Posts tagged ‘mothering’

Motherly Love

Until last spring when I accepted a job running a small environmental education non-profit, I was teaching anthropology at the local community college. I loved the job, and I can say that I was loved by my students. I went above and beyond to help students who needed it, allowed all voices to be heard, and met students where they were. My philosophy of teaching was not to tell the students what to think, but to teach in a way that made them think, wherever that led them.

I often wondered why I found relationships with students – which most definitely took on a motherly tone – so easy and rewarding compared to my relationship with C, which was difficult and frustrating. Clearly, I could distance myself from students in a way I couldn’t with C because he is my kid, and mother him I must, even in the darkest of days. I knew this in my head, but in my heart it hurt that I couldn’t enjoy C in the same way I could my students.

But maybe, I have since realized, that is not the point. Mothering, I suppose, is doing what needs to be done for your kiddo, whatever that may be. Much like my teaching philosophy, I think I just need to meet C wherever he is, give him what he needs from me, and not worry about what I think I need from him. Mothering C has never been typical in any way, and perhaps I should stop wanting that from him.

A group of students found their way into my life and filled that need for me. In that way, they have given me far more than I ever gave them. Last week, while a bunch of them were over for dinner, I was aglow in the noise and joy in the house. I found myself so ridiculously grateful that these kids were here, letting me feed them, sharing stories, laughing, playing games, and having a good time. Frankly, letting me mother them in a way I don’t really get to do with C. Giving me a glimpse into something different, and not with regret, but thankfulness that with these students, I can be the kind of mother C doesn’t let me be, doesn’t want me to be, and maybe doesn’t really need me to be.

December 17, 2018 at 4:10 pm 2 comments

I Yam What I Yam

     When I was growing up, I always wanted to move somewhere new. We lived in the same house from the time I was one year old until my parents moved to Arizona 35 years later. Bored with my small town, I fantasized about being the new girl in school just about every year when school started. I wanted to reinvent myself, become someone new, and change personalities like a chameleon changes its color.

     College, and subsequent multiple moves after marriage, afforded me that chance to morph into a new person. I could be in a place where I knew not a soul, and be whomever I wanted to be. Yet now, facing the possibility of yet another move, I wonder what this new place will bring. Should I become the ever-patient mother who befriends everyone and bakes fabulous gluten free/casein free cookies for all the neighbors? Should I turn into that Mom who knows everything about autism and is the resource for all the other moms? Should I be the cool Mom who always has kids running through the house because they all want to hang at our place?

     What I have found, however (and I won’t tell you how many moves it took me to figure this out, but I’m working on double digits here), is that wherever I go, the old me follows. I’m still the slightly frazzled, pretty tired, mostly good Mom who is trying (not always successfully) to do right by her kid, husband, and self. No new personalities that don’t really fit, no new ability to magically become June Cleaver (even though subconsciously she must be my ideal), and no new “cool factor” that I’ve never really possessed before.

     I’m just always me. Just me.

September 22, 2009 at 6:19 am 8 comments

I’m okay with it

     During C’s K year, we had a terrible year and had to pull C out of one school mid-year and start another. All of us were sick constantly, and C was the worst. Too much free time spent in the bathroom at school landed him with monthly bouts of diarrhea and one trip to the ER after a night of vomiting every 10-15 minutes for 8 hours straight. It was an awful year, and it couldn’t end soon enough.

     Part way through the year, I sought counsel from a therapist who didn’t do the usual, “And how does that make you feel?” Instead, it was more of a dialogue between us, with Barbe showing her understanding by saying, “Well of course you are depressed, who wouldn’t be?” I needed a break, I needed to focus on myself for awhile, and frankly, I needed some help. She proved the answer to all three of those things.

     One thing Barbe asked me to do was make a list of how I could get out of my current situation. What could I do to make it better? As I listened to her describe the exercise, my mind was swimming with possibilities. The list would be pages long, I thought. However, when I sat down to write it out, I only came up with three. The first, completely unreasonable, was “Write and publish a book, make a zillion dollars and hire a nanny.” It was completely unreasonable to me because I couldn’t imagine anyone else picking up C from school. How could I justify giving away precious hours in the day to someone else? I’m his Mom, and he needs me. And I need him.

     The second, which we’ve done, was “move back to family.” Back near willing and able grandparents has proven key in our escaping occasionally for brief respites. Ga and Pa take C to therapy appointments sometimes, and have him spend the night every once in awhile. It’s never enough (could they just move in???), and they do have busy lives of their own, but every little bit helps.

     The third and most powerful idea has been the one that dances through my mind continuously. I have been on various paths through accepting what is while not giving up on helping C be the best and happiest C he can be. I’ve never thought accepting meant giving in or giving up, but I’ve come to a better peace and understanding about what is since writing the answers to that question. The last answer to the question of how to get out of my situation? “Get okay with being in.”

September 30, 2008 at 5:36 am 6 comments


It’s all autism, all the time.

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