|Print | Back||September 25, 2013|
Raising the Rising GenerationLoving Our Mothers, Loving Ourselves
by Emily S. Jorgensen
One of the first thoughts I had after giving birth to my oldest child was, “How the @!#$*% did my mom do this six times?”
It seems that we can’t really understand our mothers as people until we become a parent too.
Today is my mother’s birthday. Let’s just say it is a significant milestone-type birthday, but I am not sure she would appreciate my sharing her exact age with the world.
As I think about her and the influence she has had on my life, I feel a mixture of feelings ranging from frustration and disappointment to reverence and gratitude, and above all, truly unconditional love.
If, like me, you believe we came to this Earth from a pre-Earth state, and that God has a plan for you, that you are not just a random conglomeration of DNA, then you have to accept that the mother you came to was not an accident.
If you are a parent with this worldview, you must also accept that the children who come to your home are also no accident.
I have mentioned before in this column that my mother and I are very different. Indeed, it took becoming a mother myself for me to see her sideways — as one sees their peers, rather than from below, as a child looks up to their parents. I think this was a two-way street. I don’t think she was quite ready to see me sideways either until I had enough life experience under my belt to understand the challenges she has faced in her life.
In celebration of her birthday, I have come up with a list of five qualities she has that I think would benefit all parents to cultivate.
She is a good listener. Even when my concerns were those of a drama-driven pre-teen, she always heard me out completely when I had something to say. She never interrupted me, but let me get it all out. I didn’t realize until later in life what a rare and fantastic skill this is. It is hard for me to bite my tongue and just listen when my children are taking for-eeevvv-errrr to say what they need to.
She has indomitable faith. Those who know my mother know she has faced more than her share of certain trials. For starters, she has been the victim in five car accidents. FIVE. Health issues are an ever present specter in her life. She has overcome many other hardships as well. There have been a few very low points in my life where I have thought, “My mother did what was right when she faced something even worse than this. I really don’t have the excuse not to do the same.”
She and my father have put service to others at the forefront of their priority to-do list. My parents are not well-to-do. They have never been able to write large checks to charity. However, their adult lives are peppered with a thousand small, but meaningful acts. Teaching institute, driving other peoples’ kids to and from early morning seminary for 18 years, toting the missionaries around, convincing a (rather stubborn) elderly widow to leave her home for somewhere safer during an ice storm, and hundreds of other little services that go along with being that couple that shows up to church every week in the same ward for 26 years. Personally, I sometimes complain when I feel swamped by all my other responsibilities and the Church asks me to do more. I have never heard my mother express this feeling.
She has never tried to tell me how to parent my own children. Really. Aren’t you jealous? She tells me she learned that from her mother. Man, I know I am going to have a hard time emulating that one. But, I hope that if I do a good enough job with my children now, I won’t feel like I have to keep parenting them when they are parents themselves. Hopefully this is how she feels, too.
She accepts everyone for who they are. Does that mean she condones their bad behavior? No, but she thinks the best of people and hopes the best for them. I have never heard her say a word of spite. This Christian attitude of loving others despite their failings is something I have tried hard to cultivate in my own children.
So, happy birthday, Mom.
Thanks for driving me to piano lessons nearly every week for 10 years. Thanks for not freaking out when I started talking about marrying my then-18-year-old boyfriend. Thanks for making me go to Young Women even when I had too much homework. Thanks for teaching me how to sew, even though it frustrated you that I ignored half of your advice about it. Thanks for not telling me to stop crying when I called you after my first week away at college.
Thanks for loving me even though I am so different from you.
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