Julie Seedorf: Celebrate your mother this week and always

Published 4:52 pm Sunday, May 13, 2018

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf


For me, there has been no career as satisfying and as frustrating as that of being a mother. This past Sunday was Mother’s Day.

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I don’t think I admitted out loud, until lately, the only thing I really wanted to be when I grew up was a mother. It didn’t seem to be the socially acceptable career in the late ’60s and early ’70s when the women’s movement was taking shape. We were supposed to want more rights to make us equal to men and want careers to make us feel fulfilled. Because of it, I think I kept quiet, feeling guilty that I didn’t have aspirations for bigger things than raising children.  I always was looking for the next job to get out of the one I was in, because I was looking for something to fill a curiosity or an emptiness I had about that part of my life. What I was looking for, I have come to realize late in my life, was what I had at home with my children.

I wasn’t always the best mother. I made many mistakes. There wasn’t a perfected handbook on how to be a mother except for Dr. Spock, and look at the criticism of his methods in today’s standards of raising children. It was hit and miss to know how to parent so my children would grow up to be the perfect citizens in the imperfect world. My parenting was by trial and error. Of course I could follow what my parents did, but I was young and wasn’t exactly on board with the spoiling my parents gave to me. I felt because I had a charmed and spoiled life I didn’t want adult life to be such a shock to my children. Maybe I expected more from them than I should have. I was lucky; I had a husband, grandparents, friends and a church community to help me raise my children.

The definition of family has changed in the years since I raised my kids. Divorce has changed families, and many mothers are single mothers. Some fathers have to be mother and father to their children. Distance makes it hard for extended families to help mothers raise their children. And economics make it harder to put food on the table, so not working, staying home and raising and nurturing children full time is not an option. Or the word “mom” might mean to you letting a child go to a better life because you gave it up for adoption or having a mom because of adoption.

Teachers and after-school activity people spend more time with the children than their parents. In many households, meals together and church attendance are sparse because of the circumstances of our world today.

Mother’s Day isn’t just about my kids honoring me, but it is also about me honoring my grandchildren’s mothers. We have had divorce in our family. On this Mother’s Day week, I want to give thanks and credit to my grandchildren’s mothers, Joan and Nichole. My grandkids are blessed to have mothers who work hard to put food on their table. They nurture and love and find time for the extra little things that make my grandchildren’s lives special. They provide safety and security as they are weaving the way through motherhood. They are teaching their children about respect, honor, love and acceptance. They put the needs of their children first as they co-parent with their ex-spouses, my sons. We are blessed to have had these two women in our family.

I miss my mother, especially on Mother’s Day. I can honestly say in the years I had my mother I never missed a Mother’s Day with her. Mother’s Day is hard for those who lost their moms and this year it will be a hard holiday for those who are spending the first Mother’s Day without their moms. There are also moms out there whose day has changed because they have lost a child. I hope the memories of past Mother’s Days will give them comfort.

My mom wasn’t always perfect; in fact, we had quite a few spats, but I now know it was because she wanted me to be the best I could be and to protect me from the hardships of life. I wasn’t always the best mother, but my motives were much the same as my mom’s.

If you find yourself estranged from your mom or you didn’t have the perfect mom, remember your moms are human and have human flaws, as do we all. Raising children in a changing, challenging world is difficult. It is a maze we maneuver, and there are no guarantees we won’t get lost. But underneath whatever your relationship is with your mom, the love is there. At times it may be hidden in the drama of your life together and you won’t see it, but life is a tangled web of emotions, kind of messy, never perfect but always evolving.

Celebrate your mother this week. She is uniquely yours, and without her you wouldn’t be here. Thank her for the gift of life.

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at hermionyvidaliabooks@gmail.com.