I’m going to follow two of my friends today on the topic of Mother’s Day. One of my friends wrote beautifully about her mother and Mother’s Day in her latest blog (ivyandironstone.com). Another friend sent a copy of a recent New York Times article entitled “Our Mothers as We Never Saw Them.” I hope you’ll check it out. This is an interesting, thought-provoking article about our mothers as young women before motherhood. Haven’t we all marveled at youthful pictures of our young mothers, before we knew them. Did the person they were continue on throughout their lives? How did they change along the way?
One of my favorite pictures of my mother is this one of her in the 1930’s walking with several of her friends on the boardwalk in Atlantic City. She was in her early twenties then and all dressed up in a white linen suit, white heels (she always had a great sense of style), as were all her friends! I guess this is the way they did the boardwalk in the ’30’s! There they were, laughing and having a great time! All so full of youth and freedom!
My mother didn’t marry my father, the love of her life, until she was 27. She was 36 when I was born and both my parents had died by the time I was 28. So my memories of my parents are from long ago. I envy those who have had their parents into their middle age and beyond. I am blessed with a mother-in-law who has filled a lot of the void left by my early losses.
One of my favorite stories of my mother was from the day my son was born. She was at her office at the business my father had started. We called to tell her very early on that cold December morning that I was in labor. As I, her only child, was making her a grandmother, she told me she couldn’t concentrate and she was a wreck until she received word that both my son and I were doing well. She was in Pennsylvania and I was in New Jersey at the time. She came and stayed with us for about 10 days when we came home from the hospital. I felt that everything needed to be absolutely perfect and so the slightest thing made me jump up and clean or sterilize bottles, toys, anything that touched my child. My mother watched this for a few days and finally had had enough. She said, “If you don’t calm down and slow down, you will make everyone, including the baby, a nervous wreck. He’ll be just fine. Relax and enjoy him!” She was right and from then on, I tried to curtail the hysteria and recognize that I may not always be perfect but I would always do the best I can when it came to him .
Over my lifetime, I’ve learned from all the moms who have been close to me.
My grandmothers were the soul of my family. They taught me the traditions of my ethnicities – Italian and Slovak – that I cherish and in some ways pass down at least verbally to my son and grandchildren.
Most of the Italian dishes I make I’ve learned from, or have been enhanced by, what my mother in law teaches me. I marvel at the story of her as a war bride and the bigness and richness of her life, her sense of style, to this day.
My daughter in law is immersed in the full bloom of motherhood now with two children in elementary school. She is the most patient, loving and thoughtful mom I know.
Some of my friends are not mothers, but most are. Some have become second mothers to the children of others. Some like me have one child, others have as many as five. But one common thread runs though all of us: our children are our greatest accomplishment, that of which we are most proud, that part of our lives we cannot imagine being without.
Many of us are grandmothers, feeling this special euphoric joy that comes from our children’s children. I remember my mother talking about that kind of joy when she held my son. And I feel it every day with my grandchildren. So the beat goes on.
A few days after my mother died, a woman I did not know, called me. She had been a long-standing business associate of my mother’s. She said she just wanted me to know that my mother never stopped talking about my son and me. “She thought the world and all of you,” was how she put it. I never forgot that and have thought about it often in the intervening years during those times when I really missed or needed my mom.
Happy Mother’s Day to all who are blessed to be called “mom.”