As Mother’s Day approaches, I thought I would write a sentimental post about my own mother… and without a second’s thought, I knew what I wanted to write about; I ended up reminiscing about the best advice she ever gave me about mothering.
But it’s funny how life works out.
During my years in the psychotherapy field, I was captivated by the mother-infant relationship. I wanted to understand the tender dynamics between mother and child, not only to enlarge my work inside the session room, but as a way of understanding certain questions I had about myself. And like a powerful magnet, I was drawn to the works of those I considered to be sensitive and astute researchers and clinicians in the field.
I especially loved the “mirroring” concept of British Psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott, and I can actually remember feeling weak-kneed as my eyes read over the pages of Alice Miller’s acclaimed book, The Drama of a Gifted Child.
And there were so many of these powerful ideas that helped shape my own mothering experience years later, when I actually had children of my own.
But the truth is, probably the best practical advice I ever got about mothering came from my own mother, a woman who never stepped a foot inside a college classroom, and barely graduated from high school.
It was her sage advice that I chose to follow, and I’m thankful that I did. Because today I can see the transformative affect that her words have had on my life with my sons.
“The house will be there tomorrow,” she would say, “go spend time with the boys.”
That’s it. That was her consistent message to me.
And just like that, she made me step away from my neurotic, Type A worries about my messy kitchen and instead, offered me a window into the future. Her words jolted me. They were a ticking clock that reminded me that life would not always be like this and that time goes by way too fast when our children are small.
Her words simplified my list-of-things-to-do and they freed me from my guilt, because the reality is, I’ve never been the kind of mother who could maintain a shining, mess-free house. My home has always looked lived in; and when you have a busy life with kids, it's easy to compare yourself to other mothers, and to look around and wonder how they’re juggling it all. It’s too easy to wonder why their house looks so perfect and why their nails are always done.
My mom’s advice helped me stop my comparisons.
Her words offered me a source of comfort that wasn’t tied up in the perfection of my house or my life. Instead, her words brought me back to real life values. And the concept of Time.
Yes, there are moments that are too precious to miss.
And yes, when there’s a choice between having a beautiful, spotless home, or spending time with your child it’s a crystal-clear decision. Choose the quality time with your child. Choose the smudgy fingerprints on the walls because they come with laughing voices and running feet. And stop putting those darn dishes into the dishwasher if your child suddenly comes into the kitchen to share something about his day.
Because as a parent looking back at those treasured years today, I see the honest-to-goodness truth: when it comes to your kids, you’re either there or you’re not, it’s that simple.
So thank you Mom, for your wisdom. I have to admit, you were right.
And this message is for YOU and for all the mothers who have somehow found their way to my little post.
Because You deserve to....
Wishing you a day surrounded by those you love.
Happy Mother’s Day my friends,