Motherhood 101

Motherhood 101

From Chicken Soup for Every Mom's Soul

Motherhood 101

At a recent neighborhood get-together, I was easily the oldest female there. Every other woman had young kids who were racing around, playing, laughing, occasionally generating shrill sounds that made their mothers cringe with embarrassment. One mom ordered her son to settle down, then quickly apologized. I assured her that he was just being a normal kid and that I was actually enjoying all the commotion. She didn’t buy it. I said that children grow up way too fast, and suddenly they are gone. I explained that my husband and I had an empty nest: Our “baby” is twenty-seven, our oldest is thirty-one.

She asked, and I told her a little about my job and a lot about my four children. I shared that all four of our fledglings had tested their wings and moved to other parts of the country, that it was really hard to have them so far away, but that it made us feel good to know they were happily living in places that they had chosen for school, career or other unique opportunities. Fortunately, we manage to see all of them, plus our granddaughters, about three times a year.

I asked my neighbor how she spends her days. Almost apologetically, she stated that before she had children, she had an exciting professional career that kept her traveling all over North America, but that she was now a full-time homemaker, a “domestic engineer.” She acknowledged that some days were tiring and monotonous, but stressed that it was mostly challenging and fun. She “couldn’t imagine” not being home with her kids every day. I told her that I couldn’t think of anything more important than raising a family. She seemed relieved that I didn’t judge her negatively for being a stay-at-home mom. The truth is that I envied her immensely.

I had to fight off guilt over having had “latch-key kids.” In fact, I felt like crying. Sometimes I miss our children terribly, and I’d give anything to recapture those wasted hours I spent working late in the office or those hours I spent in class instead of being at home with them.

That night I phoned “my baby.” My voice cracked the second I heard him say hello. “Mom! What’s the matter?” he asked.

“Nothing, honey,” I lied. “I just miss you, I guess.”

“I miss you, too, Mom,” David answered, “but something else is going on. What’s the matter?”

“I’m being silly,” I confessed. “It’s just that I saw all these young kids next door, and I wanted to tell you how sorry I am that I wasn’t there when you got home from school every day. I’m sorry that I was gone at night sometimes too, when I had classes. I’d give anything to do it all over again and spend more time with you guys.”

“Darn it, Mom. We never felt neglected! Quality of time is what counts. Some of my best memories are stuff we did together, even just sitting around talking. I can’t think of any better mom I could have had, working or not! Never feel guilty! You did exactly what you needed to do.”

Dave certainly let me have it. How glad I am that my kids feel comfortable enough to chew me out when I deserve it! I felt a million times better after we hung up. Dave’s scolding would have been enough, but he obviously called his sister. Three days later, I received a priceless gift from Alyson in the mail. It was a typed paper that read:

Just a few of the wonderful things my mom taught me . . .

Support your kids’ dreams, even if that means they
move away

Rescue baby birds and squirrels

Love hearts, Ziggy, and teddy bears

Sing aloud, dance for joy, laugh with delight, smile


Learn to play music

Value fairness, kindness, honesty, and equality

Keep things in perspective

Surprise your kids with notes in their lunch boxes

Appreciate the simple things and know what really

Believe in yourself

You can achieve anything, no matter what the

Help others less fortunate

Make pancakes in funny shapes

Grow and learn

Take family walks in the moonlight

Be sentimental

Drop everything to race outside and see a sunset

Be strong and independent

Look for the good in people and circumstances

Never feel guilty

Teach by example

Work to make a difference

Root for the underdog


Siblings can be your best friends

Be loyal

Be silly

Take care of yourself

Be healthy

Treasure friends

Don’t give up easily on commitments you make

Stay up late at night to talk with your kids even if
you are tired

Feel lucky buying groceries

Stop to watch flocks

Cherish life—it is precious

Thank God for everything you have

Count and recount your blessings

Hug and say I love you a lot to the people you love

Put your family first

WOW! Did I teach my kids all that?

Karen L. Waldman with Alyson Powers

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