This weekend I am traveling home to help my mother celebrate her 70th birthday. She and my father are also celebrating over 30 years in their house. They move at the end of next month. There is much to celebrate and I’m thankful to be part of it.
My mother is a role model and and a source of strength and support. Along with my father, she provided a secure childhood, and I know I was fortunate to have that. It is a foundation I learned to cherish, and now try to provide for my own children.
As a child I took my mother for granted. I expect that my own children take me for granted also. And so it should be. They need to know I will always be there for them. They need to feel safe and secure, and if they question my presence then they question their own security. As a child I had no questions. I knew I could rely on my mother for anything.
I believe this came from very clear rules and boundless love. My sister, brother and I knew what our limits were. We knew we were doing something we’d get in trouble for, even as we did it.
As an older teen, I remember coming home late on a Saturday night. It was past the time I was allowed to stay out, and cell phones didn’t exist yet to let my parents know where I was if I was late. So as I walked up to the door I rehearsed my words. “We got a flat tire. I’m sorry I’m late.” Once it was the truth. Once it was a convenient excuse. Of course, now I know that two flat tires don’t hold much weight with a parent.
However, I recall feeling scared for the consequence, but not for my safety. My mother might take away a privilege, but she wouldn’t kick me out of the house, and she would always love me. I never questioned that. Ever.
As a teenager I was also keenly aware of the level of choice I was allowed to make. When it came to new boyfriends, college choices, job choices, or other decisions that would affect my future, I was allowed to make those myself. I laugh now as I remember that if my mother was unhappy about my choice, she was eerily silent. (She doesn’t often have nothing to say.) Silence was enough of an opinion that I weighed my decisions carefully. But I still made those decisions myself, and lived with the consequences, positive or negative.
Knowing clearly what my mother expected of me (hard work, care for others, respect for rules and inner strength), helped me to establish myself in the working world and into adulthood.
My children are growing, though they seem a long way from adulthood. Nevertheless I know it is important to set clear rules and provide infinite love. My mother helped me to grow into the person I am today. I learned alot from her. I hope I am giving my children the same positive, nurturing environment she gave me.
I grew up in the house we will celebrate in this weekend. People have asked me if it is difficult to see family time in that house come to an end. Maybe a little, I reply. But mostly not. When the foundation of my childhood were my strong and loving mother and father, I can help them celebrate anywhere, even across distances, as what they gave is always with me.
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