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Reflections On Being A Mother

Gerry and family C 1983“Once a mother always a mother”. We’ve all heard the expression and in many ways it is so true. There is something intrinsically nurturing about women. We’re the ones who rescue animals, take cookies to school, volunteer at the food centers, and organize events. We take on double the load when we work outside the home during those years when children are growing. I’ve watched my attorney daughter, married with two small boys work out a balance between career and family; figure out ways to give herself time and still be the consummate “mom”. Over the past fifteen years she has coached (sometimes not so subtly) her husband into a shared role in child rearing and household management and learned that she cannot and does not have to say yes to every demand placed upon her. I remember the same stage in my life and my seeming inability to refuse a request to take on yet one more volunteer activity on top of running a household and raising three kids, for most of that time as a single mom. I applaud the balance that my daughter has created in her life. My married son, a writer and illustrator has the luxury of working from a home studio and that means he has assumed the primary day care responsibility for his two children. I’m in awe of his tenderness and total devotion to them. His wife, a beautiful young woman, has not lost any “mothering” instinct by not being the primary caregiver. In fact I watch these two blossom as parents with an equal role and a balanced sharing of responsibilities. So perhaps I taught both these offspring of mine well.

I remember reading somewhere that a noted child psychologist made the claim “if you have not taught your children your values by the time they reach 16, you might as well give up.” I’ve always been my own harshest critic but in this month when we reflect on sowing seeds and on Mothers Day, I’m patting myself on the back for a job well done raising my three offspring. They like each other and they like me. Together we have transitioned into an adult relationship and I have learned not to give the “in my day” we did it differently speech unless I’m specifically asked for advice. I’m surprised at how frequently that happens and it’s not the "you’re the mother give us the answers” type of question rather a respectful “you have more experience in this, what would you do…” I’m also continuously surprised at how much they are teaching me and how willing I am to learn from them.

I like to think that I have learned to segue from 'mothering' (see J’Fleur Lohman’s article) without losing my role as mother, something I treasure more than anything else in my life. And if in time I ease into becoming my own mother, as Sylvia Edwards writes about, then maybe it isn’t all that bad because I must have learned something from her in much the same way that my children learn and continue to learn from me. Even now I catch glimpses of my younger self in my children and when they roll their eyes at something I do or say I have a little inside smile and think "just you wait, you can't escape me, I sowed those seeds really deep and they are perennials!" And it's usually at that point that one of them pats me on the head and refers to me as "the little mother".

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