This article originally appeared in much the same form on 10/10/2007.
Moms and dads are always telling me “What do you expect? I've received no training to be a parent!” Or, “I have no time to parent with my job responsibilities and all the housework!”
I certainly understand their words. But many of us did receive training—the preceptor being YOUR parents. I am sure some parents dropped the ball and left the child raising up to “the village”. If that is the case you are correct in that your parents let you down. But, as this short heartfelt tome points out, perhaps we all got more practical training than we thought.
This unsolicited communication came from one of my daughters. It was submitted to the National Public Radio Program “This I Believe”. Although it was never read on the air, I felt it deserved printing in The Informed Parent. It shows how subtle this training for parenthood is and, as parents, how your simplest actions convey strong messages to your children which they in turn may carry on. The future of the world depends on how well you teach your children on how to care for the planet’s most precious resource—CHILDREN.
THIS I BELIEVE
I believe in the power of mommy. I am one of thirteen children: I have six brothers and six sisters. My childhood was nothing short of controlled chaos. The front door was constantly open bringing in children with friends and neighbors. There were two or three loads of laundry every day. I can still remember the sound ”thump, thump, thump” of the hamper being pulled down the stairs on the way to the washer. Grandma could be found rocking a baby in the backyard singing a French lullaby. Mom never ever stopped. In fact the only times in my childhood that I saw her rest for literally ten minutes on the living room couch was when she was in her last trimester with the latest addition. And even then we the children would not hesitate to interrupt her to ask for yet another cookie. She has been described as a saint. She had the patience of Gandhi. And as her child I knew nothing else.
Now I am a mom of three boys. I knew that when I became a mom there was no other option than making that my full time career. I bake cookies. I play Batman and I go to the park almost daily. It is me who wipes my boys’ tears and celebrates their latest accomplishments. I am the one they run to after successfully climbing a tree or writing a letter correctly. I battle them for control. I lose my temper and come close to tears on some days. I am the one who listens to their daydreams and who tells yet another chapter of our ongoing “Tony and Joey” stories. Some days I couldn’t be less stimulated, missing the banter of adult interaction. I sit back and remember the highs and lows of my profession, the sense of accomplishment and the opportunity to learn from my mistakes. I miss the respect I was shown and the laughter I shared that had nothing to do with the potty humor of my seven-year-old.
When other moms hear that I am at home full time they say, “Gosh I just don’t have the patience for that”. Or, “I need more in life.” I smile and nod, realizing that they believe I am different from them. They actually think that I adore wiping bottoms and shoving squished bananas in a toddler’s mouth for a living.
My mom gave me her greatest gift; she gave me her presence every day of my life. Granted I had to compete with many others to get her attention but she was there in the kitchen, in the laundry room, in the car. She gave me the security that I would have a mom to talk to or sing with whenever I wanted. She lost her patience and probably came close to tears on some days. But my mom gave me the blueprint of mommyhood.