It’s been a complicated year for me. It has caused me to reflect on a lot of the relationships in my life, perhaps none quite as complicated as the relationship between between a mother and child.
It starts during pregnancy. Everything the mother does has a direct impact on the child and everything the child does worries the Mom or brings her joy.
I spent much of my children’s childhood as a single mother, so there was no other adult to leave the kids home with. To me, that meant if I wasn’t working, I was with my children. I would get out of work, drive home, all three of my kids would grab their bags that I had packed, or made sure they packed, the night before, and they would pile into our mini-van. They all had different activities; ballet, jazz, football, baseball, cheerleading, basketball, all in different places at different times. If they didn’t have an activity, they would sit in the van with me and we would do homework or talk. When everyone was done for the night, we would head home, lift the lid off the crock pot and have dinner together every night. My friends were the parents of my kid’s friends. My social life consisted of volunteering with my kid’s activities, quick change mom at The Nutcracker, Cheerleading Coach, Football team medic. I loved every minute of it. It was easy to figure out how to be a good mother. Spend time with your kids, be involved in their lives, be their soft landing when the world is cruel and their advocate when the world is really cruel and give them freedom to make certain choices knowing they had a good foundation and be there when they made less than stellar choices to help them learn from them. I made my share of parenting mistakes, but through it all, love was my guide.
I remember when I was the Sales Manager at Longfellows and we had a team building exercise. We had to think of the best team we were ever part of. We had to write down the characteristics of what made our team great. The team that immediately came to mind for me was the team of my kids and I. We cared about each other, we respected each other, we supported each other, we celebrated each other’s successes and we consoled each other during the difficult times.
My children are all adults and it’s harder to know how to be a good mom now. I still want to protect them when the world is cruel, even though I know (and they tell me) they can do it themselves. They all have their own homes and jobs and friends. I love when we can spend time together and I especially love when we all can be together. I don’t know all of their friends anymore and I definitely don’t know all the parents! Sometimes I’ve had to give some tough love so my children could find their own way. This was the toughest part.
I’ve been reflecting on the way the word Mother is used in the English language. Step-mother, Godmother, Grandmother, Mother-in-law, Back-stage Mom, Team Mom, Mother Nature. All of these uses of the word mother are endearing or symbolize a protective or nurturing nature of the relationship when the word mother is added. I am or have been all of these things except Mother Nature (although some would say I was a bit of a nature mom!) and they all had real meaning to me.
Although being a mom to adult children can be worrisome and a challenge at times, it is also source of great joy. Some things are still the same. I still worry about them. When they are sick or when someone hurts them, I want to make it better. I still celebrate their success and am proud to be on their team. I still love sharing meals with them. When my son was home in February, I cooked dinner for everyone. We laughed and caught up on each other’s lives and poked fun at each other, just as we did when they were kids. It was probably the highlight of my year! I also was reminded this past year that the things I say and do still have an impact on my kids, and I also know that I still make parenting mistakes.
There’s no training manual for this role. Luckily, I had a great role model. My mom is amazing. It’s still a learning process for me, but through it all, I know that at the heart of it all is a Mother’s Love, my mom’s love for me, my love for my kids and my daughter’s love for her son. It’s come full circle.
I have a lot to be thankful for this Mother’s Day. And I wish you all a Happy Mother’s Day!