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Category Archives: Parenting

To all the remarkable women who are mothers, or who deserve the respect and adulation that Mommies deserve, I wish you much compassion, wellness, and humor.  After all, that macaroni frame is not going to hang itself!

things our mothers taught us

With Mother’s Day approaching, I am getting so much mail about gifts to buy, how to celebrate, and things to do with Mom. As we are in the transitions with my mother and grandmother, I empathize with others that are unable to celebrate on this day.  Ultimately, through good and bad, no one loves you like your mother.

I come from a long line of very strong women; I have even given birth to a couple.  The stories and memories that we share of our lineage bring smiles, tears, and laughter – especially to others who don’t have to deal with all of the other baggage! But the inventive sense of humor, creativity, and independence that each lived gives us strength when we need it.  It reminds us that they have not really left us, but remain alive in our hearts and minds with each memory.

Men may be the hunters and gatherers, but it is the mothers who cut the crusts off the sandwiches and make sure that everyone has exactly the same number of cookies.  Mothers can spend 12 hours in the warzone with toddlers, but when Dad walks in, he gets all of the attention. Motherhood is not always fair, sometimes fierce, often fractured, but it is an elemental love so deep and strong, that we persevere.

My mother gave each of us the legacy of family through stories, journals and photographs that she has researched, collected and created for us to acknowledge and remember family members that we did not get to meet face-to-face.  She grew up without grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins and therefore worked very hard to make memories, create family occasions, and document them with pictures and souvenirs.  We grew up with developing fluid in our veins. We knew that if it happened, Mom had a photo of it.  We have had more “natural” posed photographs than some, but we knew it was, and still is, done with love.

The oral history that passes from mother to child brings our ancestors to life. It creates memories and journeys to share with our own children. It is a reminder that mothers will do what they have to do in order to care for their families, and others, in a world that does not always stop to notice.

My great grandparents had to move from one country in Europe to another in order to find work and financially support their growing family.  My great grandfather went ahead to seek work, while my great grandmother waited in another country with my grandmother and her brother.  She waited until my great grandfather was settled and he was ready for them to reunite.  Each European country was tied up in its own borders, paperwork and bureaucracy.  It might be necessary to move families, but they did not make it easy and did not want to take in immigrants to swell the ranks of the social services.  My great grandmother did not let one such border crossing officer utilize his power to keep her from entering the country and beginning a new life with her family.  She was told that the paperwork was not cleared and that she could not enter the country. So, like the clever, strong woman that she was, she told her children to sit down and wait at the crossing, with the nice border patrol, while she went to find her husband and clear up any misunderstanding with the necessary documentation.

My great grandmother was allowed to enter with her family and belongings.

My grandmother was very frugal, as was my grandfather, who carefully measured each portion and calculated every penny of their combined paychecks. In the 1950’s, my grandparents traveled to Europe, by ship, with my mother and her brother to see what was left of the lives that they had been forced to flee.  There simply was not enough disposable income for lavish meals after the expense of the tickets and the limited income they were careful to protect.  Grandma traveled with a large black purse, a seemingly bottomless trapezoid, which opened and closed with a clicking snap.  She carefully planned for their modest needs and traveled with cans of tuna.  At each restaurant where they were able to eat, the bread basket was placed on the table along with the cutlery and linens.  Each time that the waiter turned around, Grandma would swoop the entire contents of the bread basket into her large black purse, and pleasantly request more rolls.  The family dined on tuna sandwiches throughout their journey.

My mother, undaunted by her own strict and occasionally domineering mother, was unfazed at times when she sought independence.  As a teenager living in New York, my mother dreamed of cozy cottages and country climes.  She had seen a wooden rocking chair and wanted to purchase it for her room.  My grandmother felt it was unnecessary and impractical in their modest-sized apartment.  My mother was told that she could not get it. Those are fighting words for my mother.  She purchased that chair and brought it home, remarkably, on the New York subway system.  Through many incarnations, and paint colors, that rocking chair has traveled through several moves across the country and today sits in her home office.

My mother does things on her own timetable and doesn’t let the seemingly impossible stop her. Where I am punctual, my mother found the concept of time to be more fluid. If we were supposed to be somewhere in five minutes, that was enough time for her to put on nail polish before we headed into the car.

When I was a teenager, my family moved to New Orleans for a number of years. Mom and Dad had to acclimate to the weather, so hot and humid compared to our New England winters, and become accustomed to a brand new way of life.  Both of my parents worked and had to figure out how to maneuver in their new environment while trying to find their way around the city.  In the days before Mapquest, and the difficulty in driving in the city while holding a large paper map, it was necessary to remember the minimum number of routes to arrive at your destination. On one shopping excursion, my mother had missed her turn and did not know another way to get back to the Mall.  As I was a teenager, fresh from driving lessons and my license still warm, I told my mother that the sign said “No Left Turns.”  My mother’s steely reply:  “Wanna Bet?”

How can we turn out any other way than strong, determined, caring, and possessing a wit and absurd sense of humor?

