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The sisterhood of Motherhood

by Robin Rieger
I am a good mother and that’s what I try to remind myself, especially if I am having a bad day. I think my kids agree that I am a good mom—unless I have shut off their Xbox, TV, iPhone or iPod to have them do homework or help around the house. And really, what kid wants to do that? At that moment, instead of cooperation, sometimes I will get huffs and puffs, even a “You want me to whhaaat?!?!” Sometimes no one responds which makes me think I often speak like Charlie Brown’s teacher with the “Wah Wah Wah Wah.”

Without support in coping with the ups and downs of motherhood, I think a lot of moms can end up focusing more on the negatives instead of the simple joys of being mom. It seems we might be striving to get it right all the time and that’s an unrealistic expectation.

I am so grateful for our kids. At nearly 13 and 10 they are good, loving, lovable, compassionate human beings whose behavior in and out of our home more often than not reflects the values Tom and I are trying to show them by our own examples. And friends and family help me stay positive with words of wisdom. With Mother’s Day upon us I asked some moms I know to weigh in with their thoughts on motherhood; what it means to them, any advice they’ve been given or would give others.

One friend wrote about her own mother’s philosophical approach to motherhood. “When my kids were babies and I’d ask her what to do or how to handle something, she’d say, ‘Whatever works for you and your baby.’ The point is she’s always stressed that every child is different and there is no one right way to do something.”

Another mom’s take: “My mother always responded with, ‘I am not your friend, I am your mother.’ I often thought about that statement and wondered why? Why couldn’t our mother be our friend, too? It was not until I became a mother myself did I begin to understand what she meant. What I wish she would have said is what I tell my boys, ‘I am your mother first, your friend second.’”

For another mom, friends and faith mean the world to her. “The only true methods which helped me in the last 11 years of being a mom of four is having good friends who can listen, laugh and cry with me, and having an awesome husband who listens to my silly gripes about too many diaper changes and lots of prayers. As far as the best advice I’ve received? ‘God had put you right where you need to be for your family.’”

A mom who is also a grandmom says: “You have to remember that children are a gift and that makes raising them much easier. They are yours forever. You have to let them do things on their own and experiment even though you might not completely agree.”

Knowing how busy life can be, another mom tries to live in the moment: “I have to keep reminding myself to stop, take time to play, laugh, sing, dance and love my children and family. I feel like it’s those simple, sweet times that we will look back on in life and smile. I wear a bracelet that has a bead that says, ‘Be here now.’”

This mom says motherhood taught her more about herself than any other life experience. “It’s called upon me to be committed to being the best person I can be for our two boys.”

“Always encourage your kids,” says a mom who reminds me how quickly time goes by. “I treasure time we get with the kids now that they are in their 20s. They are so busy, I always make sure to see them if only for an hour.”

Learning from mistakes gives another mom’s family a chance to be stronger. “No matter the challenges faced during the day, at the end of the day, I am just so thankful for my children. There isn’t a day that passes, that someone doesn’t bring a smile to my face or a twinkle to my eye.”

A lifelong friend’s greatest lesson “is that I don’t, nor will I ever, know everything. There is no perfect mom. There is only me trying my best every minute of every day, with what is in front of me at the time.”

Balance should be defined by you and only you, says another mom: “As a mom of two with a demanding full-time job with a heavy travel schedule, I learned to set my own guard rails. No one at work was going to tell me it was OK to take off early for a school event or that it was OK to push a meeting from Monday to Tuesday because traveling on a Sunday afternoon to get across the country was cutting into my family time. You have to draw your own line.”

A mom who appreciates the foundation she was able to give her kids by staying home when they were young and now works part time says, “The opportunities I have with them feel a bit fleeting as they are now 13, 10 and 7, but I try to take advantage of every moment I can, when I can. I absolutely love that I get to be their mom, no matter what.”

One friend’s sudden loss of her own mother makes her even more appreciative of the wonderful example set for her. “As a mom of three, I hope that I can be just as supportive and let them do what they love, not what I or their friends want them to do. I find this tough at times and respect my mom even more for her foresight.”

Many of us are grateful for our mother’s advice, myself included, since I have relied on my mom’s wisdom often and hope one day my kids and I will share a similar relationship as adults. I also appreciate my husband’s efforts as do many other moms who contributed. Recently something I felt I didn’t handle as well as I could have as a mom was bothering me. I asked Tom for his thoughts. He understood and described parenting as one of the hardest things we’ll do but said, “Tomorrow is a new day, you get to wake up and start over.” It’s the same philosophy we share with our kids but I wouldn’t give myself a break. He did and we fell back asleep. Did I mention it was 3 a.m.? At that hour, I appreciated his willingness to listen but couldn’t blame him at all if I sounded a little like “Wah Wah Wah Wah.”

Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 2 (May, 2016).
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