Monday, May 01, 2006

Mother May I

My mom has given me lots of things over the years: nice blue eyes, the ability to read really fast, a gorgeous wedding gown that I never would’ve shelled out for on my own, Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends when I got sick on vacation at age 8, at least 75% of my children’s wardrobes, and so much more.

But one of the things I’m most grateful for is my ability to be comfortable in my own (mostly unpimpled and unwrinkled, thanks for that too Mom) skin. I wasn’t particularly laid-back as a child, but I’ve become so as an adult. I’ve just learned that worrying is a waste of time, and what mom has extra time lying around to waste? Neither my mom nor I are fretful mothers, hovering over our offspring just waiting for an accident to happen, spinning out worst-case scenarios in our heads. My son may have the bruises to prove it, but at least he is a happy, self-confident explorer. I’d rather he fall down a few (hundred) times than never even try to conquer a flight of stairs or scale the side of the bath (he may be only two feet tall, but he can hike his bitty little leg all the way up to the edge of the tub, ‘cause he wants to get in that bad).

My mom blazed a trail for me. She had a job and a career at a time when so many other mothers didn’t. And in spite of a strong dose of judgment and tsk-tsking, she and my dad raised three happy, successful children. Now that I’m the one with little kids, I don’t feel like I have to ask permission to do what I do. Mother may I work “outside the home”? Mother may I send my kids to day care? Mother may I serve chicken nuggets for dinner once in awhile? Sure. Fine. Yes. Everything will be fine. What better role model could I want than my own mom? (And besides, I learned a lot of important working-mom lessons from her: Outsource the stuff that’s not worth your time. Teach kids to help around the house early. Hire good caregivers. Order pizza a lot.)

What’s more, I know she’d support me if I decided to stay home full-time with the kids instead. This despite the large amount of dough she and my dad put up for my Ivy League education. They both have doctorates. Their three children have more tattoos (4) than advanced degrees (1) among us, and that one is my brother’s master of fine arts … not exactly an MD. And they couldn’t be more proud of us all.

I hope my own confidence isn’t misplaced, and that I never am so cocky as to think I have this mothering thing down pat—I most certainly know I have plenty more to learn, and always will. But I’ll try my best to give both of my children the gift I’ve received from their grandmother: the ability to know myself, and to like myself both because of, and in spite of, what I know.

Originally posted at Binkytown as part of the Blog Exchange.

Edited to enter in the
Parent Bloggers Network Mother's Day 2009 Blog Blast, in support of the 2nd annual Celebrity Hand-Me-Down Charity Auction to benefit Johnson's® NO MORE TEARS® Clean Water initiative.

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