In my post ‘Mother’s Day – what does it mean to you?’, I referred to Psychologies.co.uk who informed us that although mothers can be grouped into five types, the “complete” mother is the one who possesses some qualities of all other types of mothers, being well-balanced and healthy and raising her children towards their own independence, even if she is not “perfect” herself.
I imagine that within the group of ‘complete’ mothers, there can be a lot of variation in how they actually ‘mother’, although they all reach the same end – healthy, independent children. Some “complete” mothers might have such a clean house that you could eat off their floors but others – well, you might stick to their floors at times. Some “complete” mothers might be organized down to the minute while others might run a bit late or miss the odd school meeting (or two). Some “complete” mothers might watch their children like a hawk on the playground while others might keep a watchful eye on them but let them swing from the top monkey bar because they know full well that, sooner or later, there is going to be a scratch (or even a broken bone). Still others might only appear to fly by the seat of their pants but, in reality, their children are well fed, do their homework, are happy, are respectful, and are tucked into bed at a good hour every night. Different styles - who cares, as long as their children are healthy, safe, and nurtured?
With Mother’s Day just a few days away, it is natural to think about what kind of mother you had and, maybe, what kind of mother you are. As children, we thought that our mothers were perfect and knew everything but as teenagers, some of us thought that our mothers were so out of date and knew nothing. It is not until adulthood that we acquire a better perspective of that person we call 'mom’ – we recognize that she was great in some ways but, realistically, fell short in others.
My own mother was a dichotomy of sorts. She was definitely not the fun friend, and she was certainly not the social type. She was strict with rules and discipline. In reality, she was anxious and worried. In some ways, she was needy and did not stand up for herself.
But she was resilient, so resilient. She could ‘make do’ with anything. She could manage money down to the cent. She tried to make ‘fun’ when we needed it. She tried to make us feel better when we were hurting. She took pride in how clean and well-behaved we were. She could make any house into a home. She forfeited herself and her pleasures so that we could have something. She truly wanted the best for us so that we could have what she did not. And she told me to be “brave”.
As we age and learn a bit more about our mothers (and ourselves), we come to understand why they were like they were.
It seems that so many of my age group's mothers came from an entirely different time or reality than what we can comprehend. My mother was born in the early 1920’s. She faced hardships of all manner – her own overbearing mother, her position as the forgotten middle child, loss of her father too early, an abusive marriage/divorce/single parenthood at a young age, having to work as a single parent, experiencing wars and depressions and recessions, immigrating to a foreign country from the green isles in the middle of our frigid winter, struggling with poverty while trying to raise children, adapting to a foreign farm life, moving our belongings from one rural setting to another every few years and, I might admit, having to raise a child (me) who challenged everything and always wanted more. She had reason to be anxious and worried.
Age and perspective give us understanding, for better or worse. Hard times made my mom resilient; hard times also made her vulnerable and yearning for more out of life.
So, my mother was not perfect. But, as a good mother, her strengths outshone her weaknesses. We were cared for. We were put first. We were safe. We were bright. We grew to be healthy, independent adults. We were truly her proudest achievements.
It takes all kinds to be a mother. It takes all kinds to be a “complete mother”. And the 'floor' is sometimes a bit sticky.
Happy Mother’s Day.