Friday, June 23, 2006

Mother, My Mother

YewNorkBabe - can you tell I hang out at her place sometimes? - talked about the wonders of daughters not too long ago. I thought I would piggyback on that, if I may, to talk about moms from the perspective of a daughter. See, I thought of this because my mother is - among many things - a graphic designer. She helps me with my business. At the moment I am writing this, she is working on an ad for us to put in the newspaper, which we do monthly and I like to do new ones each time if I can. (It's over there. Isn't it beautifully simple?)

My mother sent one draft to me that I thought was too busy, not quite it. I explained what I wanted to see and presto! That's what I got back and more. That's what she does. She takes what I give her and makes more out of it. That's what she's always done but it was hard to appreciate it growing up. We were always butting heads because - drum roll please. I am about to break the children's code of secrecy and admit - we are very much alike. As the longstanding argument goes, she said black so I'd say white. Why? Uh un uh.(Shrugging shoulders). Because that's what children do to exercise their independence and I see it every day as my 2-year-old daughter flaunts her freeness of mind in my face every, single, solitary day.

My mother and I had lots of tense moments but I can only speak from my side of things because, frankly, she still keeps her emotions to herself. However, I suspect she wouldn't agree with that assessment. Nevertheless, we'd have our good days and our horrible ones and I just never understood her. Her sisters, who I do get along with tremendously, were her voice. Again, she'd probably disagree, but they kept me from throwing in the towel. (Sorry, mommy. It's true.) Today she is a happily retired 55-year-old woman with miles to go before she sleeps and I can see a world of change in her since that retirement. The lesson I believe that was proven here is one that I've been telling people for years and they'd accuse me of being selfish - don't put your life on hold for your children. If YOU are happy, they will be happy.

I never thought of my mother as happy until she was free from the need to work to help my father pay the bills. He got a government job when he was 19 and so was able to retire at about 55 years old. As one gets older, one understands how young that really is. He retired and took her with him. They moved to my paternal grandparents' house in Georgia and built their own house around that house so they could stay on the land and preserve the old house. (Yes, "around" the old house is precisely what it sounds like, though difficult to imagine, I know.) That woman, as my brother and I joke, is NOT the person we grew up with. She's so happy to be persuing her love of writing and photography and graphic design. She running committees and winning awards for her efforts. She can concentrate on her own business now which she tried to run as a full-time worker but it was hard. She can fully be mother and grandmother and I know - I can see - she is happy.

That wasn't the case growing up. I believe she sacrificed her desires to meet our needs and I'll never know how necessary that really was. But I said to her then and say to women now, find your balance. Do your stuff too, don't just do what you think your kids need you to do and suppress your happiness. It's not good for you or them. I'm sure lots of people will find reasons why I should not be so black and white on this, but all I have is my own experience with it. I didn't like seeing her unhappy. And my children have proven that all they want is to be with me, even in the midst of my doing my own thing. That's the challenge for me. Finding a way to include them and if I can't then I try to work around their schedules and needs. I'd rather lose sleep, have a good relationship with them and be happy overall than be the model mom sacrificing everything for my children and putting myself last all the time. Because guess what? They grow up and get lives of their own. Then where will you be?

1 comment:

Looney Mom said...

Time does fly... got 2 out of the house, my first-born just turned 13 and my "baby" is going to Kindergarten in the fall. Whoa!

Thanks for stopping by with some encouragement. "Strive" and "endure"... I will do just that.