When Mother Is A Best Friend
Think about your relationship with your mother. How do you view her? Is she your best friend and ally? I think when children are young they do not fully appreciate the concept of motherhood.
One of my most treasured moments is the day that I became a mother. There was something in that event that made life come full circle for me. Without any words being exchanged, I became a part of a sisterhood that included not only my mother, but my grandmother and great-grandmother as well.
The moment you see your first offspring, you change. While you loved your husband enough to marry him, the oneness was not complete until you became parents. Part of the heavenly plan is that it takes a man and woman to create another human being. It is also like that throughout the animal kingdom. That baby is part of both of you. The 23 pairs of chromosomes are contributed by mother and father.
I had two children. I was no less excited to see my second child. We were fortunate to have both a boy and a girl. My relationship with each child is different because each child is different. I respect that fact. Each of them is part of me and part of their father.
Motherhood was good for me. Although the first child is a challenge, you are much more relaxed with the second one. You have been there before. You have made those hard decisions and the baby survived. Maybe I enjoyed the baby stage of the second child more because I was more confident of my skills as a mother.
Life was so different back then. In education, you were not allowed to be in a classroom past your fifth month of pregnancy. I cleared that just fine because of summer vacation. It was my choice to give up my teaching position in favor of motherhood. How I enjoyed those early years when I could just be a mother. I realized at that point what my mother gave up. She worked when I was born, so she did not stay home with me. I spent the day at my grandparents’ home, mostly with grandma. After my dad left us, we became a three-generation family. We moved in with Grandma and Grandpa.
It was difficult to balance the demands made on me by my mother and grandmother. Mother would give me directions before she left for work, but grandma often changed them. Since I was with grandma, I gave in and did what she asked, explaining to my mother after work why I did not follow her directions.
It was not until years later that my mother and I became friends. I knew that I could share anything with her and I did. In her later years she moved over near the farm to be closer to me. That was another sacrifice she made without a word of complaint. By the time she moved here, my grandmother and grandfather were gone. I do not think she would have moved here while her parents were alive. She did leave her sister behind. They were very close so I am sure that hurt her and my aunt, too.
I recently read a poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning in a book I purchased from a book club. Although I believe it was written about romantic love, I think it applies in many ways about the love of motherhood. I share it here so that you are able to see for yourselves.
“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints – I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life. And, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.”
My own mother has now been gone more than 17 years. I still miss her. While she was here, we talked every day. As I look back on our life together I understand her sacrifices so much better with the perspective of motherhood and also grandparenthood. She gave and gave for all of us without a complaint. She loved each of us unconditionally. Her love never ended, even when we did something that displeased her. Although she may not have liked what we did, she still loved us.
For all of you mothers out there – I urge you to extend that unconditional love to your children. I know by experience that the concept of “mother love” comes back full circle. Whatever stage you are in, enjoy it. No matter how old the children get, they still need you, at least for moral support.
My greatest joy happens when I give to others. My children have each received love and support in their endeavors. Now they are parents so they understand.
The time to be best friends is not in the formative years. When your children are young you must be the leader, the disciplinarian, the enforcer and the teacher. There will be time to be best friends – later.
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.