Friday, June 13, 2008

Mother of the moment

I'm thinking about how when I was a young mother, it never occured to me that there are different kinds of mothering you do at different moments in your children's lives. These thoughts are all rising up in me as my children become adults and prepare to leave home.

So: You are a different kind of Mother at different moments of your children's lives. Back home from the hospital with your newborn, you are, quite simply, the cow. Your job is to provide milk.

Then you become the teacher. You teach them how to talk, walk, and ETCETERA. The big etcetera takes the next 17 years. LOL! The first time your toddler takes his first steps away from you, realize that they already have one foot out the door, exploring their world. And that your job is to welcome them back, every single time.

As the mother of teenagers, your job is to stop teaching, and to listen. To them.

The job of the empty nest mother is simply to exist.

It is the knowledge of your existence that they want, not your physical presence.

You should be in the house, but not in the room.

You should be there, not here.

You should be alive, not dead.

You have always been here to serve them, but now, you must only be available to help them only when they ask for it.

Memory: The equanimity of George & Helen

It is only now, after the death of my iconic parents, and with the approaching adulthood of my children, that I can fully appreciate the gracious, nonmeddling attitude of my parents toward my life and my brother's life. George & Helen were supportive of whatever we did and let us go. They respected our choices. They let us make our own mistakes and supported us when we needed it.
Mother never complained about spending Christmas or other holidays without us, when we had in-law commitments. Never. I can just imagine she didn't like it, but she never complained. Going home was always a pleasure. They didn't particularly like our choice of spouses...and the ensuing divorces...but they never criticized our choices. WOW! That's a lesson for me. I will keep that in mind!

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