Thursday, May 2, 2013

Motherhood Through the Prism of Grandmothering

photo of: "Children and Gardens Reflect the Care they are Given" Parenting Insight at RainbowsWithinReach
Click on the image to learn how I was motivated to create it: When the Unthinkable Happens in your Village

MOTHERHOOD. The best, hardest job on the planet.
The month of May. Forever synonymous with Mother’s Day in my heart and mind. Today I join a phenomenal group of ‘mommy bloggers’ as we reflect together over these up-coming days on motherhood. Sloppy kisses, the art of mothering, being a mom, sleep deprivation, unbridled joy, and having your heart live forever outside of your body, toddling past leaving muddy fingerprints on the wall and then abruptly asking for the car keys. These are the days of our lives.

photo of: Motherhood: Celebrating the Difference 22 Blogger Moms Unite
Click the button to see who contributes when! 
The majority of my mommy blogger friends are just that: moms in heavy-active-duty right now. With children underfoot in various stages of growth and need, they are also shedding light into their day-to-day living through the lens of these cyber screens. I bow in awe at their capability: technologically and entrepreneurially. Their apparent ease at juggling astounds me. We are connected by this new fangled notion of sharing via blog. We share a common denominator in that we love children. We share a common thread in that we know both hope and heartbreak mangled together over a breakfast table shared with the littles, where crying over spilled milk is an all ‘too real’ possibility for someone at the table. They are up to their ears right now in answering the profound and original questions that only children can formulate. I am blessed to witness that amazing naivety and insight all over again through a new prism.

photo of: Little Debbie Laughs in Black and White Era of the 50s
Me on a quilt with well loved bear and big striped brother! 

I am a grand-mother. I have a unique perch within the mommy-blogger community. Everything about technology is a foreign language to me. There is absolutely nothing that is intuitive for me about this ever-increasing cyber world of ours. I come from the land of black and white. B&W photos. B&W TV sets. Literally. Before color was invented. My childhood was one of box-play and fort-making. Plain and simple. I was somehow brought home from the hospital without a five point harness on a car seat? How was that even thinkable? Held in my mother’s arms and ambulating at multiple miles per hour. Yet here I am. 

photo of: Black and White Family Photo Adventures
That's me, in ruffle second from the left on cross country adventure

There were four of us, siblings that bounced across country to see cousins when wearing a seat belt wasn’t an issue – we didn’t have them. What an adventure!  Emerging from my Conestoga wagon era to share thoughts on mothering? While I never shared space with the dinosaurs, at times it feels that way. Moms. Some things have changed. Some remain constant. Skinned knees are still healed most efficiently in mom’s loving embrace – whether she totes the latest iPhone or spoke to an operator sharing a party line.

photo of: Four Generations of Women
My Great Grandmother, Grandmother, Mommy and Moi

Moms. All weather. All terrain. All knowing. All generations. We ache when our children ache. We wrestle with homework not our own. We attempt to juggle it all. I’ve never experienced blogging as a young mom. I can not even begin to imagine the implied pressure of having your act together sufficiently to share it with the I remember all too well days of wondering how I’d get my own teeth brushed, let alone anyone else’s. How on earth with the advent of perfect Pinterest pictures and Martha Stewart scripted birthday parties can mommies wipe yet one more raw, wittle nose in a house turned upside down by a toddler and feel adequate? SAHM: stay-at-home-mom? BAHM: blog-at-home-mom? Rankles some, upsets others. Who does she think she is? That sentiment goes back more than a few decades. Leaving-it-to-Beaver-mommy-in-pearls as home-maker extra-ordinaire. The pressure goes back in time. Reality TV? Is there such a thing as reality-blog? I know I work hard to edit and crop and present the very best of every situation. In this age of digital photography that’s a possibility. Take 482 pictures and one is bound to have everyone smiling in synchronicity. Another bounty of this era.

