Mother’s Day – more or less

As a kid raised by a single mom, I always dreaded Father’s Day and the absence of a male parent to honor. Mother’s Day was easy and we usually celebrated with school art projects, cards and flowers liberated from a garden that wouldn’t notice the theft of a few tulips or daffodils. It was pretty simple.

Now, nearly a quarter century into being a mother, I’ve come to learn that very little about mothering is simple. In fact, it’s maddeningly complex.

Becoming a mother altered my perspective of every mother I’d ever known, including my own. For me, conceiving and birthing a child didn’t just create a new parent/child relationship, it actually altered an existing one – the one between me and my mom. I began to question the choices my own mother had made and started to look at her, not as you might expect with increased empathy, but instead, more critically.

As a new mom, I listened to my mother when she insisted that babies needed hats and schedules. I respected her experience and accepted her advice. I knew that she had decades of child rearing under her belt and that, comparatively, I was sorely lacking in mothering skills. Or was I?

When my firstborn son became seriously ill, I was the one who insisted that something was wrong and that he needed immediate medical attention. I was right. After his eventual recovery, I was inclined to blame myself for his condition – why didn’t I act sooner? Decades later, I’ve almost turned the corner from abject guilt to self respect, at least in that particular situation.

There are decisions we make as mothers that stay with us forever.

Never in my life did I believe my ultimate contribution to society would be my offspring. I may have brought them into this world, but how they’ll be remembered when they’re one day gone, is up to them individually. I’m a hard ass with strong beliefs about personal responsibility and independence and communication and my sons, like most of us, are works in progress. Witnessing their growth is my favorite part of motherhood.

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My oldest is stunningly generous, but has limited financial experience. My middle is self supporting, but comfortable asking for help when he needs it and developing a pattern for making fairly sound money decisions. The youngest and I are at loggerheads, a phrase I never imagined needing to describe our relationship, over the eternal conflict of simply being fifteen. He’s a yeller, which makes me crazy, but he never says goodbye without including an “I love you” on the way out the door. They may each be in different places, but they’re all moving forward.

Motherhood is an acknowledgment of both strengths and areas in need of growth.

Take your victories where you find them, moms, and remember that it isn’t always about what we teach them. Often, it’s about what they teach us.

Happy Mother’s Day. xo

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