What makes an excellent mother -- and do you know of someone who fits the description?
Judy Goldwyn, mother of two, grandmother of two:
I don’t think any woman faces motherhood without some mental picture of how she will be the perfect parent. I dreamed of baking apple pies (from scratch, of course) while my children played quietly nearby, enjoying each other’s company and laughing together merrily.
It didn’t take long after the birth of my first child to realize that there was no such scene in store for me. For one thing, I never had the energy to start rolling out pie dough until my children were well into their teens and out of the house for several hours each day. For another thing, although my children got along remarkably well for siblings, “playing quietly nearby” didn’t happen. Play was never compatible with quiet no matter what the game. So I trudged along through the pleasures and trials of motherhood, thinking I was doing a pretty good job. Of course, leave it to the children to point out that I often over-evaluated my performance.
An excellent mother, to me, is one whose every decision, every word, every thought is based on love. Gently delivered advice is given with care to maintain the child’s self esteem and phrases such as “because I said so” are never uttered. No matter how much I loved my children, I confess that some of my decisions were based on self-preservation. So there…I said it. I took myself out of the running as an excellent mother.
But, then there is my BFF, Linda. I met Linda when we were in our freshman year in college, well before either of us was a mother. She was a good friend, fun to be with, a nice human being. And, years later, she became an excellent mother.
Now, years later, with children in their 40’s, the proof is there. Although they live in different states, they stay in touch with her regularly, invite her to visit them often, and respond to her needs, both physical and emotional, with genuine caring and thoughtfulness. Both her children are accomplished professionals with families of their own, and they never fail to recognize her role in making them what they are today.
What, you might ask, is Linda’s secret of success? She confided her formula to me about 15 years ago: it’s humming. “When I want to say something that I know will be interpreted as interfering,” Linda said, “I hum to prevent myself from speaking.” Apparently it works. She listens and hums, sometimes to herself, and remains on excellent terms with her children and their spouses. Never the meddling mother-in-law, never the nagging grandmother, never the opinionated mother, Linda continues to hum her way to an excellent relationship with her grown children and their families.
Our children are young for a short time, but the seeds we plant grow into the relationship we will have forever. The ability to know when and how to say something is key, starting when they are old enough to have opinions…which is early in life. Give them respect and guidance in the perfect balance when they’re young and hum when they are adults. It’s not easy but, done correctly, Linda has proven to me over and over through the years that it’s worth the trouble.