This is a unique chapter for women. Our foremothers fought for a life outside the home. Today's era brings questioning and clashing from the 'have-it-all mentality.' Our professions, our creativity, our ability to create commerce and our children. How does that puzzle get built? How do we stay whole with so many splinters and possibilities vying for our attention? Today it may not be so much keeping up with the Joneses as it is a relentless keeping up with the Janes. How does she do it all? Pandora's box. Blogging is yet another notch in the day's expectations. Don't get me started on social media. Where does the parenting fit in? 

photo of: Four Generations of Family Fun at RainbowsWithinReach

I am also, in this moment, a link within a four generation clan. My mothering today is still informed directly from my mommy. A luxury one can not buy. A gift bestowed by heaven. My richest treasure. I get to see her pleasure in interactions as she marvels over the coo and sigh of GREAT grandchildren. The beat goes on. My mother is a poet, a weaver-of-words. A sorcerer mixing syllables to perfection.  She is the keeper of the family tree. Genealogy-guru.  Our link to the distant past while I race into the future. 

She taught me to sew. Out of necessity and thrift she made my wardrobe as a child. I pieced together my picture book illustrations, conjuring quilts for pictures from my mother's direct influence. What fun to have Little Red in my lap, channeling my own internal memories. Generations stitched together. I wear my granny glasses. She watches intently. Memories are made in the process. We quilt our lives together much in the same way. One piece at a time. 

photo of: Granny Glasses and Little Red Spend the Day Sewing

What thoughts, what insight from this vantage point? It’s true. Everything you’ve ever heard about savoring the moment. It’s true. The seemingly endless rainy days of establishing sleep patterns and toilet training really do give way to the bright sunny glare of science fair projects and prom dates. Time marches on. Savor that bathtub-splashing, bubble-blowing, pixie-dust and just-one-more-story before bed phase, because all too soon it evaporates and you’re left wondering where that innocence has toddled. Ephemeral is the smell of baby powder and in its wake is the latest dime store cologne as you agonize over reasonable curfew restrictions and helping your wee wonder gain an ever widening sense of responsibility, up against ever larger pitfalls for poor choices. Lay the foundation now. Delight in the moment at hand. Don't over-think tomorrow. Do your best today. Savor. Enjoy. Sands in the hourglass and all that. 

My grandmotherly insight? Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. You’re doing your best. Each and every day. Each and every day that d-r-a-g-s on f-o-r-e-v-e-r from the monotony of continually picking up after that tornado of energy, the vortex that knows no limits -- when all you really want to do is take a long steamy shower without wondering what’s happening in the next room. Whether that means a bowl of cereal for dinner or the dreaded drive through – give yourself a break. My favorite bumper sticker? "When all else fails, lower your expectations." 

photo of: Reading Across the Generations at RainbowsWithinReach

Worry less about the ‘stuff’ available to your child and offer yourself instead. The basics. Choose less, when everyone is marketing more. Rocks that splash into water.  Books with pages that turn. Hugs. Blocks. Crayons. Singing together. Banging on the pots and pans. Listening. Calm is always in style. Green is optimal. Fresh air is the new black. Healthy is always foundational. Forgiveness is critical. Forgive yourself. Know that we are each making, doing, being the best that we know how in our mothering adventure. When in doubt tell your child ‘no’ and mean it. Setting boundaries is old school. Old school always wins out. “Because I said so” is as time honored as ‘a stitch in time.’ Do unto others remains the golden rule. My ‘go-to’ was always, “Because that’s what they taught me in mom school.” When my daughters heard that, they knew I wasn’t going to back down. My mythical ‘mom-school’ friends were there to back me up. Trump cards always win.

