As some of you may know, my mother passed away during the holidays. Fortunately, she had not suffered an extended illness, and I was able to be with her during her last days.
Because of the work I am blessed to do, I spend a tremendous amount of time thinking about and discussing the “job” of being a mom. For my mother, it was the only job she ever had, the only one she ever wanted. While not perfect, as I discussed with my family during her funeral, I choose to focus on the positive lessons I learned as I reflect upon her life as my mother.
My mother taught me, by example and by action, that I needed to stand up for myself and accept who I am. As a young child, she had me explain to my kindergarten class that I had a cleft lip and palate and that was why I looked the way I did. She had a newspaper clipping saved for me that said “I used to be handicapped but I’m not anymore because I refuse to allow it to be the most important part of my life.” She stayed with me in the hospital each time I had surgery, sleeping on a chair, and had me and those around me focus on the fun of the toys I would get (and the extra cookies I got to eat late at night before the morning’s surgery). It was part of who I was, my normal, and it never defined or limited me.
She stressed the importance of order, routine, and timeliness (okay, a bit too much for my personal style). When something was broken or needed to be done, she never hesitated to approach the task with confidence and belief that she could do whatever was necessary – she was a strong and capable person. I learned from her to approach challenges head-on and not to pass the buck or walk away.
Motherhood is a complex job. We must learn to be mothers as we are still learning so much about ourselves. Each child’s needs, temperament, and circumstances are so different. It takes time, observation, experience and patience to appreciate the unique nuances of each child and know how to adjust our sails as we find the right balance between our own childhood and the opportunities we have to influence that of our own children.
I hope each day that I can take the lessons I have learned, from my mother and from the many mothers I have been blessed to know both personally and professionally and be the best mother I can be. It is the greatest job in the world.