There is no denying that the modern family is changing. More and more women are working outside the home, and more and more of us are juggling our careers with raising children and now step-children as well. We are masters of multitasking – planning carpools, negotiating raises, nursing sick husbands, organizing fundraisers and preparing meals – and all that can happen before lunch! How on earth do we do it?
Well, I know we gather strength and knowledge from many places, the first of which being from our Father above. But in honor of Mother’s Day, I’d like to focus on the 3 mom’s in my life that have taught me the most.
– My mother. My mom spent 35 years working for IBM. You know how when you picture someone in your mind, you always have a certain way they looked or dressed that pops up, no matter how many years have passed? When I think of my mom I see her from 1982 – dressed in her suit, complete with panty hose and open toed high heels. I thought she was the strongest woman in the world. She taught me to work hard, and that even when one door closes, there’s always another one to be opened.
She showed me that cross-country trips provided excellent bonding time, even if it meant listening to my Devo tape a hundred times.
She taught me that college was a must, that mistakes were inevitable, and that it’s ok to cry during just about any movie.
It’s funny – I can think of my mom as she was back when I was a little girl and my parents were still married. I can picture her when it was just the two of us doing life together. I remember her remarrying and starting a new chapter of her life, including becoming a step-mom. And now I see her retired and taking time to enjoy an empty nest. There were so many times I didn’t understand her when I was young. But know I look at her journey and I see that she was navigating her road just like we all do, with the twists and turns and mountains and valleys. Sometimes our paths overlapped, sometimes they wandered in completely different directions, but I know they are going to the same place. We just won’t get there in exactly the same way. And that’s okay.
– My Stepmom. I was about 11 when my dad starting dating the woman who would become my stepmom. I remember the first time I went to spend the weekend with him and he told me she was coming to the movies with us. I didn’t like it. She was invading on my time! By the time they married I’d come around. In fact, they fit together so naturally I had already started calling her son my brother.
At 13 I moved in with my dad & step-mom. Boy did she get on my nerves that year. To me it seemed like she was always in my space. I was used to living with just my mom who worked long hours, so it was strange to have a parent around so much.
As I’ve grown up we’ve become very close. And I realize that she taught me so many things, even when I had no idea I was learning them. She taught me that routines make kids feel safe. Every day before school she would tell me what we were going to have for dinner. Such a little thing, but I always knew the family would gather and food would be waiting. I felt safe.
She’s honest and open, and she allowed my dad the freedom to help me out, even when I’m sure she didn’t agree. She taught me that being a good “step” is not acting like a “step”. It’s just loving. Does she love me exactly the way she loves her own kids? No. She loves me in an individual way. And that’s how I love each of mine, as individuals.
– My Grandma – I cannot list the great Moms in my life without including my Grandma. I love that she’ll read this when I post it on Facebook because that’s how she keeps up with all her kids and grandkids and great-grandkids. Grandma loved me at my most unlovable. Those years when I barely spoke to any of my parents and was determined to be a wild child. She was tough, and sometimes I thought she was downright mean. (Like the time when I was 7 & she wanted me to bathe in the middle of the day so I climbed to the top of a tree to wait her out. She won. I’m actually surprised she didn’t climb right up after me)
Grandma taught me that women can be strong-willed and determined, and still have great husbands and great friendships. She let me catch grasshoppers in her garden, she saddled a horse so I could ride through the forest, she square-danced with grandpa and taught me the importance of having a man you can dance with. The day I filed for my divorce Grandma was the only one I called. She said, “sometimes you just have to do what makes you happy.”
Grandma taught me how a mom is the sun around which a family orbits & gathers warmth.
People have told me I’m a good mom. I believe that. And I know why. Because I’ve been blessed with 3 of the best, most imperfect women in the world. I wouldn’t have them any other way because I wouldn’t have learned those valuable lessons from women who had nothing to learn.
(archived from May 10, 2013)