Reflections from a Motherless Child
From the beginning – I was weird
Far too many times during the course of my early parenting I have heard women say “Stop telling me how to raise my kids!” or “I don’t appreciate you talking to my child that way”.
In all fairness, I may have at times felt the same thing – but never did I have the arrogance to speak these words out loud. Why do I see this as arrogant? Because who the heck are these women who don’t want or need to be told how to raise their kids? Mothering experts?
Please for the LOVE OF GOD – will someone, ANYONE, PLEASE tell me HOW to raise my kids!
What honest mother worth a plug nickel hasn’t said to herself at least once a day, “I don’t have any idea what I am doing!” or “my kids really going to need therapy later”. I don’t care how many magazine articles or books you read and maybe you even have a degree in child psychology, but when it comes to the ACTUAL task of parenting we all come up short. Having good advice or another mom when you don’t have a clue – or even just to stop your kid from running into the road when you happened to not be looking is a GIFT! A gift that I was always grateful to receive.
Perhaps it is the fact that I am a motherless child. I know more than most people do the value of a mother’s wisdom precisely because it was always lacking in my life. I must have at some point made a decision that every mom I knew would go under my subconscious observational microscope and would later be used to either set a good example for my own future experience as a mom or serve as a horrible warning of what I would never do. I am sorry Oprah, and Doctor Phil and Kenneth Leeman – your advice simply cannot compare to witnessing the human mother and her young in their native habitat.
I always wanted to be a “Good Mother”
Way back when I was just a kid – long before I was ever a mom, I was pretty sure that even though I didn’t have a mother myself – I was pretty certain that I would have kids and that I would be a good mom. Call me arrogant if you want – but being a good mom (for me) was an important goal – and I considered every day training for my future. I watched the Brady Bunch faithfully, along with Please don’t eat the Daisies and I was pretty sure these television personas were not real, but they did offer some real doses of wisdom once in awhile.
I also watched my brothers wives and saw their mistakes and good decisions in stark contrast to each another. I learned very early on that being a good mom is much more about the heart than logic. Some of the smartest women I know are terrible mothers. And some of the dumbest (albeit sweetest) moms I know are really excellent mothers.
We didn’t have a large family and the few siblings my parents had were not the kind of parents I would have wanted to imitate. But I did have a lot of friends parents to observe – and because they existed in an entirely different family environment than I did, I really enjoyed observing the contrasts to my own non-family.
For example, I really hated seeing my teenage friends be rude to their mom. It disturbed me in a way that I was unable to express at a young age. I had a real longing in my life for an older female who sincerely gave a crap about me. I recently turned fifty and I am still lacking in this – and still searching. And perhaps I am not alone.
I always tried to encourage my friends to slow down and listen – but because I didn’t have a mom they assumed I just didn’t “get it” – and by that I mean I didn’t get how annoying a mom was because I didn’t have one. But it is true that you do not usually appreciate what you have unless you lose it. I am not talking about that crazy mom who shattered my brothers J.Geils album for inappropriate lyrics simply because I made the mistake of letting her daughter take it home. And I also don’t have much sympathy for the divorced mom who got the boob job and the proceeded to flirt with all the married men in the neighborhood. Nope you can keep those moms – back in the day I probably felt those b*tches got what they deserved.
I am talking about the mom(s) who just wanted her kid(s) to slow down for a minute and listen to some sound advice before the reckless child rocketed out of her front door to fulfill her teenage destiny of wrecking her reputation and tossing her virginity to the first sorry kid who desired it. Actually, looking back, even in the days of Leave it to Beaver, these kinds of moms were rare. And they still are. So that is why I wanted to be one, and this goal has consumed a really huge part of my thoughts and actions for the past twenty years.
I’ve seen the world from both sides now…
I have been a stay home mom, a “working from home” mom, a part time employed mom and a full time 40+ hours a week working outside the home mom. I have seen it from every possible perspective – so I’m certainly am in a position to understand the many situations that moms find themselves in today. But no matter what the situation – being a good mom always mattered to me.
I recall saying to a friend that I really didn’t care if I was a good bookkeeper, a good student, or a good housewife, but being a mom – that was really important and that was one thing I didn’t want to f++k up. Yeah – that is pretty much how I said it.
We are Building Cathedrals
Since I have had a couple of decades of the parenting thing – my observations of my friends parenting styles run the gamut from the neurotic hoarder overprotective mother to the athletic time nazi clean freak mother and everything in between. The one thing that pervades every mothering experience – the kids always think you’re crazy and don’t listen to you or appreciate you – until you are gone. Gone can mean gone from my house because you or I have moved away from each other or gone can mean funeral. But, in either case, the seeds that a mother will sow do not usually bear fruit in the season that she is still on the job. It is an unfortunate reality of motherhood that the harvest a mother wants so desperately to bring in while in her youth- is often one that they will never see brought in. It often will bear fruit when she is not in her child’s life anymore – at least not in an active sense.
I was once given the book “The Invisible Woman” by Nichole Johnson The Invisible Woman – Amazon and while I read it – everything I had been doing as a mom just fell into place. I encourage anyone who is a mom (who doesn’t already think she knows everything) to read this book. It uses the European cathedral builders from the last five centuries as a metaphor of motherhood. Did you know that the architects who designed these massive structures would never live to see them built? Cathedrals often took in excess of 100 years to complete. Most if not all of the people who started their construction would never see them finished. And yet they built anyway. They didn’t just build – they dedicated all of their life’s work and creativity to what would amount to an act of faith. They did it with enthusiasm because they believed what they were doing was not only worthy of a lifetime of effort – but had a divine purpose that would influence future generations.
My Life’s Work
This site, as it takes on substance, will become a conglomeration of all of my greatest life’s work. I know it sounds serious – because it is. Although my life is rich in laughter and very short of seriousness – the one thing I do take seriously is the legacy I will leave to my daughters and future grandchildren once they no longer have me. The posts I add here – the advice, recipes, cleaning instructions, and other ramblings make up the crazy quilt of a relatively quiet but nonetheless fulfilling life.
It is true that I am not well traveled, well educated, or well bred. But I am well loved and I have loved well. And that is something worth remembering.