Friday, October 17, 2008

A Village of Good Moms

I am the proud Mom of a 9-year old daughter. I have longed to write a blog about my experiences with parenting. I want to share my observations and challenges about daughters with fellow parents, and open up a dialogue to share ideas with each other. This first blog is a little about me and my Momness. I want this blog to be a Village of Good Moms (and dads!).
"You are a good mom."

A few weeks after my StepMom told me the above statement, I still find myself contemplating it.

I do believe that I am a good Mom...I just wonder HOW I got to be one. I certainly did not learn it at my own birth mother's hands. For that is how I think of her - the woman who gave birth to me. She was too young and selfish to know how to "mother."

I was lucky enough to live on my Grandparent's farm and be raised with my aunts and uncle until the age of 10. My Grandma, Lillian, who I referred to as "Mom" just like her children did, loved me completely and unconditionally...and she still does.

After we moved off of the farm, I started my own search for loving mother figures. I was fortunate to find three different adopted moms, who nurtured me and loved me through the difficult teen years. I found them at the church that I belonged to, and they gave me what I was longing for at home. They spent time with me and made me feel special. They fit my image of what I thought a mother should be. When I remember this time and these special giving women, I think of the following quote:

"One hundred years from now, it will not matter what my bank account was, how big my house was, or what kind of car I drove. But the world may be a little better, because I was important in the life of a child."

Each of these women, were so important to me as a child. Research has shown that every child needs and should have a caring adult in their lives. It doesn't have to be a biological parent or relative...just someone who treats them as if they are the most important person in the world. Really, these women probably saved my life...or at the very least, made it so much better. Their influence continues on in my life today.

When I look at my daughter, I know that I would be crushed if she had to seek out other caring adults for love. I would question myself to find out how was I failing her. I would examine why she felt the need to look for mothering from someone else. With my birth mother, I think that she probably experienced a sense of relief that I was off her hands during those times away with my adopted "moms." As an adult, I try to take the high road and say, "She did the best that she could." My child's heart still whispers, "That's not good enough."

When I was pregnant with Hannah, I knew what kind of Mom that I wanted to be to her. I just wondered if I would be able to give her the love, affection and attention that I had wanted to receive as a child from my birth mother. My experience with my Grandma and my adopted Moms gave me the internal tools to be able to give these things to my own daughter.

And, my Hannah. She is so so loved. I love her so completely and so deeply that my heart breaks sometimes. But even aside from that, she has so many caring adults who love her and support her and make her feel special. We have a village of family and friends in which she thrives. In addition, Hannah has been fortunate at school to get not only the most academically talented teachers each year, but also the ones that I would also call the best Mom figures, too. Thank you, Kelli, Cindy, Sari and Laurie - for being kind and special to her and to our family.

As for my own "village," I have surrounded myself with an abundance of GREAT MOM friends. As a "motherless daughter" - how I refer to myself these days - I am so blessed to have a network of friends who I can call on for any child advice that I might need. Diane, Ellie, Peggy, Sari, LeAnn, Tammy - some relatives and some friends - are my support group, my touchstones, my rocks.

For example, when my 2 year old was burning up with a fever and no medicine seemed to be lowering it, I frantically called my friend, Diane. She was my calm voice of reason and my empathetic ear. She is everything that I would like to be as a Mom and most importantly, she loves my daughter.

And, my sis-in-law, Peggy, a counselor for people with eating disorders, is helping me to help Hannah through her present worries about her "big stomach." While she offers advice, most importantly, she also just listens to me. That's what great friends do...we're in this mothering thing together.

I could go on and on about these great friends of mine, but I won't. Suffice it to say as a group, they are amazing women and incredible mothers. I love them with all my heart and am fortunate to have them in my life...and Hannah is fortunate that I have them, too. They complete me as a Mom...not just a Mom...but a "good mom."

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