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Who's your mommy?

Whatever kind of mother you may have, one day a year is not enough to show her how much you apprecia

Posted: May 9, 2008 6:26 p.m.
Updated: July 12, 2008 5:04 a.m.
 

According to the United States Census Bureau, there are about 83 million mothers. Webster's Dictionary defines the word "mother" as a "female parent who is a woman of authority, a woman who offers maternal tenderness or affection." The word "parent" is defined as "one who brings forth offspring and cares for another."

What kind of mom do you have? Does she navigate your household with tough love, or is she the epitome of a kind, gentle nurturer? Is she Annie Camden, Mrs. Cleaver, Marge Simpson, Mrs. Brady, or Mrs. Huxtable? Is she a CEO Mom or the Super Mom?

Is she kind-tempered or does she rule with a firm fist by teaching a lesson each and every time, realizing each of her children is different and requires individual attention? Does she instill ethics and teach the difference between right and wrong? Whether you're an adult or child, does she provide you with positive reinforcement? Does she know when it's important to listen and lend a shoulder for you to lean on? Is she a take-no-excuses mom who sets clear boundaries?

Is she a stay-at-home mom, a working mom or a step-mom? Is she a single mom who has the responsibility of being the head of the household, mother, and father?

Maybe you have a mom who abandoned you, a mom who died at childbirth or a mom who is so ill that you have to take care of her, instead of she taking care of you. Maybe your mom is elderly, your roles have reversed, and you now have become the parent, taking care of her. Maybe you never knew your mom and someone else has stepped into the role of mom to you, making sure they, too, are providing maternal tenderness or affection.

No matter what kind of mom you think you have, Mother's Day is a time for honoring and thanking our own mothers for giving us life, raising us and being a source of emotional support and love. The operative words here are "honor" and "thanks." However, just for the record, once again, I will share my disdain for a single holiday or single day of remembrance for what should take place on a daily basis.

Many of you will remember mom on Mother's Day by sending a card, flowers or taking your mom to breakfast or dinner. Mother's Day is the busiest day of the year for many restaurants. American retailers report that Mother's Day is the second highest gift-giving holiday in the United States.

What about the other 364 days of the year? What could you do to show your love and respect for your mom? 

* Does your mom long for hugs and kisses? Touch is an important part of the human bonding process. When you were born, you were placed in your  mom's arms or on her belly - the first bonding experience of your life. Yet, when we become teenagers and adults, we tend to physically push our moms away, not only ignoring their sage advice, but depriving them of those very important hugs and kisses. If your mom is a senior citizen, she especially longs for those hugs and kisses. Reach out and touch her, daily if you can. Touch soothes the human heart more than the spoken word ever can.
 
* Can she hear you now? Pick up the telephone and call on a regular basis. Your mom longs to hear about you, your thoughts, wants and needs, as well as life's little discoveries. She may also need the feeling of security that you're checking in on her from time to time. n Write her a love letter. Let her know the positive ways she has contributed to your life. Send her an interesting article or cartoon you found. The art of writing letters and sending cards is a lost art. Try sending that letter or card on a monthly or weekly basis. We all love to get personal mail.

* Ask her to share your family history. Have her write it down or record it so it can be passed on from one generation to another. 

* Take mom on a surprise trip. Mom often planned vacations and fun outings for you as a kid. Plan one for her as an adult. 

* Make sure, if your mom is a grandmother, that she connects with her grandchildren as often as possible. 

* Can you take your mom to a doctor or dentist appointment? She spent years providing for your medical needs. 

* Take old family pictures and place them in photo albums or take the time to update an old family album. 

* Take her out for a day of shopping, a pedicure, manicure or trip to the beauty salon. 

* Clean her house from time to time. How many times did she clean your room or wash your clothes, before you were expected to do that for yourself? 

* Treat her to her favorite homemade meal. You do the cooking. She has cooked for you long enough. 

* Forgive your mom. Let's face it, there are some of us who do not get along with our moms. Many of us carry around old hurts and resentments that need to be put away. We can best do this by forgiving and forgetting. Some of us have been battling so long we have forgotten what the fight was about in the first place. 

* Listen. You and she have been communicating for years, but have you really taken the time to listen to your mom. A dear friend of mine recently shared a conversation she had with her mom. Her mom said "I just want someone to listen to me - no judgments, no "how I can do it better," or "how I should have done it," just listen." 

