Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What kind of mother do you want to be?

What are we thinking about right now, in early pregnancy was the umbrella question from Heather…

As the non birthing mom and lacking the focus on my own body changes/new sensations/etc, most of my thoughts- walking down the aisle of the grocery store, drifting off to sleep, driving to work- are all around what kind of mom do I want to be?

I think about my mother, I think about the “village” of women who raised me, I think about my friends around me who I’ve watched mother and I contemplate. Based on my observations and experiences, what are my own guiding principles of motherhood?
My observations are that some of the things that I’ve learned as a manager in a megacorp translate nicely- if only I was perfect at all of them.
1. Be present…not just in actual location, but in spirit. I think of all the times I felt truly loved as a child and can relate them all back to the person being focused on the moment- not the 5000 other things that were going on. Growing up, my mother wasn’t really around and when she was, she was on her bed with her nose buried in the paper or a book. In contrast, my early caregiver was a woman known dearly to me as Grandmama Vicky. I was with her from 8 am to sometimes 10 pm at night. Even though she sometimes had up to 8 other kids in her care (no including her own), she was always present- focusing her question and attention on the one that was in her arms at that moment.

2. You don’t have to tell them everything, i.e. shit does not have to roll down hill! My kids don’t need to hear about all the horrible details of my bad days at work- they have the rest of their lives to deal with the ills of the world. Its my job to protect them as much as possible and make sure they only have to deal with what might be considered age appropriate. I remember getting the sordid details of my mother’s divorce/marital difficulties around the age of 6 and wouldn’t wish the feelings I had- the helplessness, the feeling of responsibility, on anyone.

3. Unconditional love. I know this one is a cliché, but I grew up feeling that my mother’s love/acceptance of me was all based on the what have you done for me lately mentality. On many levels, I think of the lies I told to her either blatant or via omission and look for a root cause. Though my omissions/lies were never really related to anything most parents would have cared about, I never really knew what might throw me over the edge and into the unloved category. I want my kids to know that there is absolutely nothing they could do that would stop my love for them. Be open and honest with me and we can work through anything.

4. Be consistent. My boss has always said to me- as long as there are no surprises, we are good. I think this is probably the best guidance I have ever received- and so true in my own life experience as both an adult and a child. The aforementioned Grandmama Vicky had strict rules and expectations. They were consistent no matter who you were or what day it was. The structure and consistency made me feel safe and secure.
That’s all I have for now, but I’m sure I’ll add more to it as my contemplation progresses.


Heather said...

What a GREAT post!

How exciting to be thinking about such important things. I find your list beautiful. I think about these type of things a lot, working with parents, and I talk about these topics a lot, especially with parents.

If you'd like to explore this topic further but think you've questioned yourself to death, consider this angle.

What characteristics to you hope to see in your child[ren] when they grow up?

Then ask yourself how you'd establish and foster those characteristics. Great thoughts though. Thanks for sharing!

N said...

A great post indeed.

Anonymous said...

This was so lovely and written so well. You said so eloquently all the things I want to try to remember if given the chance to parent a child.