wandering around, I went to make lunch in the kitchen. I wasn’t worried about letting you run through the halls on your own, as everything was completely childproofed. We’d taken all of the precautions that had been suggested to us; there were latches on every cabinet and locks on every drawer. There was only one door in the house, and you weren’t even able to reach the knob on it — you were such a tiny little thing. I mean, you were so petite that you didn’t even register on the height charts!

Anyway, after a little while, I realized I didn’t hear you anymore and I started calling for you. You didn’t answer, which was highly unusual. I scoured every room in that apartment (there weren’t many) and I called your name over and over again. You still weren’t answering. I checked under each bed and looked in every closet. Now I was frantic with worry. I started crying, and I telephoned your dad at work. He asked if I’d checked outside.

The thought that you might have found some way to get out there scared me to death, especially since we were two floors up. However, I just couldn’t imagine how you would have done it. The doors were still locked, but I went outside anyhow and scanned the yard. I didn’t see you. Racing back into the house, I went through every room again. I was moments from calling the police, when I heard a tiny little noise coming from the garbage can in the corner of our bedroom. You’d pushed the empty bin over and crawled into it. What a handful you were!

Houdini would have been proud. My mother finishes her story and breaks into a sly grin. In fact, she is downright beaming. I can spot the glimmer of hope accompanying that smile; the silent prayer that I’ll end up with a daughter who bestows the same wicked woes upon me. There’s just no mistaking the portent of karma! And she is enjoying it far too much to stop there …

You were equally impish before you learned to walk. For instance, there was the time I was babysitting my friend’s son, and lost sight of you for a moment. I heard you laughing, and I couldn’t figure out where you’d gone. Talk about heart failure. Come to find out, you’d managed to crawl up a flight of steps.

I was flabbergasted — I didn’t know you could do that! And there you were, sitting on the landing and laughing incessantly. You were so proud of yourself. There was also the time you found a way to climb up on top of our television set. You laughed at me then too. I still can’t figure out how you got up there!

As I listen to my mother relay tales of my naïve infant insubordination, I make the conscious decision to drag my siblings under the bus along with me. Sorry, guys. Next up? My sister, Alyssa …

She was difficult, because she was active so early. She was only 8 months old when she started walking! But one good thing is that she fell asleep everywhere. Your dad and I used to find her curled up in the broom closet. Once, I even found her passed out in a planter. She would be running around, and suddenly she would just stop, drop and sleep.

Brings new meaning to the old emergency safety slogan, doesn’t it? Note to self: narcolepsy may run in the family. Also — and I’m sure my sister will just love this idea — I’m considering recounting some of these stories during my matron-of-honor speech at her wedding in October. I figure that should provide ample entertainment for her new in-laws (insert diabolical smile here). Not to worry, Alyssa, you aren’t the only one I’m carrying with me into this slaughter … Pete isn’t leaving unscathed either.

Peter was our local bull in the china shop. When he was walking, he was also breaking things. We must have gone through four or five tops for our coffee table before we finally gave up and got rid of it. Each time he’d break it, we’d get thicker glass. Then he’d pull himself up, smash a toy car down on it, and it would break all over again.

In retrospect, this amazes me. My brother is one of the most docile humans I’ve ever known. Seriously. He’s introspective, old-fashioned in his ways, and a gallant man. As my husband puts it, he has a sort of quiet nobility. So, needless to say, memories of a time when he was the resident rascal are music to my big sister ears. And, in case my littlest (but really NOT so little at all) brother, Tyler, thinks he’s out of the woods … Laugh all you like, baby brother, but no such luck. I’m an equal opportunist.

Tyler was a flirt, which made his learning to walk all the more embarrassing. You were on Blossom at the time, and if you recall, your dressing room was at the end of a long hallway. Casts of other shows had dressing rooms down there too, and I used to find Tyler visiting all the ladies.

He wasn’t entirely discriminatory — every now and then I’d catch him playing video games with one of the guys like Hank Azaria, but mostly he knocked on the women’s doors. One time, I found him in Keri Russell‘s room. He’d convinced her to sit and play games with him. By the time he was 3 years old, he’d proposed to several women. No joke. He sure got away with a lot!

HA! You see? I wasn’t so bad, after all. Okay, so I crawled into a wastebasket and climbed on top of a television set. At least I wasn’t the 2-year-old equivalent of Casanova, right? There’s nothing like hollow reassurance, because that’s when my mom decides to bring up the mother (pun definitely intended) of all anecdotes. All’s well, that ends well … or at least that ends with the joke being on me.

I think this should be allowed to fall into the “running” category. When you were about 3, you decided to run away from home. You packed your little suitcase, and got all the way to the backyard- about 50 feet from the house. It was hysterical, because of course, you told us you were running away before you actually did it. You got to the edge of the woods and stood there looking back at us as if to say, “Well? Aren’t you going to come after me?”

Dad and I just looked out the window and tried not to laugh. You were such a little drama queen! We mulled over how long to wait before coming out to retrieve you. After a few minutes of your pouting, I ran out and hugged you, saying, “Oh honey, we missed you SO much!” You were happy with that and came back inside.

So the secret is out… I was mildly melodramatic. Then again, isn’t that what you would expect from a kid who decided she wanted to become an actress at the ripe old age of 3? I’m grateful for parents who didn’t stifle my need to express myself, even if it was with a little more flare than necessary from time to time.

Suffice it to say, I am looking toward similar, wonderfully terrifying experiences with Gray. I know they will be fodder for our own caffeine-induced, spirited dish session about 35 years from now … Talk about the portent of karma!

Until next time,

– Jenna von Oy

P.S. As always, please feel free to leave me comments here, and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter! Please also visit my own blog, The Cradle Chronicles, where I dispense more of my weekly motherhood anecdotes!

P.P.S. For the record, Mom, I’ve concluded that you were a saint.

More from Jenna’s blog series:

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Jenna von Oy Blogs: A Walk on the ‘Child’ Side