On Being a Mother
It is an understatement to say that one of the most complex human relationships is that between a mother and child. Of course, the child is utterly dependent at birth and for many years thereafter. But almost immediately after entering this world, the infant will soon figure out that emotions - both his or her own, and of its caregivers - will complicate things to a great degree. Add in other potential factors such as adoptive parents, step parents, and re-marriages along the way, and what do you have with respect to a mother-child relationship?
We have all experienced what it is to have a mother (to some degree) because we were born. Maybe we grew up without such a parent at all. Perhaps we were raised by surrogates, such as aunts, grandmothers, sisters, or friends. Maybe we had a rougher time, going through the foster care system. Certainly, we all harbor some emotions toward the woman that carried us in her womb for 8 or 9 months, though. For it was that person that played a part in giving us life. Without her, we would not be here.
Once you become a mother, that role never ends. It doesn't stop when your child reaches age 18, or graduates college. No - its a life-long position. In fact, even if you don't chose to have children of your own, many women still care for and nuture their own mothers, or their siblings' children. Its human nature!
Loving Your Mother
Moms work very hard at raising their children. And, while they know in their hearts how much they love their kids, sometimes they aren't programmed to naturally give lots of hugs and kisses. These mothers still desperately love their girls and boys. They show it by volunteering, and carpooling and sewing Halloween costumes instead. Dads, grandmas and grandpas may step in to shower affection in some cases.
Yet these moms don't lock away their emotions for good. They can show their soft side when you're not looking... when you're growing up, on graduation day, when you get engaged, and especially when you tell them they're going to be a grandma for the first time.
Other moms are the so-called "perfect" mothers. They walk their children to school every day, hug and kiss them good night, and never seem to ever raise their voice. All looks great on the surface, but maybe a deeper emotional connection could be forged.
Perhaps your mother is the overbearing type, never leaving you a minute to breathe, or act on your own. Does she not trust you at all? Yes, she does. Why does she have to be so critical? She just loves you so much, it breaks her heart. She wants to let go, yet cannot.
Fast forward 20 or 30 years yourself and try to think of where you would be with respect to your own children. Maybe its too much of a leap at this point. But after so much time and investment, it really can be hard to truly let go.
Do you love your mother? She loves you. If you have a peaceful relationship, that should be obvious. But even if yours has had its ups and downs, at the base of it, your mom does love you. If you are ready to sit down, or write her a letter, do so. You may just be able to change the course of your relationship for the better. If nothing else, a card to simply say, "I love you" will brighten her day and let her know that she is appreciated for all that she has done.
Considering Yourself or Your Spouse as a Mother
If you are pregnant, or if you have young children, raise your hand if you have a list of things in your mind (or maybe even a physical list) that your parents did that you will NEVER do with your own kids. OK, you can probably take at least half of that list and discard it right now. Abusive issues aside, a lot of what we experienced as children, we will likely pass on to our children. This includes mealtime routines, chores, general household expectations, etc. However, if your own mother gave too many kisses and made you uncomfortable, you can blaze a new trail. On the other hand, if you felt unloved, you can make sure that you tell your kids as often as possible that you love them. In short - start something new!
Each new month and year brings new challenges. Whether you are a mom of one, or many! Some will swear that parenting a singleton is difficult because he or she has no built-in playmates. On the other hand, sibling rivalry comes into play with multiple children. Add in the layers of step-children, adoptive children, and that woman really has her hands full! Best laid plans may go out the window, when you find yourself bribing whiny kids with candy just to get through the grocery store check-out line!
Among the many things that you will have to manage include: doctors appointments, keeping your kids in clothes and shoes (they outgrow them fast!), school/instruction, socialization, religious instruction (if you desire), extra-curricular activities (if you desire), and grocery shopping. These are primarily physical needs. Your children will need plenty of time to sit with you, talk to you, explain their drawings to you, imagine their futures with you, talk about stars with you, and cry about hurt feelings with you. Sometimes it is convenient to stop what you are doing and have a conversation with your child; other times, you will have to take it upon yourself to notice that your child needs your attention and make time - whether you have it or not!
The experts all say it - the years pass by in a flash. Before you know it, your children are grown and off to college, or living on their own. Then you have a new set of worries. A decade or so later, grandchildren. Whew. Did you know that was going to happen so quickly?
Books to Share
- 82.5 million women in the United States are mothers (U.S. Census figures)
- August is the most popular month for having babies in America, and Tuesday is the most popular day of the week (U.S. Census figures)
- The average number of children that American women will have is about 2 in most states, except Alaska and Utah, where the average is 3 (U.S. Census figures)
- The average age of women in the United States when they have their first child is 25.1 years old (U.S. Census figures)
- 4 million new moms each year in the States! (U.S. Census figures)
- Want twins? Odds are 1-32. Triplets? Odds increase to 1-542!
- In 2002, 55% of women with infant children worked outside of the home, a reduction from 59% in 1998 (U.S. Census figures)
- The first observance of Mother's Day was in 1908 at a church service, to honor the deceased mother of Anna Jarvis; in 1914, Congress passed legislation establishing the second Sunday of May as Mother's Day
When you Have to Mother your Mom
In the circle of life, your parents age, and you may find yourself in the unenviable position of having to be their caregiver. Once, the person that fed and changed you, will now be in the same position of needing such care. It is heartbreaking to watch, particularly if your mom is aware of her declining capabilities.
Your proud mother may be reluctant to leave her home and move into an assisted living facility. Many elderly people see that as one step towards death. However, if they continue to stay in their homes, it is more of a danger to themselves! You may have to have long, patient discussions to explain the situation and how you care for her - as difficult as it will be to have to move her out. If your mother is widowed, that will also be difficult because you may have to help her manage funds, pay bills, etc. She could need assistance getting to doctor's appointments and running other errands.
Most importantly, your mom will need your emotional support during her last years. Spending time with you is likely the most important thing to her at this point. Bring the grandchildren and great-grandkids around. Call her often. Tell her you love her. After all, you now know what it is to be a true mother.
To all the mothers in my life - I love you!
A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie. ~Tenneva Jordan
A Freudian slip is when you say one thing but mean your mother. ~Author Unknown
The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness. ~Honoré de Balzac
All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his. ~Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, 1895
When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child. ~Sophia Loren, Women and Beauty
My mom is a neverending song in my heart of comfort, happiness, and being. I may sometimes forget the words but I always remember the tune. ~Graycie Harmon
Mother love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible. ~Marion C. Garretty, quoted in A Little Spoonful of Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul
Grown don't mean nothing to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown? What's that suppose to mean? In my heart it don't mean a thing. ~Toni Morrison, Beloved, 1987
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