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Aging and Motherhood

I suppose, like many, I didn’t understand the significance of Mother’s Day until I was older with children of my own.  I was guilty of thinking it was a “Hallmark holiday” full of over-priced brunches and obligatory family get togethers.  It’s amazing how your perspective on things changes with age.


I was blessed to have two wonderful grandmothers who were actively involved in my life.  I credit my four grandparents for paving my path as a Geriatric Care Manager and working with older adults.  I am also fortunate to be the mother of two successful, determined children.  While raising my children, I was surrounded by love from a doting mother-in-law and friends who were fellow mothers who offered guidance, tips, and shoulders to cry on.


The one constant throughout, however, was my own mom.  From the day she and my dad brought me home from the hospital, through the childhood years and terrible teens, to current days, my mother’s work is never done.


I didn’t know it as a child, but my mother achieved Rock Star status.  She worked full-time as a dedicated school teacher, but always found time to pick me up from school on time, serve as Blue Bird leader and Soccer Mom.  Every night my mom cooked dinner, helped with homework and tucked me into bed.  She gave me a lot of grace and encouragement, but held her ground when it came to my toddler tantrums, teenage attitude, and pre-adolescence rebellion. 


But do you really appreciate any of the sacrifices in the moment?  As for me, I confess the answer is “no.”  It wasn’t until I traveled my own motherhood journey of heartache and sorrow that I saw how strong and resilient my mom is.  It took creating my own family to seek her wisdom.  It was a series of events before I had the insight to acknowledge I knew what I was doing, all thanks to my mom.


I’m sensitive to the fact that not everyone is as fortunate as I and they’re unable to write a love letter to their mom this Mother’s Day.  As a Geriatric Care Manager, I’ve witnessed adult children lose their aging mother – both physically and in spirit, as the mother succumbs to the effects of dementia.  As a friend, I’ve supported girlfriends after the passing of their aging mother.  I’ve had to say goodbye to my mother-in-law and many years have passed since I lost my lovely grandmothers.


I now appreciate that Mother’s Day is an opportunity to pause and give thanks to our mothers and mother-figures for all of their day-to-day sacrifices.  I’m also well aware that it is a painful reminder to those who have lost their mother or who are separated from their child.  With those two incongruent thoughts in mind, Mother’s Day is a day to gently hold and honor the women in our lives.  For it is without a doubt, every mom has struggled to some degree.


Thank you to the women who have shaped me; to the women who continue to hold me up; to the women who have inspired me.  And to my own mom, Anne Sexton wrote, “A woman is her mother.” I should be so lucky.


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