photo of: GeeGee and her WonderPeeps

Oh and laugh! Laughter is indeed the best medicine. All the wisest know its value. It’s in the Bible after all. Laughter goes way back. Gotta believe that cave moms laughed when they’d come home from a hard day's toil and find drawings on the wall. You betcha. If you’re having one of ‘those’ days, if you’re ready to tear your hair out wondering how you became responsible for these shenanigan-making humans, see if by some magic wand you can conjure yourself into imagining that you might one day be a grandmother looking back offering encouragement…. and laugh some more. Laugh out loud. Laugh long and hard. Make them wonder what’s so funny. Laugh until your sides hurt and the tears fall. Then give yourself a hug. Rinse and repeat. You’ll have another chance to invent the wheel together tomorrow. Today. Relish. Make it your mantra. Count eyelashes when you’re impatient. Listen to them sleep and marvel that one day they will be out in the great big world on their own, prepared with their childhood as the north star to guide them. What memories can you build together today? For their internal scrapbook and yours? Play in the weeds. Celebrate this heartbeat. It vanishes as you blink and only the memory and photograph remain. 

photo of: Child's Innocence with Queen Anne's Lace

I once heard Dr. Jean Feldman say, “In our efforts to give children the things we never had, let us also remember to give them what we did have.” Laughter is possible on every budget. It was available in our black and white era, it is available now at no extra charge. It is a response to every circumstance with choice. Make happy children. We need more. It takes a village. Trust your gut. Just do it. Breathe. Seek balance. Crop and edit to your heart's content. I’m proud of you. 

Mom. This one's for you. I celebrate all that you are and all that you sacrificed on my behalf. The sleepless nights. The worry. The fact that you are always there, cheering and lending your encouragement has allowed me to blossom, to overcome obstacles and setbacks, to sneer in the face of cancer, and flourish in spite of it all. There are mothers without their daughters and daughters without their mothers. The fact that we still have each other as we each continue to mature, is the very definition of joy. 

photo of: "Things I Learned in Mom School" Subway Art at RainbowsWithinReach (Mom encouragement from a Grandma)

"Everything I am I owe to my mother" with thanks to you Lincoln for the reminder. Happy Mother's Day. The photo of your WonderPeeps is in the mail. Honest! What do you give the woman who gave you life? A photo of her legacy. A keepsake reminder for her bookshelf when her heart is overflowing with memories wild, wooly and wonderful. I'm so happy to be your daughter.
I love you, mom. 

-- Debbie -- 
If you need resources for your classroom, I have plenty. 
Click on the picture for those ideas! 

Each blogger will share a parenting story on whatever topic of her choice. Stop by to laugh, cry and be encouraged in your parenting journey. We hope you walk away encouraged! Celebrating the differences of Motherhood is brought to you by our host, Inspired by Family, and by the following contributing blogs: Kids Activities Blog, Rainbows within Reach, Powerful Mothering, Fun-a-Day, The Pleasantest Thing, Royal Baloo, Laly Mom, True Aim Education, Kids Stuff World, Milk and Cuddles, The Imagination Laboratory, Smiling like Sunshine, Teach Beside Me, JDaniel 4’s Mom, Kitchen Counter Chronicle, My Nearest and Dearest, Nate and Rachel, Two-Daloo, Mamas Like Me, Mama Miss, One Mommy. Martys Musings and Mothering From Scratch.


  1. Debbie, this is so beautiful! What a wonderful reminder too. We are living in such a material world and it's difficult to not feel inadequate when you cannot buy the newest gadgets and all the bells and whistles. But kids never truly wanted to bells and whistles anyway, especially when the sacrifice is time with their parents :)

    1. Thanks so much for your kinds words of support, Erin. Bells and whistles get tarnished ever so quickly. Time is the very best gift of all. Here's to your feeling adequate each and every day!


  2. What a wonderful post, Debbie! I totally agree with you. The most common advice I give young moms (and homeschoolers, too) is that they don't need to be perfect ... just take the time to enjoy their families. :)

    1. Deb, I'm so grateful for your continued feedback and support. We are indeed on the same page and that's a great page to be. I can't wait till I get to welcome you to the club or grandmas!


  3. Thank you for this Debbie, exactly what I needed to hear and coming from you makes it all the more meaningful. You are a star in my eyes dear, a shining star.

  4. Well I'm with you as a Grandmom (a bit of a later era Grandma though I think)and I had just been thinking about those car seat and seatbelt less days. We would all pile into the back of the station wagons...remember?
    more innocent days without the relentless challenge of technology with our kids...we were all more present I think


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