We are teachers, doctors, cooks, and personal shoppers. We are chauffeurs, social planners, bankers, and the butt of jokes.  We are tired, despairing, frustrated, elated and proud. We can be examples or warnings.  We are mental health counselors on call 24 hours a day. But wherever we are, and wherever they are, we are forever Mothers.

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Thank you for stopping by! It means more than you know.  I miss you Mom.
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Look at the eye contact passing between mother and daughter before the tape even begins!!  Oooooooohh.

The Academy Awards ~ bright lights, expensive gowns, hair and makeup, and publicity. Lots of publicity!

Melanie Griffith grins at her daughter and tries to keep her comments brief.  Asked if she will see the movie, she says that she cannot and does not need to see it to know how special her daughter is as an actress.

Meanwhile, Dakota Johnson just keeps plugging away. “It is just a movie. You can see it. I am telling you that you can see it.”

Mom Melanie is biting her tongue so hard, she is pulling her own jaw tighter than all that plastic surgery.

No mother wants to watch her child have sex, let alone have to discuss it.  After 24 years of cleaning up vomit, seeing you through chicken pox and stitches, and the misery of adolescence, a mother wants peace.  Mom does not want to watch you naked, and handcuffed to a bed, writhing erotically and moaning, while some sociopath hurts you to feel like a man. You are just going to have to take my word for it.

Dakota just keeps going like the steaming locomotive that all adult children are, with a one track mind, ready to run you over.  But just in case, this adult child will run you over several more times just to make sure you are dead and she has won the argument.

Awkward.

Melanie Griffith is smiling at her daughter.  “Ok, sweetheart….I am so proud.”

Meanwhile, she is silently screaming in her head: 

WE ARE IN FRONT OF ONE BILLION PEOPLE IN OVER 100 COUNTRIES.  FOR THE LOVE OF G-D, STOP YOUR WHINING.  I WILL FIGHT WITH YOU LATER IN THE LIMOUSINE.

Big Smile to the interviewer.

Meanwhile, Dakota does not give up.  It is her constitutional right to keep badgering the point with her mother

~ and actually gives her mother the {eye roll} seen and heard around the world.

As a parent of a young adult, you observe some of the uncomfortable and painful posturing that goes on between other parents and their children, particularly in social conditions.  The adult child is over the age of 21 and demands to be heard, as well as having the last word, on any subject involving her.

As parents, what we really want is to simply end the fight with as few words as possible.  We want compromise, and if at all possible, a shred of dignity.

While we do not want to see anyone suffer, it is a comfort to know that other parents are struggling to navigate the huge minefield of emotions, hormones, and independence.

Then, you realize that even with all the advantages this child grew up with, sadly, the tentative relationship between mothers and daughters is something we each have to go through.  So, maybe, we are not doing so badly after all.

(I truly empathize with this mother because those of us with young adult, or adolescent children, have been in this messy verbal sparring before.  There is no black and white as a mother……..as we endeavour to try our best, it is ALL Shades of Gray!…..I will leave the masochism jokes to someone else).

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Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your visit and comments.

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“Be daring, be different, be impractical; be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.”

Sir Cecil Beaton, British photographer (1904-1980)

funky music band

Sometimes, you feel like a parade, even if only on the inside. Changing your view point, or finding the silly in the mundane, is critical to surviving the stress. Laughter, loud and long, is good for your heart and spirit, even though others want to silence you.

One of the fond memories of fun things I have done, as a Mom, was going as a chaperone with my daughter’s class to the Smithsonian museum of Art & History. Luckily, my daughter is one of those free spirited, highly responsible, fairy dust spreaders in the Universe. What made it so much fun? We spoke in a British accent the whole time. Silly? Absolutely. But, she was a child who played along so her friends thought it was funny too. Everyone chimed in if able – on the bus or in the museum.

There are so many wrong turns we can make as a human being in our many roles and responsibilities. Some people will never understand a slightly twisted sense of humor or a quirky way of looking at things. Everything is so very serious — until you finally need a laugh and some extra serotonin.

But as Dr. Seuss said:

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.

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Thanks for stopping by! I hope that you enjoy your visit.
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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “To Be Resolved.”
https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/to-be-resolved/

The resolution that I continue to seek is how to parent, and build a relationship with my adult children from a distance far away not to block their view, but let them see that I still keep a light on in the window.

When it comes to the relationship with our children, I don’t know that we ever reach “resolution” because we each change every day.  I am trying to respect the distance even if my experience with my parents was different.

Since this is a major goal in my life, and always was, I am reprinting this post from July 16, 2014.

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theempathyqueen

generations by gilad

I love you and you will always be my child. I have been trying to stretch and grow to accommodate your view of life, but I realize that I am uncomfortable at times. Perhaps, it is because I am out of my comfort zone trying to be inside of yours. When I raised you, I had hoped to give you good character and kindness. Given your origins, independence, intelligence, and strong opinions could not help but be part of your nature. Sometimes, those opinions hurt me. You know I am sensitive and I was an easy target. But, still, I love you.

You have chosen to live your life differently than I have chosen to live mine. I try to keep my door open to you whenever you want to walk through it. We have made, and continue to make, different choices. I did not want to choose sides. I…

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