Archive | March, 2011

Would she hold me back or reel me in?

8 Mar

Would she be the mother I complain about or the one I thank for (even attempting to) rescuing me from some hardship. I’ve heard it all, even just this week. One friend’s mother simply makes her feel inept. She points out her flawed parenting skills. She, too loudly, wonders, “Why does she [her daughter] favor one child—can’t she see how she has created a child with low self-esteem?” And, then there’s the mother who sneaks in to help her daughter while her son-in-law is at work. “They have so little time to just be together as a family….they don’t need me around on Sunday, their only day together. I’ll get my fill while he is on a business trip.” Mothers can have such a hold on our lives—we can only hope it will be the hold that reels us in and enables us to find contentment.

I wonder what hold your mom has if she is still alive. And, if not, what part of your life would you have her hold? Would you be more likely to complain or thank her?



It’s in the genes

6 Mar

This is one of my favorite stories. Following Jewish tradition, we planned to name our next child, born after my mother died, after her. Her name was Phyllis so, not knowing the gender of our baby, we chose girl and boy names that started with the letter P. Additionally, I struggled to find a name with the PH, or fff sound. Yet, as we considered names, I could not find one that I liked for a girl. I did find a boy name that was perfect, Philip. Boy was I thrilled when Philip was born! I still wonder how that happened!  To add to this mysterious good fortune, Philip has many of my mom’s traits. I often think how strange it is that he sometimes acts like her, without having met her. Some of the more obvious examples have even caught the attention of family and good friends who knew my mom. My mother was and Philip is very particular about handling food in the most sanitary way. Neither Philip nor my mom would eat after anyone double-dipped at the dinner table or used their own fork when getting a portion of chicken or broccoli. He, like my mom, has a sharp sense of smell.  It’s not just food. Philip makes keen observations and is insightful. He often makes very wise comments or even analyses of people and conversations. He quickly determines which friends he can trust.

I wish I didn’t have to tell this story—that our children were named before their grandparents died. I am fascinated by these coincidences and the science behind inheriting a grandparent’s personality traits. It’s really like having a piece of my mom in my life!

I am sure many parents see these connections between their children and parents. I would love to hear stories about other similar, almost eerie coincidences.


The Race, Part B

3 Mar

A story I love to share illustrates just how proactive and fair my mother was. During a meeting to create my 9th grade schedule, my new guidance counselor looked at my name and said, “Oh, Susan’s sister. Well, let’s see…do you have the same kinds of grades your sister has (all A’s)? She then looked at my school record and said, “Oh, I guess not.” Really, she said that! I, a 14-year-old A and B student, was stunned and angry. So, I went home and told my mother about the conversation. She was livid! She immediately called the school and spoke with the highest ranked administrator and warned that I was never, ever to be compared to my sister again. She gave a short lecture on the importance of treating siblings as individuals. I was grateful—instead of being upset with me for not getting those straight A’s, she always allowed me to be myself. She helped me learn how to advocate for others and for myself.

My mom could have been featured in the film, The Race to Nowhere, as part of the solution. Even though she is not here to remind me, I try to mother my children with these principles.

I hope you find guidance from your mother. Which of her special philosophies or techniques inspire you and help you guide your children through school?


How did she stop the race? Part A

2 Mar

After seeing the very moving and thought-provoking film, Race to Nowhere, I am reminded of the many questions I’d love to ask my mother. One in particular is pressing. How did she ensure that I did not compare myself to my sister or other peers? How did she help me develop my individuality? I want to know the answers for historical and child-rearing reasons.

We all have memories of our childhood and adolescence, of what we were like growing up. But, how honest are our memories? I know I was a mostly happy, well-adjusted child, pre-teen and teen. I had many temper tantrums, but also spells of giggles. Yet,if asked, I think my mother would say that I was very difficult during my pre-teen and early teen years.  But, that is just supposition. That’s the problem, I can’t ask her…I’ll never know what she would say. I wonder if I would have this conversation with her if she was alive. Do you think about these questions and pursue the answers when you do have the opportunity?

I would like to think that my mom was at least, in part, to blame for ability to be an individual. I was enamored with trendy clothes and activities. I had tendencies to follow the crowd.  She kept me grounded.  While I cannot thank her now that I truly appreciate that, I can try to carry on her mothering goals. I will just have to use my own (or maybe inherited) techniques. Accepting yourself and being an individual in the crowd is so important. Perhaps we have to choose the most important messages we wish to convey to our children.  Do we, motherless mothers, know the message that was most important to our mothers? Do we know how to develop similar messages for our own children? And, can we see them to fruition, without our mom’s help?