Month of Mothers: What My Mother Taught Me
What I learned from my mom…
“You and me against the world…” The first few lines from a popular 70’s tune made famous by Helen Reddy epitomizes my relationship with my mom. My first vivid memories are from childhood when I was around 3-4 years of age and it was just “You and me.” And that’s how it went…I was raised by a single mom; the proverbial latch-key kid. Although some might think ‘how unfortunate,’ I don’t think so! I learned a lot from my mom.
For starters, I had to learn to do a lot for myself because there was no one else! I learned to do laundry, I learned to cook, and I learned how to keep a neat and clean house! My friends would often ask me, “Did you miss not having a father?” My reply has been, “you can’t miss what you didn’t have…” As a result of learning to do so much for myself, I learned a sense of independence that has served me well. I learned to be capable and dependable. As a teenager, I remember teaching my best friend how to make tuna fish and scramble eggs! I am now teaching my kids; they are very proficient with grilled cheese, scrambled eggs, and easy mac!
My mom is also a great cook. So many of her dishes are still my favorites! As a young girl/teen, I had no interest. She tried to get me in the kitchen, but I had better things to do. It wasn’t until I was completely on my own that I wanted to learn! She had given me a Fannie Farmer cookbook and loaded it with handwritten recipes. I am so thankful for them! I now love to cook and love being in the kitchen. At times, I still call her to help me troubleshoot a culinary issue or question. I don’t get to do it often, but I love to cook for her or share new recipes I tried and get her honest opinion. We often agree on the level of seasoning. My kids think I’m a good cook and that’s what really matters! I remind them that Grandy is a good cook too and I learned it from her!
A Love of the Arts
My mother was so smart. She read a lot and was interested in so many different things. She loved astronomy, plants, nature, art, and music. She was a gifted pianist and lover of classical music. I grew up listening to her play Chopin, Beethoven, and others. I surprise myself now when I hear a classic such as Moonlight Sonata or the Raindrop prelude and identify the composer. I am grateful to my mom for that exposure! She spent a lot of time in the yard; planting trees and flowers too. We would be driving along and she would point out a flowering tree and say, “What a beautiful Dogwood.” I am now able to identify trees and flowers and know them by name. Consequently, I love working in the yard. I even find it therapeutic to pull weeds!
My mother also loved art. She dabbled in watercolors and took a few art classes. I always loved it when she would color in my coloring books! They were always so colorful and I was impressed that she could stay in the lines! Some of my best memories are going to art museums. I acquired her love for the Impressionists and we would seek out Impressionist exhibits from Philadelphia to New York. We never tired of seeing the great works. It makes me smile to see an impressionist piece now and know the artist.
My mom was an adventurer. We would hop in the car and just take off! I recall driving through the Great Cypress swamp and being impressed that my mom knew all the back roads. Between ages 11-12, my mom taught me to drive. She said that if anything ever happened to her, I would be able to get us somewhere for help. This was of course before the days of cell phones and 9-1-1! We would stop and pick wild flowers, get clippings from wild flowering trees which we would take home and try to root ourselves - often with success!
We took many trips to New York City by train. What a thrill as a young girl to go to the city. I thought my mom was so sophisticated as we went to Broadway shows and ate lunch at the Stage Deli – just a few of my favorite memories. As I grew, she would often comment if we were on the road or just doing something ordinary, “we are making memories…”
I don’t think I am that good at it. I often feel so overwhelmed with my parenting duties that I have trouble thinking that I am making memories for my kids. Maybe I am. I guess I will find out down the road.
Becoming A Mother Myself
I can remember vividly my first “mother moment.” I was in the hospital after having a C-section with my triplets. We were very fortunate to have gone to the well-baby nursery/postpartum unit. Even though they were 35 weeks gestation, none of them required any intensive care. One night, they moved all of the babies into an adjoining nursery next to my room, I could hear one baby cry inconsolably and it woke me and I knew it was one of my babies! I painfully got out of bed and ambled into that nursery and sure enough, it was mine! I brought her into my room, sat in the rocker and soothed her all the while sobbing because this fragile little person was my responsibility. In that moment, I realized my mom must have done the same thing for me. Oh, how I grew an immeasurable amount of love and appreciation for my mom in that moment! To think that she did the same for me!
My mom was such a huge help to me when my triplets came along. She and my in-laws helped around the clock. My mom, being a morning person, rescued me every morning at 5:30! I would sit in my big chair where I nursed my kids, invariably one of them would be up, and I would see her headlights pull into the drive and I would cry because it meant that I was off duty for a brief time and I was going to get to go to sleep! My mom was a champ! She managed them on her own, rocking, feeding, diapering, and singing to them! She even made up re-makes of old standards for each baby…how special. I am so grateful! She prides herself on being a “Grandy!”
But most of all, my mom was my champion. She always believed in me and was always so proud of my achievements. She encouraged me to seek out as many experiences as possible. She trusted me and I knew it. I knew that to violate that trust was a self-punishment that would not feel good. She was always anxious to hear about my adventures and still to this day never fails to express how proud she is of my career and my accomplishments. I never questioned her love. There were plenty of hugs and kisses and love notes!
If she had to leave before school, there was always a note. She had a special signature that she would use with a cute little face that she would draw. I now find myself leaving notes for my kids and adding other love “emojis.”
I hope my kids feel as loved as I did. I hope that I can be a “Grandy” someday, but most of all, I hope that I can enrich my children’s lives with as much love, exposure, independence, memories, and life experience.
Thank you mom for helping me to become who I am today….
Beebe is celebrating a “Month of Mothers” throughout May. Join the discussion on our blog and find resources, information, and stories about motherhood on our Women’s Health microsite at www.beebehealthcare.org/be-there. Follow along on Beebe Healthcare’s Facebook page and follow BeebeWomensHealth on Instagram.