It’s true, you got me, I didn’t make big plans for Mother’s Day with my mom, and this post about my mom is in part intended to make up for that. Consider it a public Mother’s Day card, with fewer cheesy rhymes.
That isn’t the only reason for this post, however. I also thought that it would be good to make some early clarifications regarding my mom and the mothering I have received, since I predict that future posts may occasionally reference angst regarding My Own Role As A Mother.
Most of that angst stems from my own Overly Analytical Over Thinking of Things (I call this life approach OAOTTS. Catchy, I know. ) and not from anything that my mom ever did. Let it be clear that my mother is a loving, great mom. In fact, what often saves me from leaping off the Cliff of Over Thinking Everything into the Abyss of Parenting Despair is my own mother’s calm voice in my head, telling me to get over myself and get on with it. If my mom ever had the angsty self-doubt about her mothering that I have, she never showed it.
That does bring us, however, to the parts which may be my mom’s fault.
For instance, I never questioned as a child whether I could choose to work and still be a loving, involved, effective mom, because my mom did it with such grace. She made it look easy.
I never questioned whether I would have a marriage in which both partners stayed together and invested in each other, in their kids, and in their faith, because my mom and dad just made that look like that was the way it was done.
I never questioned that I would have a career in which my skills and talents not only fulfilled me, but they also really mattered. I was raised in a community full of people who entrusted their first graders to my mom, and she in turn relished teaching them to read and add and subtract and sit in a circle and generally act like civilized little members of society. She made it seem obvious that I should expect to seek out a similarly rewarding career that also made the world a better place.
Making all of that look easy, that part is clearly her fault.
And there’s more. If you come to my house and my laundry is living in baskets in the hall and say, my baseboards are a wee bit, um, dusty, well, that’s her fault. Because she raised me to believe that as a mom I have permission for those things to come second to road trips or spontaneous family adventures. Or, quite frankly, to putting my feet up on occasion and reading a book with no socially redeeming value. If I’m reading that book while propping my feet on a pile of more books, that’s also her fault. If I am someday officially diagnosed with an addiction to magazines, that’s also completely her doing.
And if you come by my house and you catch me chasing my boys with ice cubes, popping them down their shirts despite uncontrollable giggling protests, well, that sort of mothering is absolutely her fault. I clearly remember the day a friend and I, probably in late elementary school at the time, were in my kitchen with my mom talking about doing gymnastics. My mom promptly dropped to the kitchen floor into the splits, shocking both of us beyond words. In her book, being deeply, randomly silly was a core part of the mom job description.
If my poor children are raised with the currently counter-cultural belief that they are not the center of my universe, well, that is also my mother’s fault. For example, if as a child I demanded attention on any given evening and the nightly news was on, my mother most certainly did NOT drop everything, turn off the news, and come sit on the floor and play educational games with me. Oh, no.
She told me in no uncertain terms to go find something to do in another room of the house, and let her watch the news for 30 minutes, for Pete’s sake. My brother and I were very clear on the fact that while we were deeply loved, and were very important parts of my parents’ lives, we were not the center of their lives. Thus, we were never entrusted with the entire burden of my parents’ happiness, or the success or failure of their existence, and we were free to make our own mistakes and our own way in the world.
If my boys are blessed with the stability and freedom of knowing they are an important part of my life but they are not my life, well, that’s her fault. If they know I am good at word games, but not good at regularly dusting for cobwebs, well, that will also be my mother’s fault. If I win at water balloons and lose at sock folding, if I teach them to do what they love and not what pays well, if they choose to seek out strong women who stand up for what is right instead of tolerating what is comfortable, well, I’ll know who to blame.
Those parts will all be my mother’s fault.
From the bottom of my heart, thanks a lot, Mom. And Happy Mother’s Day.