My Mother, My Friend
My mom and I have a relationship that has always been very different than the relationships my friends had with their moms growing up. I was cared for by my stay-at-home dad, which in the late 70’s and 80’s was a very strange thing, especially in rural Pennsylvania. At the time, I looked at that arrangement in terms of my mom’s career as a doctor, the breadwinner, the caretaker of our entire community as the small town doctor. I was certainly hurt many times when she could not attend Mother-Daughter Banquets or come to softball games, but at the same time, I was unbelievably proud of her. I knew even from a young age that to go from a farm, raised by a father with an 8th grade education and a mother who worked in a textiles factory, to medical school – especially in 1970 – was a huge accomplishment. It somehow mitigated the disappointment I had in her schedule and the times she was away from us.
It was not until I became a mother myself that I realized her life as a doctor was far less about a financial responsibility to her family and far more about a choice. She chose to work full time, returning when I was just four weeks old, because a life at home with two small children did not appeal to her. I remember her sitting with me on the floor with my infant daughter while I stacked blocks over and over again, watching Emma knock them down, when my mom said to me inquisitively, “How do you do this all day?” It’s not as though my mom could not care for my brother and me or even for my children. In fact, it’s the opposite. Watching her with my children from the moment they were born showed me her love and level of comfort with all of us. What she was not made to be, however, was a stay at home mom. Knowing that her time away from us during my childhood actually made her a better mom, a more whole person, made me understand and appreciate her choices even more.
Now that my mom has also embraced the role of grandmother four times over, I am enjoying watching her change and interact with her grandchildren in a very different way than she cared for me. Her free time is no longer eaten up by shuttling us from one thing to the next and instead can be devoted to playing board games with my kids for hours. Her concern about family finances doesn’t apply, so she picks up little treats for my kids for no reason whatsoever, a luxury she never would have extended to us. And there is something magical about seeing how relaxed she is with my kids knowing that at the end of the day, the buck stops with me and she can go home.
Listening to stories from my friends, I know that I am so blessed to have the relationship that I have with my mom as her daughter, the friendship that I have with her as a fellow mom, and the admiration I have for her as a grandmother. It is all a girl could hope for and more, and I pray that someday my daughter will feel the same way about me.
Here is a picture of my mom as a baby with her grandmothers and below it, me and my daughter.