Sunday, July 23, 2006

Mothering.

Reading Genevieve's blog has made me think.

I have been haunted a bit by her post.

What is it that we want our children to remember? How will they think of us as mothers - what will they think of their childhood?

What type of mother do I want to be - and what type of mother am I?

I admit to having visions, visions dancing in my head, of the mythical, perfect mother .

She is calm. She is gentle. She is smiling. She is nurturing.

Well, my children usually get the smiling mum. But the other attributes ?

In my dreams, the mother I want to be is a bit like Ma in the Little House series of books. Cooking. Baking. Loving. Always present. Fair.

The reality of my mothering traces a different path.

I love my children and I have fun. But I get overly enthusiastic - definitely not calm and placid. I like to be busy. I like pop/punk/rock/hip hop music.

Is my energetic nature not nurturing enough?

And let us not go down the cooking and baking path. Although I *am into light sabre fights and basketball.

I try. I strive. But my mothering never meets my standards.

I like some things I do and some of my mothering - but I never am quite there, never quite there at my mothering vision.

Scott Hahn offers me words of encouragement in his book "Lord Have Mercy". He writes of spiritual growth and I think his words apply to my growth as a mother.

"Let's face it: Spiritual growth, like physical conditioning, doesn't come easy. We'd all like to shed our sinful habits overnight, just as I'd be pleased to drop twenty pounds by tomorrow morning or triple my muscular strength by next week. But changes in character are, like changes in our bodies, rarely discernible from week to week or month to month. Only over the course of years or decades do we notice a difference. We need to have a regimen, and we need to stick with it over the long haul."

23 comments:

Cindy said...

Lovely post, Leonie.

I think it relates to the motto I have adopted this summer (your idea.. to have a theme for a year...) and it is to be authentic.

Your boys see the real you- your passions, your talents, your love, your service -- the real you.

I think you are very nurturing, because you share your life with them and you are interested in their lives and help them when they need you. That is a great definition of nurturing!

I, too, have friends that are so gentle... so kind and never seem to raise their voice. I think of them as "Mary-like". I wonder if I should be more like that?

I have worked on it a bit and found that it is a good thing to think about, but came across a line where I knew I also needed to give them the real me (the good parts that is..) the things I really enjoy.

I have asked my boys if they think I am a weird mom.. I mean how many other moms enjoy getting up at the crack of dawn to walk someone else's dogs? They will agree I am, but I know they are glad I am me.

Just as I know your boys are glad that you are you.. with all your passions.

Wow.. this got long! Must have been on my mind, too.

Enjoy your passions and your boys!

Cindy said...

Hi again-

After I posted this comment I went and read Genevivie's original post.

What that made me want to add was the part where she talked about edifiying herself and growing in faith. I think that is key. Like Ross Campbell says in How to reall love your teen... parents have to keep their emotional tanks full to be able to give to their kids.

Though we are not perfect at it every day, it is something to work for. Then we can give them us. :)

Sorry to be filling up your comments with such long posts..

This may have inspired a post on my blog soon, too.

Leonie said...

Cindy, thank you so much for your comments - never too long - I welcome feedback. Helps me sort out things, you know? And I just love to discuss. :-)

Can't wait to see how/if Genevieve's original blog entry inspires an entry on your blog..

I think that being a parent can be difficult, esp if one has the tendency to question things . For example, my dh's father once said that being a parent was easy - he just did what his parents had done. That is not an option for Gerry and me. IYKWIM?

I think the Mary connection is where I fall down - I am not really Mary like. :-(

Discussed this with J and A this weekend and they both agreed that I was a mostly upbeat mostly smiling mostly happy mum. And this they appreciated. They also said I could always be trusted to give an honest ( if brutal) opinion - not just a mum opinion of work/attitudes etc. And they valued that.

So maybe I need to value the different way I mother - while still striving for the best?

Hoping we can continue the discussion...

