A Mother’s Enduring Touch


Growing up I always said I was never going to have kids.  I didn’t really play with babydolls and stollers.  I don’t even think I ever had a babydoll.  Maybe because there were always real babies around our house, I didn’t need a doll and I didn’t need to play pretend.  As the oldest girl in a family of 7 children, I did countless diaper changes and bottle feedings, it wasn’t that much fun in my opinion.  I can remember I was completely enamored with and much more interested in the lives of Mary Tyler Moore, Miss Alice Johnson on Room 222, and Ann Marie, That Girl.  My mom’s feelings would get hurt when I would proclaim that I was going to be an independent career woman.  She felt this was a judgement against her chosen and beloved vocation.  I had a sense as a child that she was particularly good at being a mom.  I now know that she was beyond exceptional.

I got married when I was in my mid 30’s and we agreed that we weren’t really interested in having children.  I channeled my nuturing instincts into gardening, my many neices and nephews and my pets.  I was happy and fulfilled.  I had a job that required extensive travel and I didn’t have to feel guilty about being away.  I loved working with so many different people in so many different areas of the country.  I enjoyed being able to just kick back when I was home – spending weekends hanging out with friends and enjoying family get-togethers.  It wasn’t until five years into the marriage, when my mom died, that I struggled to find purpose and meaning in my life.  My therapist first brought up that many people cope with the loss of their parents through the parenting of their own children.  I wasn’t sure what to do with that – I certainly didn’t want grieving over my mom to be a reason to bring a child into the world.

Eleven months after my mom died, my sister was in a fatal car accident.  If you have read any of my previous blog posts, you will know that this is how I came to take on the role of being a mom.  That was nearly seven years ago.  There have been so many changes in my life that came about as a result of this decision.  The one that may be the greatest blessing is remembering the mother that my mom was, and being inspired by her courage, depth of love, natural playfulness, and her undying, persistent optimism.

Mom made everything playful and a game.  I can honestly say that some of the most fun we had were doing things like painting the house, washing the walls, doing our weekly chores, cooking and baking.  We would have music playing, and be dancing and singing throughout the tasks at hand.  We would joke and play and laugh.  We painted each other, doused each other in water, chased each other around the house and generally had fun together.  As long as we all worked together to clean up the messes we made, mom not only didn’t mind, but often was right in the middle of it all.  I have to say, that I do remember a time our family friends were over when our parents weren’t home.  Don’t ask how, but we all got into a “fairy dust” fight.  If it was white and powdery, it was fairy dust.  We had baby powder, flour, baking soda, powdered suger and heaven knows what else all over each other and the entire house.  Mom and dad walked into the middle of this little game.  She was not amused.  It took us the entire day to clean up the mess we made.  I am sure, that out of our sight, she must have had a good chuckle, though.

Everything I have learned from her has helped me in my efforts to raise my kids and to help them work through their emotional pain.  She showed me how to be firm and funny at the same time.  She was exceptionally talented at tough love.  She had high expectations and never made me feel like a failure.  She worked hard, played hard and loved unconditionally.  She did not back down from difficult decisions and would fight to the death for the good of her children.  At times, she so identified with her role as a mother that she struggled with letting go and creating opportunities for independence.  I learned from that as well. 

The one thing she taught me that has most helped me to parent my kids, is that there are no bad kids.  There are behaviors that may be unacceptable, but the behavior does not make the kid.  And there is nothing that cannot be made better with love and laughter.  When I remember this, and stay committed to love above anger and fear, I am at total peace, regardless of how chaotic and disregulated the kids are.  This is also when I feel my mom with me, celebrating the joy of parenting.

copyrighted 2/18/10 – Happy Birthday, Mom ❤

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