"The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new." ~Rajneesh
Today I continue my month-long reflection of the legacy of women who've played a role in my life.
I always wanted to be a "good mom." I tried hard; I read parenting books; I asked for advice from my own mom; I had many a long conversation with my sister (who was a mom before I was) and trusted friends. I spent all my energy on "mothering" and I was (well, still am!) devoted to my kids.
Still, there were many times when I struggled. Sometimes, I worried about small things. Is it a long-term problem to reward your toddler with M&Ms? What message am I sending if I allow my child to continue designing and building elaborate weaponry with K'nex? Is "Star Wars" too intense for a 6-year-old? Other times, the stakes were much higher. Will my kids be better off in another school district? What to do about a particular pal who really IS a bad influence? Am I too involved in problems they need to work out for themselves?
It's always something. When you're a mom.
I couldn't have gotten this far without my mom and my sister and my own good friends! They helped me think through, and talk through, and even drink through (!) the rough spots.
But, every once in a while, advice showed up unexpectedly. Unsolicited. But just what I needed to hear. At just the right time. From the mouths of other moms I didn't really know all that well.
Today, I want to pay tribute to women who've influenced my "mothering" in huge ways -- but not through the day-to-day support that my own mom and my sister and my friends provided. No. Today, I want to pay tribute to the well-timed, perhaps even off-the-cuff statement that just . . . rang true. . . for me at that particular moment in time.
Little snippets of advice. . . that came when I least expected it . . . that stayed with me and shaped the kind of mother I became through the years.
There was Carol. . . who wisely counseled that "Being your child's advocate is NOT the same as running her life." Carol's words - spoken to me in the earliest days of Erin's elementary school days - were instrumental in helping me support Erin (and, later, Brian) through their school years. There is a difference between "advocating for" and "managing" your child. Carol turned that little light on in my head. And I am pleased to see that, far from being "managed", each of my children is now an advocate for themselves. Thanks, Carol!
And Kate . . . who called my office on a day I was struggling mightily with a big parenting decision. I ended up spilling the beans to this woman I barely knew (it was one of those days), and she quietly advised, "Listen to what's in your heart; trust yourself when it comes to your children. You know what to do." And, with that, my decision was clear. Kate helped me realize that I knew all along what was right -- I was just struggling to DO it. Thanks, Kate!
And Colette. . . a workshop leader who just made a chance comment. In a presentation, she said, "Can you imagine how powerful it is for your children to hear that you are delighted with them? Delighted. Just the way they are." It was a moment that gave me a little tingle. An epiphany! And, lucky for my kids, I heard those words when Erin was only 4. Both my kids have heard, through the years, that I am "delighted" with them; not just when they do something "delightful," but every day. All the time. Thanks, Colette!
And the unnamed Ultrasound Technician. . . who assured me, in the first trimester of my pregnancy with Erin (when there was a threatened problem that ended up being nothing) that . . . "Worry is what being a mother is all about. It never stops. Get used to it." I have no idea who she was, but she was reassuring and helpful at the time. I have thought about her often over the last 23 years. She was right. The worry never ends. Thanks, Ultrasound Technician!
Chance suggestions. . . from amazing women . . . who just happened to bring me words of wisdom when I needed them most!