I Am Not My Mother, But…

 In Weekly Forum Discussion

Written by: Carol Harrison; Carol’s Corner

For years the negative monkey voices kept their running dialogue floating through my mind. At times they whispered and I could almost shut them out. Other times they shouted so loud that nothing positive about my role as wife, mother, and homemaker had a hope of drowning them out. You see, even though I always dreamed of being a mom, I compared myself to the amazing things my mother could do and make seem effortless. I knew I was not my mother but I wanted to be like her in so many ways.

As I think about how I compared myself to my mother and found myself wanting, I realize she taught me many lessons I use every day, but in different interest areas than she did. It took many years into my own years of motherhood to understand what my mom had to do in order to fill my childhood with good memories, love and protection.

Mom sewed my clothes, her own and even some for my brother. She could take scraps of fabric and make a warm, beautiful crazy quilt. She decorated the living room and even my bedroom with throw pillows and dresser scarves all made by hand with crocheted trim. These little touches added a sense of elegance and beauty to our home even with limited funds. I loved her creativity which likely sprang from necessity.

In the early morning hours, from spring to fall, I found my mother out in her small garden. I never understood how she could make such a small plot of city ground grow so many vegetables and still have room in the yard for the beauty of flowers from bright red salvia that grew in the shaded front yard to sweet peas crawling up the garage wall. She coaxed enough from that tiny plot to make the food budget stretch through the long winter months. Yet, despite a small income she never failed to set another place at the table for a guest, her sisters or share with the neighbors. Her home cooked meals might have been plain fare but it filled our stomachs and tasted yummy. She provided a positive example for how to create nourishing, tasty food on a limited budget by growing her own, shopping sales and cooking from scratch. The things I remember the most were the comradery around a very full table and sharing with others, especially the elderly.

Mom and dad loved to go to Northern Saskatchewan for a fishing weekend with friends. As a child I did not like fishing but loved the water and being in the boat. It took until I was a teenager to realize my mother was terrified of the water. Mom insisted I take swimming lessons by the time I turned six. It took her until in her early forties to boldly take hold of her fear, face it head on and take her own swimming lessons. She persevered and not only overcame the fear but learned to love the water. My husband cared for our children while my mother and I spent an hour a day swimming lengths at the pool together. She taught me to face fears, do what it takes to overcome them and then reap the benefits. I wish I could say I always remember that lesson when things become challenging, but too often it takes many times of trial and error and sometimes shrinking back in terror until I remember what I learned from my mother.

Learning to swim in her forties was not the only time my mom showed me by her actions you are never too old to learn something new.  Shortly before I was old enough to take driver training, my mother took private driving lessons. Some days she returned home with frustration written on her face but she never gave up. She kept going until she proudly held her driver’s license in her thirties and never looked back.

I am not my mother. I do not sew or garden or make her fantastic sticky cinnamon buns but I always tried to make our home a place of love, safety and protection for our children. I wanted them to learn helping others is a good thing. It can and does look different for each person who chooses to share something of themselves with others.

The best things to shut down those negative voices in my mind are to never give up and remember mom’s example of never being too old to learn something new. I love to tell stories, study and speak, which are things my mother never did or wanted to do. It took me a long time to realize I can do what I need to do to be myself, use the gifts I have and live my own life. I am uniquely created. My creativity shows in different ways than my mother’s did.  I am not my mother, but I can still use her wonderful lessons.  Keep learning. Never quit. Be compassionate.

Recommended Posts