Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Thoughts on Mothering

Mother’s Day is a time to express our appreciation to our mothers for all they have done and continue to do for us. But it is also a time to reflect on the women who helped us to become the mothers we are.

Aunt Myrtle102 o4May04

The picture above was taken on the occasion of my greatly–beloved Aunt Myrtle’s 102nd birthday. Now THERE was a mama! The Red Hat Society regalia was not at all her style, but she had a great sense of humor and was always a good sport.  For much of my life, Aunt Myrtle-- who was fifteen years older than my mother--- was as close to me as any grandmother. She was 103-1/2 when her time on earth ended and her life was celebrated by five generations.  Upon her death, my mother became the matriarch of our family.

Primarily, I was taught by my own mother’s example as she nourished and cared for us, her children. Probably the most important thing that she taught me was her Christian values and the power of prayer, and the importance of passing these along to our children. I remember people in church around us being surprised that our three-year-old sons joined in to recite the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostles’ Creed. She taught me the joy of singing and I sang a lot to my babies and toddlers to soothe them, but also to teach them early language skills.

My sister also taught me as she had her daughter first and I could watch to see what motherhood was about for someone closer in age to me. The majority of her mother-time was as a single parent, a very hard job indeed. I learned from her the need to balance your life to benefit your children.

We had a next-door neighbor when we were growing up who had three delightful little girls. I sometimes babysat them. I used to hang out at their house and see how they were truly adored, but not spoiled. This young mother died tragically in an accident and I feel her loss to this day, decades later.

My mother-in-law kept children in her home and so I was able to learn from her, also.

I learned from parents of children I taught before I ever had my own. Often it was what NOT to do, as that can be so much more obvious. I learned that common sense will go a long way in raising a child. I learned to take a child out of a public place when they are disturbing others there.  I learned that they certainly did not need a fraction of what they wanted badly at the moment: it is OK to say “no” and say it often. But I also learned that it is good to say “yes” when it is important. I learned that children given the proper attention rarely act out to gain attention, as they learn to be secure of their parents’ love. I learned that children need clear boundaries and consistent responses to their behavior. Children need routines that give them predictability in their life. I learned that it is extremely important to talk to your child, talk to your child, talk to your child: explain the world to them and give things names to develop their concepts and vocabulary. ( I am alarmed seeing more and more parents who need to put down that cell phone and talk to their child.) I learned that the goal is to teach them to be humans that people enjoy being around.

If the proof is in the pudding, I guess I have done my half of the parenting alright. Our babies grew into fine young men--- humans that people enjoy being around.

In many ways, I am Mama to a class full of kindergartners every year.  The majority of them turn out alright, too.

So, thanks to all the women who taught me along the way!


Anonymous said...

That is a very touching post.

David said...