Archive for Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mothers shape our lives

May 9, 2012

Happy mothers’ day! Next Sunday is a day set aside to honor mothers and their role in shaping the youth of our nation.

I really have never written much about my mother since she died when I was 11 years old. Due to chronic illness she was very limited in what she could do. Yet, I remember her as a caring, loving red-haired woman who endured a lot of pain and suffering to do the best she could for her family.

She gave me a solid background in religion and in academics. But what I remember most was her courage – when my father got sick she carried on bravely with very limited resources. We lived very meagerly, but she made our house a home filled with love. I learned from her to never, never give up and to continue to work for the best.

I will never forget being called out of class and told she had passed away. At age 11, all I knew was she was gone and life would never be the same again and it never was. Being left to raise two children alone was a great challenge for my father, but he did the best he could.

You miss a lot growing up without a mother. I know that early in life I would have had better social skills, but fortunately I had opportunities to learn later in my youth. I will always be sorry that my mother didn’t live long enough to see my sister and I grow up, marry and have successful lives. I am really sorry she didn’t get to know her grandchildren.

The best example of mothering that I have seen is my wife, late mother-in-law and daughters. They are all great mothers who give and give to help their children succeed. Jean spent countless hours sewing clothes, making costumes, reading, teaching math and spelling, heading up scouting and school activities and supervising clothing purchases, etc. They certainly have followed in that tradition working with their children and making sure they have all of the opportunities available.

Jean says that the one thing she was sorry about was that she didn’t have the opportunity to teach our daughters more domestic skills. From a fairly young age the girls were at the newspaper offices working with me or playing softball or other sports. However she got a second chance since she has spent a lot of time passing on her culinary skills to married daughters. In fact, her grandsons refer to her as “grandmother, a.k.a. 'the cook.'”

Last weekend, one daughter spent all day on Saturday in 90 degree heat attending baseball games. All of my daughters have been major fans of their children’s activities. I wonder how many of thousands of miles they have driven to practices, classes and games. Good mothers give up their time and pleasure to help their children grow and be successful. I will tell you this: it is worth the time and hard work. There is no greater reward than raising a child who becomes a successful adult.

Mothers have it a lot tougher than in the “good old days.” If you recall the perfect mother image was June Cleaver of “Leave It To Beaver.” She didn’t work outside the home and her role was to maintain a perfect household.

That has all changed since the major inflation of the 1970’s when it required more than one salary to maintain a household. Today’s moms are professional women who work 40 hours per week then come home to face a myriad of duties ranging from cooking and cleaning to getting children to events. Yes, the role of men has changed, too. Most are more involved with family duties than in the old days. Today’s family is a very busy unit.

I applaud the modern mother who juggles jobs and household duties. But let me add that the “stay at home” mom is equally busy and challenged often taking on many volunteer leadership roles. Yes, being a mom is a huge task.

In doing a bit of research I found that the ancient Greeks and Romans had festivals to honor motherhood. The Greeks celebrated the “mother goddess Juno and the Romans honored Cybele.

Leaders in adopting a Sunday to honor mothers were Julia Ward Howe who started a movement in 1870 and later, Anna M. Jarvis who lobbied congress to start the celebration. Her efforts paid off when President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation setting the observance in 1916.

In England, they observe “mothering Sunday” in March. There are similar observances throughout the world.

I know, there are those who complain about the commercialism of the day, but that doesn’t really concern me. Whether you give your mother a gift or not is irrelevant to me. It is important that you recognize your mother and thank her for all that she has done for you. Please have a very meaningful and happy Mothers’ Day!

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