Fr. Benedict M. said...

Leonie, I want you to read this article entitled "The World Needs a Mother's Tender Loving Care". the link is http://www.livingwatercommunity.com/virgin/world_needs_a_mothers_tender_lov.htm

I think you will see that the "Mary connection" is quite present in your own motherhood. May Mary our Mother continue to intercede for you!

Fr. Benedict M. said...

http://www.livingwatercommunity.com/virgin/world_needs_a_mothers_tender_lov.htm

Fr. Benedict M. said...

sorry, the link doesn't want to paste!!! maybe Satan's work there. I'll email it to you!!!

Leonie said...

Thanks Fr - I'll be off for a read!

Leonie said...

Wow. Good article.

When I became catholic I will admit that understanding the role of Mary was a big thing for me. Gerry couldn't understand that - he was brought up Catholic and accepted veneration of Our Lady.

Finally, I thought that, if the church is the pillar and foundation of truth ( as it says in the Bible) and then if the church encourages devition to Mary then who was I to question? :-)

Over the the 12/13 years of my Catholicism I have come to see Mary and her role differently .

And I really liked parts of the article mentioned above.

"You may find a mother who is very devoted to her children and who attends to all the cuts and bruises they receive from the stones in the yard, and that is indeed admirable. But I am sure, dearly beloved, you will all agree that far better is the mother who, if at all possible, has the stones removed from the yard so that the children will not get cut and bruised.

I am calling then on all our teachers to be truly apostolic. You cannot be truly catholic unless you are also apostolic. It is not for mothers that Mary is called Queen of apostles. She conceived Jesus for the benefit of mankind. The virgin motherhood of Mary was an apostolic event.

I am calling on all our Catholic teachers to be true apostles with the children entrusted to their care, that they will not only instruct these precious little ones academically, but also show them how to pray, how to keep close to Jesus and how to love their companions in a truly Christ-like way."

Ladybugs said...

Leonie,

When I read that you thought that you were not "Mary-like" I thought...oh, yes you are...because of HOW you love!

Truthfully, I see a little of myself in you - I like the loud, rockish, hip-hop, jammin' music that beats a joyful life into the house! I have found with my family, that joy is the ingredient that really brings us together.

Anyway, Leonie, fwiw, I do think you are Mary-like. She knew her Son and you know your sons.....and the list goes on.

Love,
Maria

Ladybugs said...

Can you post the article or a link to the article that Father sent?

Leonie said...

Maria,

Perhaps we are soul mates. :-)

I think it depends on what we see are Mary-like qualities - and perhaps mine geet coloured by some perceptions of others?

the world needs a mother's tender love

Cindy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Cindy said...

I think there are many of us who are questioning how to mother... and I think it is good. It keeps me from just getting into a rut.. saying things like 'because I said so!" and soforth, though I have said that, I'm sure, in the past 16 years. :)

Mary is the perfect model for us. But I have had to think and reconcile how her virtues can be reconciled with the personality God gave me.

Thinking about the movie Passion of Christ- the Mary portrayed there was strong- loving- passionate- I remember the scence when she was joking around with Jesus when he was a bit older. And of course the scene where he fell as a little boy and she comforted him.

To me the Mary-like question was more about understanding my own spirituality and accepting myself and my gifts and how I could best nuture my boys.

As I began to homeschoolyears ago and was put in the company of Catholic homeschoolers, I met some truly lovely moms. Some seemed so "Mary like"- quiet and calm- always gentle. I remember thinking... I am so much not like them. I wondered if I was doing this all wrong.

It took a long time for me to accept them and their gifts as they were (and the really beautiful ones accepted me and didn't try to change me!)- and also accepted my gifts.

One thing I have seen as I have met moms irl and on line, is the varitey of personalities and temperments. I spent a lot of time this past year reading about personalities and temperments, mostly to better understand my boys, but it also gave me perspective on my husband, extended family and friends. I never really understood before that people are wired differently- not only in how they react to things but how they *percieve* them. Can all these temperments make good, Mary like moms?

