Saturday, May 07, 2011

A Mother’s Day Tribute For The Mom by Maureen Eich VanWalleghan

My mom is a good sport. Years ago a friend said this to me when my mom was visiting me in NYC. It was a compliment, but at the time I didn’t really understand it’s significance. Overtime I started to see what my friend meant and now it is what I want to be for my own daughter.

I believe being a good sport is being able to not take yourself too seriously and also possessing enough confidence to step out of one’s comfort zone in all manner of things. My mom has been able to do that for me all of my adult life. I say adult life because at the point she became divorced she moved into the world independently and our relationship changed. Before her divorce she was tied inextricably in my mind to my father and so they were unit in much of their interaction with us kids, which was good and bad. It wasn’t till adulthood that my mom revealed things that she wished she had done differently, which made me see how complicated life is in a marriage. I was probably in my thirties when she told me that she regretted not getting me the princess bed and furniture I wanted when I was ten years old. With that revelation I saw her as someone who was not in control of everything in my childhood, but rather a person who was faced with the limitations of being married.

Since I left home at 18 years of age, which was when my parents got divorced, I think my mom made some personal decisions about what she wanted to do as a mother. We’ve never talked about this and I don’t even know if this was a conscious process, but my mother became a good sport and stepped out of her comfort zone for me so many times that at this point I take for granted how special she is. Of course all moms are special, just like all babies are beautiful. We are hardwired for this. So for Mother’s Day, I wanted to post as a gift to my mom, a reminder of all the things she has done for me and still continues to do with a love I now understand because I’m a mom.

My mom is not perfect. I don’t want to wallow in unabashed sentimentality here. Its not my style. And, I want to articulate the model of motherhood I am working to emulate in my own way. My mom did a lot of things right and somethings I would do differently. And yet, my mom is someone who consciously and consistently is working to improve herself and expand beyond her limitations. Right now she is reading a book by Jane Isay entitled Walking on Eggshells: Navigating the Delicate Relationship Between Adult Children and Parents. I read the book because I was hoping to improve our relationship. Since I have moved in closer proximity to her (i.e. I left NYC and moved to Arizona, where she has retired) I have found us fighting a lot with me hurting her feelings on a regular basis. We always make up; we are in a transition as she is getting older and I am now a mother. But here’s what so great. I read the book, I suggested she read the book and when she finishes we will talk about it and our relationship. I love that. We talk about how to connect better. That level of communication and direct input is what I am working to have with my daughter.

She is a champion for pursuing one’s dreams. She has encouraged and supported me in every endeavor I have pursued even when she “didn’t get it.” When I wanted to go to film school she absolutely helped make that work. My daughter was four years old and my mom’s support along with my husband turning into a full-time daddy, made it possible for me to spend four months living 75 miles away from home. I feel pretty lucky to have had that kind of support from my mom.

My mom has heard me more clearly than I usually give her credit for...she has gone places she would never go, to be with me and enjoy my company: Yosemite and New York City, just to name a few...

My mother is an active and engaging participant in the raising of my daughter. We really talk about what I want for my daughter. The most powerful thing my mom told me when I was a kid was that she wasn’t “my friend,” but my mother. I have taken that thought and explained to my daughter that a mom is beyond friendship. It is a bond that keeps us connected in everything. It is an invisible umbilical cord, that though cut physically, can never be truly severed.

Finally, the greatest gift that has happen for me with my mom is becoming a mother myself. I really understand her and finally get her motivations, controlling tendencies and lot of little idiosyncratic things she does: like calling me at 7:00am on Saturday mornings when I lived in New York City. This drove me crazy, because as one would imagine I was sleeping in after a long week of work. I would ask her not to call then. She did anyway. I finally asked her why she kept doing it. After eluding the question a few times she explained that if she called at night and I didn’t answer, she couldn’t sleep. She always knew where I would be on Saturday morning: in bed. I thought her quite silly until I had my own daughter. And then I wondered how my mom ever let me out of her sight.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom, you’re the best...


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