This Journey of Motherhood
I am not my mother, even when I hear words popping out of my mouth that sound suspiciously like words I heard her say to me. As a girl and even a young woman, I thought of my mom as a bit of a super woman. When I became a mom, a dream come true, I thought I would never be able to measure up to all the things I had seen and experienced my mother do.
I watched my mom make the budget stretch in creative ways. She sewed all my clothes, even when I did not always appreciate it at the time. Occasionally, she made my outfits from things her sisters had given her – their discards, so to speak. She could coax a small city garden plot to produce an abundance of vegetables to offset the high price of groceries, but also added the colour of beautiful flowers for all of us to enjoy. Everything was baked and cooked from scratch with yummy results.
My mother stayed home with us, but kept a houseful of boarders to help make ends meet. I remember times that with the boys who stayed with us, our own family of four, and another family that showed up, our evening meal might include a dozen people. How did she make it look so simple?
As I began my own journey into motherhood, I wondered how I could possibly offer all these things to my own children. I had a rather black thumb, so gardening proved to be a chore that did not bode well for providing food for my family. My cooking and baking were adequate and I even occasionally enjoyed doing them. Yet, I felt nothing I made compared to the meals I had eaten at my mother’s table. Any attempts at sewing fueled my frustration at how many times I might have to rip out a seam. Then my mom would show up with a suitcase of outfits for my children and I gave up this endeavour.
It took me years to realize I could be a good mom without doing what my mother did. Yet, I still often wished for her abilities. She enjoyed doing things like sewing, cooking, baking, gardening, and yes even cleaning, while I loved to explore the world of studying.
I often wished for an instruction manual to help do this role called motherhood. My mother offered suggestions. Sometimes I actually welcomed them. After all, she had experience. At other times I felt her ideas might be just too old fashioned. Now I wish she was here to ask how to mother adult children and enjoy all the grandchildren, some of whom have reached that age of becoming adults.
Motherhood has been filled with traumatic events at times. Each of my four children had a time where I wondered if they might die, but those are stories for another time. There have been moments where the battle of wills between a determined child or teen, and a stubborn mother have caused hurt feelings and caused me to question my ability to parent. There were times I did not adapt quickly enough to the changing needs and stages of life of my children, and I almost pushed them away. Where is that instruction book, again?
Yet despite those times that caused fear or hurt or a longing for a do over button, I like to remember the times we laughed together – my children, my mother and me. I love to look back on times we celebrated a milestone reached, a goal met, or a new stage of life. I remember the vacations, the special holidays, the excitement on Christmas morning, or just a hug. These are the joys of motherhood.
Becoming a grandmother is an even greater joy. Spending time with the next generation means I am still connected with my children. Now I hear my children say things I know I have said, and have heard my mother say before. Maybe each generation longs for an instruction manual on this journey of motherhood.
I am not my mother with all the wonderful qualities she possessed. My children are not the same parents as I am. But we are all connected by blood, and by choice. Sometimes, it is okay to imitate my mother. She always told her grandchildren they would never get to big or too old to hug their grandmother. They complied and always offered hugs. I chose to tell that to my grandchildren, as well. Some things are just worth copying, but I am not my mother. I am my own unique version of mom who still operates without an instruction manual.
Written by: Carol Harrison