A couple of good friends of mine are introverts.. and facinating people. Talking with and knowing them has helped me understand those facets in those close to me in my family. And those small strands of introversion I have in myself. I also understand better my extoversion and all the other facets of personality.

I think the crux of this for me was to understand that all personalities are *valid*. God created us all differently. I was learning this at first in context of my children. Seeing them as God made them and (in my search to be a better and more nurturing mom) to help give them what they need and not what I think they need because that may be what I would need in that situation.

(ex: I would think they needed lots of group activitie because i needed them, or friends' children needed them.. but mine *didn't*)

But, as an offshoot, I have begun to look at the moms I know in a new light. Every mom has something unique to offer her children. If God made us unique (as we know and say he made our children unique), then we should embrace it! He didn't want cookie-cutter moms. I agree with Maria.. that you are very Mary like (so is Maria!)- in that you love your children. But love them in your way.

A friend of mine gave me a crucifix that has Jesus on the cross and Mary standing next to him, holding him and supporting him. How we hold, love and nurture our children is to me, uniquie for each of us and our personalities and our dynamics with our children.
That gives me great strength and hope.


With one son, I am usually more quiet. I listen because he is quiet. And when he speaks, it is always worth hearing. If I am talking, he will stop.

The other son.. talks all the time.. interupts me and always has some banter! So we banter! He needs that.

I think that each of us, if we are growing in our interior life and really listening to God, can use the gifts and personalities we have to nurture our kids in our own way. I have found, though, that if I am not trying to grow, then my personality can take over and my exhuberence can turn to harshness. I stop listening. I am focused on me. That is the red flag in my mind - that I need to seek humility again.

But, I think even the most gregarious of us can still be humble, listening, tuned in and loving. A smile, a joke or a suggestion to go rollerblading may be just what the dc needed at that moment.

Sometimes raising my dc I have wondered why God gave me a specific challenge. There have been areas I have felt totally unequipped for. But then, I have found that this particular area had my dc teach *me* something--about love, acceptance and other areas that may have come as second nature to other women. But I had to learn.

I know I made lots of mistakes, but that is why children are resilient. As long as we learn from the mistakes. And when the times are right, we can admits and apologize and they learn from that, too.

Thinking about other moms I know... I realize how lacking I am in many areas. I think about moms that are experts in science and nature, math, canning/freezing, history, home repair..etc etc, etc.

But God gave my boys to me for a reason. This has been a real journey for me, too, Leonie.. which is why this post is so long.. but over the years I have a real sense of peace that I am on the right course. That course being trying to understand myself and nurture my spiritual life and marriage. Then share the 'authentic' me with my boys.

Then, listen to them and learn about how they percieve things, so I can best help them become who they are meant to be. I have also found that this is far more imporatant than aceademics, because when we can talk and they trust me, I learn more about them.

I learn what they know-- and they are open to my ideas. Just today while walking our dogs during a dog sit, we had a very enlightening converesation on how people learn. This is something I have pondered for a while, and the boys were open to hear. That is how we usually talk about faith as well.

I think every mom has a bounty to offer her kids. I also think that many time these moms are stymied. They think they should do it a certian way, don't measure up, or try and pretend to be something they are not. (this is from experience and knowing others and their challenges).

I guess that is why my motto this year has become 'authenticity'. With teens it is especially important, but I think all kids can pick up on that.

I don't usually watch Lifetime TV, but saw part of a movie about a troubled teen girl and her mom. The girl went to a counsellor and told her that her mom does not listen to her. She talks *at* her.

To me, the friends I have who are Mary-like to me are the ones who seem to really care about me, accept me and listen to me. If we are doing that for our kids, then I think we are doing well.

