I called my mother last night. Something I generally do a few times a week, but have done less often in the last month or two. I just don’t feel like talking once I get the kids to bed. But I called her.
My mother was a good mom. I never ever ever doubted her love for me. Even when she told me, in so many words, that “she didn’t really like me right now”. As the oldest of 3, I think I carried a lot of responsibility. Some of it placed on me (mommy’s little helper, type things), and some of it just my internalization of my role in the family. My parents were somewhat free-range, pretty normal for the 70s. I had no actual needs that went unmet, but there also wasn’t lots of extra money, until I was in the middle of high school.
But my mom wanted each of her kids to have all our dreams come true. And if she could help us achieve them, she would. And I would say that is equally true today. As an adult, my mom has always been supportive of my choices (except the one that has me living too far from her to stop by for an afternoon .) She is a good friend. She is a great grandmother – if anything, her biggest fault as grandma is that she wants to bring the kids gifts every single time she sees them (more an issue for my siblings, who see her nearly weekly, than me). As we have all told her that we want the kids excited for grandma, not grandma’s presents. And she was able to hear that, and come empty handed more often. She has horrible arthritis in both knees, and I think her biggest regret, as a grandmother, is that she can’t keep up – walking, playing, etc. the way she wants to.
Am I as good a mom as my mom? Yes. But I am also a very different mom. I do not stay home full time with my kids, I have more money that she did at this point in child-rearing, I was 35 when my 1st was born, she was 29 when her 3rd was born. She often tells me I have more patience than she did. I don’t know how much is parenting style, or working with your child’s personality (instead of trying to dominate your child), etc.
But for me, as a mom, one of the most giving things my own mother does, is tell me, regularly, that I am a good mom. That my children are happy wonderful people, and that I deserve some credit for that. (Not all, the kids get much of the credit, but I get some.) That I so clearly enjoy parenting, and how wonderful that is, and how tragic had I not been able to live this life. She doesn’t tell me these things because I am a single mom. She is equally supportive of my married sister, and my sister-in-law, in their mothering (and my brother and brother-in-law in their fathering). She makes sure to tell us that we are good mothers because she knows how important it is to hear those things.
Lauren will tell me that I am a good mommy to her and Sara. And I just want to bottle it up, and pull it out on the days I dont’ feel like such a good mommy, or I’m too tired and want to use every cop out I can think of. But for the last 3+ years, my mother has been there, cheering me on, telling me I’m doing a good job, giving me permission to take care of ME when I need to, so that I can keep taking care of my kids. This is a gift I wish all of us could have.