Being a mother is a tricky business and there are no operating manuals to tell us how to do it. It’s seat-of-the-pants, learn-as-you-go with each child presenting a different set of idiosyncrasies and personal preferences. It is the single most important title I’ve ever had in my life and the job I love the best. I was privileged to be a stay-at-home mom to my three kiddos (now all in their 50s). I will follow that statement up with how eternally tired I felt having all the little ones within four years. I’m amazed that mothers of twins, triplets, etc. can survive. There were days when I wondered if I’d EVER not be washing diapers. Yes, that is how long ago I had little ones. Disposables were just beginning to become the fashion, but they were ill-fitting. I had a diaper service for the first few months of each baby but after that, I was on my own. I ADORE babies and toddlers so I was in heaven – a kind of sleep deprived euphoria. There were days when my husband would come home from work and I’d still be in my nightgown never having a minute to take a shower and get dressed. It was a three ring circus for many many years. I loved watching them learn, watching their personalities develop, watching their joy as they came to know the world around them. I would have been happy having twelve babies, but my husband said three was enough. He worked hard to support our little brood. Those were my glory days. Then they grew up. I still love them all to pieces as wonderful independent, self-sufficient, adults, but their childhoods are the diamonds and gold in my treasure chest of memories – even if somewhat blured by my lack of sleep.
I didn’t appreciate my mother until I became an older adult and could understand her. She was not the mother I thought I needed or wanted. She and I had very different world views and clashed often as I grew up. She was a dedicated career woman, and I don’t think she particularly wanted to be a mother. My father came home from WWII with a fierce need to have a family. I was raised by a series of nannies most of my youth. To her credit, Mom hired sweet, nurturing women, but I yearned for a mother who stayed home as all my friends had. She needed the challenge and feedback from the adult business world. She was a classy lady, very smart, and actually excelled at two jobs – her career plus that of being a wife and mother. She did both at a very high level and much better than I would have been able to do. She was widowed at the age of forty-nine. My brother was fourteen and she had to be mother, father, and head of the family through his teen years. I’m sure those years were very difficult. I was married with a young family of my own by then. Mom continued working a full-time job that she loved until she was seventy-five. She never complained and always expressed a positive outlook.
She and I were able to heal our relationship when she was in her 60s and I in my 30s. We took a trip to Europe together and got to know one another on an adult level as we traveled from country to country. One of our stops in Italy, was the Vatican. As we walked through St. Peter’s Square, a pigeon flew overhead and pooped on Mom’s head. Locals told us It was a good luck sign. Decades later and a few weeks after she died, I saw the movie Under the Tuscan Sun with Diane Lane. In the movie, a bird flew over and pooped on the heroine’s head. I laughed so hard and thought, ‘Oh, Mom must see this. She’ll get a big kick out of it.’ When the movie was over, I had a strong desire to call her and tell her I’d take her to the show. Suddenly I realized she wasn’t here anymore. I felt my heart crack, tears welled up. A memory we shared was now only mine. I miss her and I am so grateful we had her last twenty plus years to strengthen our relationship. Some children and parents don’t have that blessing of connection. Thank you, Mom, for being you and a strong role model. I love you.
Children are our legacy and the reason we are put on this earth. Happy Mother’s Day.