Whether we are roller-blading, doing kickboxing, singing, dog-sitting or making jam... as long as we are tuned in and keeping Christ first in our lives.

Today I made my first cherry pie (with crust from scrtach) per request of my boys. I am out of the box. :)

(oh.. the guys just tried it and said it is great... happy mom...)

10:01 AM

Leonie said...

Cindy, I will always listen to you because you are wise. :-)Love our exchanges over the years - and I know Luke enjoyed takling with you when he visited.

I think you are right about both acceptance and questioning being parts of the mothering equation. We can accept who we are but also question our choices and our responses. Prayer is a given of course. :-)

As you know, I have this big fear of complacency - so I dont want to be a complacent mother. I liked your comment on humiltity - ties in with complacency for me.

Maybe one of my mottoes for next year will be something like - no complacency more humility?

Thanks friends for all your comments!

meredith said...

Wow, Leonie, what a wonderful exression of who you are for your kids. I wish I would have had a mom like you :) I also am striving for an "ideal", that may or may not be attainable. Through the grace of God is my hope, and of course His BVM. What a great read. Thanks so much for sharing.

Fr. Benedict M. said...

I have been enjoying the various comments about Our Lady and motherhood, and in particular about Mary's role in the motherhood of each and every one of you. The article I sent is good, but there are many other Vatican documents which may also help to understand the role of Our Lady in the family and as a role model for motherhood, among them are : Redemptoris Mater 45, 46; Mulieris Dignitatem 17-22; Christifideles Laici 51; Familiaris Consortio 61; these can all be found on the Vatican webpage. In the words of Pope Benedict XVI at the World Meeting of Families in Valencia :we turn to the Virgin Mary, like the many families which invoke her in the privacy of their homes, so that she will be present to them with maternal concern. Through the intercession of Mary, open your homes and your hearts to Christ, so that he will be your strength and your joy, and help you to live in harmony and to proclaim before the world the invincible power of true love.

Leonie said...

Hey, Meredith, your bwords made me smile. :-)

And Fr - can you please stop recommending things for me to read - when will I find the time? lol!

Cindy said...

Fr. Benedict-

Thank you so much for your comments and your reading suggestions. Leonie, you are so fortunate to have Fr. near you and thanks for inviting him online for us to know.

I am a convert, too, Father, and I am slowly understanding the role of Mary. Growing up Protestant, she was just not a part of my life or faith- we only really saw her in chruch at Christmas in the nativity.

I am slowly finding her heart- and the crucifix I mentioned my friend gave me has been such a visual reminder. Also, when I was at a point with one of my dc years ago when I didn't know where to turn, I turned to her. And she was there.

Oh, this got long again. But God Bless you and thank you for your words.

Fr. Benedict M. said...

Thank you for your kind words Cindy. It is interesting you mention that cross. It is in fact from the Cross that Our Lord gave His Mother to each and every one of us. Let us take this role of looking after Her seriously and with love. God bless.

Cindy said...

Leonie-

A last follow up to this topic...

I was out to dinner with my good friend who I consider to be very Marylike in the ways we have been discussing- gentle, kind, etc.

BTW, I know she is not perfect... (as she really I knows I am not.)

I described to her our conversation here, especially about how moms seem so much more Mary like- what about moms who have a stonger personality, more electic interests,etc?

She just looked at me and said, to her all we need to be Marylike is to do God's will.

I think she said it all. :)
Beautiful.

Leonie said...

Great comment, Cindy.

But my problem is not always being sure of God's wil. :-)

Leonie said...

THAT should be will - I am a terrible typist and an even more terrible proof reader!

Cindy said...

I know, Leonie. AFter I typed that I hoped it didn't sound trite.. like "just figure out God's will! Simple!" :)

But, what I liked was the implication that God's will may not neccesarily be our personality or passions, but seeking him to guide us. And that guidance can be manifested in who we are in Him, and not how others around us may manifest it.

Clear as mud? lol