So I got a good night’s rest last night, and I’m feeling a little better. Plus, aside from bedtime (Bun had a meltdown, but it is an exception instead of the rule these days) I didn’t have to give my girls time out yesterday.
It was a good night.
What I wrote yesterday and a lot of what I read that contributed to what I wrote got me thinking. And then I read this, about another mother, and it made me feel even better and left me amazed that someone could write so powerful a tribute to her amazing mom.
It made me think about my own mother on this spectrum of “bad” to Good.
My mom is a great mom. She is a real mom, if you know what I mean. Growing up, she didn’t give me unrealistic expectations of how to have a career and be a loving mom and wife. She wasn’t Super Mom. She was a super mom, and she is one of my heroes, but I never think to myself, “How did my mother do this?”
She just did it. When we were very young, she stayed home while my father (a pharmacist) worked full time and more than full time. Eventually, my mom started back to work (she is also a pharmacist) on a part-time basis — as little as one day a week. When her youngest daughter started first grade, my mom returned to work full time. She and my father were partners in a business. They talked about it a lot. As a matter of fact, I remember as a 12-year-old suddenly exploding at the dinner table: “Can’t you talk about something beside work? I’m so tired of hearing about your nursing homes!” My mother and father exchanged a look. And changed the subject.
Was she a perfect mom? Did she revere us children, put us first in her life? Did she bake cookies and never yell?
I do recall some cookie baking. And some yelling. And the occasional swat to the behind with a wooden spoon. She wasn’t perfect. But she was still great.
Her marriage came first. She and my dad had date nights (I remember disco lessons and bowling league). They were partners, and neither one of them ever chose one of us children over their partnership.
They were loving and stern disciplinarians. We had boundaries; we learned to toe the line. We had mealtimes, and bedtimes, and curfews, and chores. We had structure. It’s something I am striving to provide for my own children.
My mom took care of us. She cooked meals — we ate as a family probably five times a week. She packed lunches, tended to us when we were sick, made sure we had clean clothes, read us bedtime stories (my dad read to us too). She took us to the beach and to the zoo and she made us laugh.
My mom did all the things that to my mind moms were supposed to do. And that includes having a strong, loving partnership with her husband, and pursuing a career. I’m not going to say she made it look easy. I remember frustration and silence in my house; I remember stress and tension. But it never looked so hard that I thought to myself, “There’s no way I can do that.”
My mom provided encouragement, both through her words and actions, and by example. At a time when many women were choosing college to get their MRS degrees, my mother pursued a career instead. She was probably the only woman to graduate from Duquesne School of Pharmacy in 1968. And, yeah, that’s where she met my father, but that’s not why she went. She went because she wanted to work. My parents didn’t get married until they were 25 years old.
My mom didn’t always approve of my choices — whether clothes or boys or the decision to pierce my lip (I was a college graduate by then; she couldn’t stop me). One of my mother’s catch phrases was “that’s not appropriate”. She worried about me, and the decisions I made. But she was always there; she never turned her back on me (we had a close call once; dad intervened).
She danced at my wedding. She was there when Gabriel died. She was there when my daughters were born. She’s still here, and that makes me a lucky woman, daughter, and mom.
She doesn’t interfere in my life, and she doesn’t offer a lot of advice. She says that we were perfect children; she also says she doesn’t remember struggling. I believe her. But she always listens to me, and she always assures me that it will be okay. And I believe her.
Besides, she is a perfect grandmother — or Nonna, as my girls call her.
I wouldn’t want it any other way. I wouldn’t want any other mom. I hope I do it half as well as she does.