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Saturday, May 10, 2014

What my mom does for me

The natural state of motherhood is unselfishness. When you become a mother, you are no longer the center of your own universe. You relinquish that position to your children.
~ Jessica Lange ~

Often moms are like wallpaper or weather - the many things they do each day are in the background of our lives, not coming to our attention unless they're undone and something negative happens ("my shorts aren't washed!", "you promised you would drive me!", "you forgot to pay for the field trip!"). Mother's Day is rolling around again, and while it brings my personal "mom-role" to the foreground of my thoughts, it also makes me think about my own mom and the gifts she's given me in my life.

Being a good mother does not call for the same qualities as being a good housewife; a dedication to keeping children clean and tidy may override an interest in their separate development as individuals ~ Ann Oakley ~
The above quote captures the essence of my mom's greatest gifts to me. She was not an avid housekeeper - at any given time in our childhood, the phrase "comfortably messy" would be the best descriptor for our house. And this was to the benefit of me and my brothers and sisters. My mom is an intelligent and creative person with a great kindness and compassion for all people and creatures. She used her mothering time to bring us music and art and a love of books, she rescued kittens who had fallen down the well (even though she was terrified to crawl backwards down the slippery ladder to get them) because we asked her to, she used her training as a nurse to bandage said kittens and all of us kids time and again. She was interested in us as individuals, encouraged us to develop our talents and was our biggest booster (even when we laughed at her "mom goggles" we appreciated the fact that she always had our backs). Much more important than having floors you could eat off.
But I think possibly the most valuable gift she gave to me was her way of seeing the best in everyone she met, of being able to love the unlovable, to see good things where others saw nothing worthwhile - her belief in other people sometimes caused her pain, but more often than not resulted in them finding themselves living up to her vision, trying to become that good thing she saw. This optimism blended with compassion is what I try to bring to my own roles as mom, therapist and friend - my mother is my conscience and thinking of what she would say brings me back on track time and again.
In my line of work, I have the great good fortune to work closely with many moms. Take a look at some of the things these moms do with and for their children, as seen through the eyes of their boys:

 Kevin and his mom plant a garden together every spring. When Kevin originally wrote the sentence that Mr. Bean says, he put it together as "That's lovely a garden". In my great wisdom, I helped him move the "a" and correct it to "That's a lovely garden". Then Kevin's mom, who has a wonderful English accent, spoke the first sentence aloud: "That's lovely. A garden!" (my correction was misplaced).

Adam's mom has embraced Adam's desire to learn new art skills, and has joined him in taking up painting - they're learning together. Not only that, but she has converted an entire room in their house into a painting studio for the two of them to share (with the help of Adam's dad as contractor!). 

And Owen appreciates the fact that his mom will "spring" him from school when he is at the end of his mental rope - her sensitivity to his inner state allows him to regroup and go back to finish his work another day.

So, on this Mother's Day Eve, take a minute to think of what gifts your mom has brought to your life, and if you can, give her a call and say "Thanks!" ... as for me, I think my mom will understand when I end with this quote (not all childhood stories and secrets need to be revealed!):

My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it
~ Mark Twain ~