This morning I was thinking about the relationship I’ve had with my mom and how it has progressed over time.
One thing I’ve always known is that my mom loves me and wants the best for me. I was raised by a wonderful, loving mother! She would sacrifice anything for my sister and me, if needed, because she always put our needs (not wants, mind you) first. When I was little, I remember thinking she was likely the best mom ever in the world. I wanted to grow up to be like her.
Until I was 10, my mom stayed home to take care of my sister and me. However, I never felt, as a kid, that she gave up herself for us either. She had clear views and goals in life–even going back to school to get a degree starting when I was in third grade.
As a kid in the 70s, I grew up with a lot more sexism than many little girls, like my daughters, face now. Television shows portrayed the jobs for women as being nurses and stewardesses (now called flight attendants), not doctors and pilots, if a woman had a job at all. I would tell Mom that when I grew up I wanted to be a stewardess and she would ask me, “Why not a pilot?” She wanted me to strive for what I could be, not be limited by the roles for women being presented in the media.
Like most moms, mine worried about my sister and me, but she wasn’t a helicopter parent (nor was she free range, but something in the middle). Heck, when my family was stationed in Germany the second time, my Girl Scout troop went to Berlin (for those youngsters out there—this was before the “Wall” came down–when there was a East/West Germany & East/West Berlin). I don’t remember Mom being worried one bit. She didn’t come, but trusted in the chaperones and encouraged me to have a great time. (Now that I’m a parent, I know she worried, but hid it well.)
Our relationship changed when I reached the age of 10. I changed. Because of puberty and my early (undiagnosed) battles with depression, I fought with my mom–a lot. I rebelled against her (and Dad, to a lesser degree). We could never agree on school clothes, make up, or anything else. It was always a battle. I thought she was annoying, butted into my business too much, and worried about me too much. My thought was that I was capable, and she should trust in me. It didn’t help that I was extremely moody and going through stuff that she didn’t understand. She thought it was just hormones rearing their ugly head. Later, in my 20s, we came to realize it was a clinical depression.
As I got into my later teens, Mom and I started to communicate better and she became a friend. At some point, my mom became one of my best friends. I knew I could trust her with anything. I still thought she worried way too much. She’d comment about something I was going to do while on the phone–you know, along the lines of “be careful”–and I would roll my eyes. My thought was that I’m a capable adult and know what I’m doing.
Now that I’m a mom, myself, I find myself appreciating my mom in ways I never had before. I always knew it was a mom’s job to worry about her children, but never “got it” until the moment I found out I was pregnant with my first child. I didn’t understand that the worry starts before your baby is even born.
When I was pregnant with Gigi, my first-born, I worried constantly. If the baby wasn’t moving in the same way one day to the next, I started to worry. Even if the baby was moving, I worried that something bad could happen or that the baby wouldn’t be born healthy. I soon realize that worrying wasn’t part of my new job. No, it was part of my connection to the baby. I finally understood why my mom worried so much.
As a mom of three littles, I know how hard it must have been for my mom the first time she let me go with a babysitter or overnight with friends or family. It was hard for me the first time I did that. It doesn’t feel right being separated from my babies. My whole focus as a mom is protecting my children. How can I protect them if I’m not with them?
My mom is an amazing mom whom I love very much! She has taught me a lot about being a mom from her example and all the little lessons she passed on to me as I grew up. I hope I can be as good a mom to my girls as she was to me.