How one woman's mother taught her the secrets to motherhood.
My oldest child just entered her teen years, which leaves me feeling like I've crossed the bridge to the beginning of letting go—where my influence will continue to diminish and my seat will move higher and higher in the stands and further from the playing field, where I have always been the coach.
But the secrets we teach our children, about how to play their best game, stay long after they've left the field.
My mom did not have an average or textbook childhood. And though there were many good things, there was also a lot that was hard. And the early years of motherhood were hard, too.
She was a very young mom in a new country with a husband who worked two jobs to feed and house us. She had to do a lot on her own, and while raising us she shared a very important secret with me and my sister—probably without realizing it.
Take care of yourself, too.
My mom likes to do things her way. At her core she believes she deserves it. Mothers generally don't do this for themselves enough, and if they think it is for the benefit of their children, I will tell you that it is to their detriment.
My mother gave up dreams. She went without to give us more. Of course she did.
But when my mom didn't feel like parenting us, or getting up and helping us to get ready for school, she didn't. She was there if we needed her, but we learned we could do it on our own. And we were OK and no less loved.
She watched soap operas while we played downstairs. She didn't worry if our favourite shirts were clean. She stayed home while our dad took us tobogganing. She left room for us to learn how to do things on our own and she allowed our dad to take on a greater role than most of the other fathers in that time.
She also she drove me to every painful swimming lesson and sat with reddened cheeks as I screamed in terror at the edge of the pool. She showed up to every parent-teacher interview and concert. She made us our favourite foods whenever we requested them. She let us stay up late and watch TV in her room. And when we were sick, she let us sleep in her bed.
She loved us completely, but never at the cost of loving herself. For that I thank her. Mom, I hope you see what you have given us.
Louise Gleeson writes about parenting, family life and marriage. She is a regular contributor to various parenting and lifestyle publications. She lives with her husband, four children and puppy on the west side of Toronto and blogs about their gloriously chaotic life at Late Night Plays.