* Memories - share your favorite memories of you and your mom. History plays a big part in growing up. When you are a teenager, you think "Who cares?" but as an adult, you know that the good memories your parent created for you will last a lifetime.

* Learn the art of appreciation. Many of us complain and moan about our moms. I have learned it is far easier to appreciate people for what they do, than what they don't do. Surely you can find something to appreciate about your mom, other than telling her on Mother's Day she is liked or loved.

These are just a few ways to recognize mom. Hopefully this list will stimulate you to think of your own ideas. However, I don't just want you to think about how to appreciate your mom, I want you to go out and do it.

While writing this column, a poem found it's way into my e-mail box. You may have seen it before. It has been circulating on the Internet for a couple years now. It was written anonymously:

"Mothers"

This is for the mothers who sat up all night with sick toddlers in their arms, wiping up barf laced with Oscar Mayer wieners and cherry Kool-Aid, saying, "It's okay honey, Mommy's here." Who sat in rocking chairs forhours on end, soothing crying babies who can't be comforted.

This is for all the mothers who show up at work with spit-up in their hair and milk stains on their blouses and diapers in their purse. For all the mothers who run carpools and make cookies and sew Halloween costumes. And all the mothers who don't.

This is for the mothers who gave birth to babies they'll never see. And the mothers who took those babies and gave them homes. This is for the mothers whose priceless art collections are hanging on their refrigerator doors.

And for all the mothers who froze their buns on metal bleachers at football or soccer games instead of watching from the warmth of their cars. And when their kids asked, "Did you see me, Mom?" they could say, "Of course, I wouldn't have missed it for the world," and mean it.

This is for all the mothers who yell at their kids in the grocery store and swat them in despair when they stomp their feet and scream for ice cream before dinner. And for all the mothers who count to 10 instead, but realize how child abuse happens.

This is for all the mothers who go hungry, so their children can eat. For all the mothers who read "Goodnight, Moon" twice a night for a year. And then read it again. "Just one more time."

This is for all the mothers who taught their children to tie their shoelaces before they started school. And for all the mothers who opted for Velcro instead. This is for all the mothers who teach their sons to cook and their daughters to sink a jump shot.

This is for every mother whose head turns automatically when a little voice calls "Mom?" in a crowd, even though they know their own offspring are at home - or even away at college or have their own families.

This is for all the mothers who sent their kids to school with stomach aches, assuring them they'd be just fine once they got there, only to get calls from the school nurse an hour later asking them to please pick them up right away.

This is for mothers whose children have gone astray, who can't find the words to reach them. For all the mothers who bite their lips until they bleed when their 14-year-olds dye their hair green.

For all the mothers of the victims of recent school shootings, and the mothers of those who did the shooting. For the mothers of the survivors, and the mothers who sat in front of their TVs in horror, hugging their child who just came home from school safely.

This is for all the mothers who taught their children to be peaceful, and now pray they come home safely from a war.

What makes a good mother anyway? Is it patience? Compassion? Broad hips? The ability to nurse a baby, cook dinner, and sew a button on a shirt, all at the same time? Or is it in her heart? Is it the ache you feel when you watch your son or daughter disappear down the street, walking to school alone for the very first time?

The jolt that takes you from sleep to dread, from bed to crib at 2 a.m. to put your hand on t+he back of a sleeping baby? The panic, years later, that comes again at 2 a.m. when you just want to hear their key in the door and know they are safe again in your home? Or the need to flee from wherever you are and hug your child when you hear news of a fire, a car accident, a child dying?

The emotions of motherhood are universal and so our thoughts are for young mothers stumbling through diaper changes and sleep deprivation. And for mature mothers learning to let go. For working mothers and stay-at-home mothers, single mothers and married mothers, mothers with money, mothers without.

This is for you all. For all of us... Hang in there.

In the end we can only do the best we can. Tell them every day that we love them. And pray and never stop being a mom... Please pass this along to all the Moms in your life. "Home is what catches you when you fall - and we all fall." Please pass this to a wonderful mother or mother figure you know. I just did!

Cary Quashen is a high-risk teen counselor, a certified addiction specialist, the founder and president of ACTION Parent & Teen Support Programs and the ACTION Family Counseling Centers. Quashen may be reached at (661) 713-3006. The ACTION Hotline number is 1-800-FOR-TEENs. ACTION Parent & Teen Support Group meetings are held at Saugus High School, Tuesday evenings at 7 p.m. in the Q Building on the west end of the campus. Saugus High School is located at 21900 Centurion Way in Saugus.

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