In honor of the fast approaching Hallmark-card-holiday, Mother’s Day, I would like to put my two cents in. The Internet has been on fire with posts, stories, notes and blogs on the subject. Some are poignant pleas for well-behaved children who grow up happy and self-sufficient. There are lovely odes to the quirky presents that represent the most basic expressions of love. I teared up over one of my favorite bloggers, Carrie Cariello’s guest post on Autism Speaks’ blog. Another friend sent me this post titled “Dear Moms of Adopted Children.” It opened my mind, and heart, to challenges I never had to consider as a mother.
Everyone has an opinion about Mother’s Day so here is mine. There is no stronger yet more fragile bond in this world. No matter how you come to the role, it is a choice you make the first time with no idea what it will mean. Think of jumping off a bridge and fully assuming the water will be deep and soft and you will swim elegantly.
From the child’s eye view, mothers hold the key to all emotions. They serve up ice cream buckets of happiness; or they shake you to your core with realizations of fear, anxiety and guilt.
Humility. My mother toilet trained me, sat with me through illness and injury, cried with me over pets we lost. There was nothing she didn’t know about my body or soul. When Alzheimer’s weakened the bonds of her mind and spinal stenosis took away her body, I visited with my daughter, Lexie and we sat with her. She asked to be wheeled to the toilet. I lifted her, arranged her; Lexie and I turned to give her some privacy. She laughed softly and said, “Lexie, some day please laugh about having a conversation with me while I took a pee.”
Acceptance. A mother accepts and molds her life around who and what her child is. If the child is different in a way that society is bound to place an extra burden on that child’s life, a mother assumes the burden and teaches the child to navigate. Conversely, I accept what society and life placed on my mother at the time she was struggling to define her role.
Lenience. I am puzzled how helicopter parenting even came about in the short, twenty-five years since I became a mother. Walking around the barn barefoot in summer is a health hazard in so many ways. But somewhere between my telling you that, and you getting your foot stomped by a pony, is the lesson to be learned. You won’t die, and you won’t do it again. A mother’s job is to determine her level of indulgence on a minute-by-minute basis.
Forgiveness. Just as mothers forgive our wrongs as children, through motherhood, I find I can forgive my mother her injustices, real or imagined.
Self-reliance. I believe one of the hardest lessons of motherhood is the balance between clearing the path for the dawning of self-reliance and being accused of neglect. I will sit on my hands while you struggle to reach a goal all by yourself, but it isn’t because I want to. Conversely, when my children left home, I had to relearn emotional self-reliance.
Happy Mother’s Day and Happy Birthday, Mom.
|Barbara Woods Walsh
May 11, 1927 – January 16, 2010