For all my faults and failures, I have tried — I am a mother

May 12, 2013 

By Shelly Norman, Herald editorial writer

In an age where roughly half of all marriages will end in divorce and 48 percent of first children are born to single mothers, the traditional notion of families is no longer the norm — either by choice or chance.

It’s a lamentable trend.

Despite our changing culture, today’s message is “mothers still matter.”

I know this to be true because A) I have a mother — for which I am grateful — and B) I am a mother.

I am a mother — but I am not a perfect mother.

I am a mother who cares. I am a mother who tries. I am a mother who makes mistakes.

And every mother I know feels the same way.

Insecurity about our mothering skills is the one overarching thread that binds me to millions of women across the galaxy who I have never met.

Funny guy Stephen Colbert warns about the danger of leaving a mother alone for too long. Apparently the reason moms are so busy is because if you give them any down time at all, they start to beat themselves up about all the things they could and should be doing better.

It’s true.

But it’s also true that I have done, and still do, some things right.

When my kids were little, I pulled them in a trailer behind the bike and we rode all over town. We played. We danced. I read to them. I hugged them. I put them in time out.

When they were older, I volunteered at their schools and made up games at the park and climbed on top of the roof to watch fireworks.

As teenagers — the stage they are in now — I let them drive my car. I sometimes put a little gas in the tank. I text them. I nag them.

One daughter especially loves The Avengers movie. I went to see it with her in the theater — four times. And since have had many hours of discussion with her about plot points and character development.

I want bonus points for that.

For whatever else I have done wrong or other ways I have failed, I was a superhero fan girl most of last summer. Shwarma, anyone?

I also want to give credit and appreciation to the many women who have “mothered” my children. This includes their grandmothers, school teachers, church leaders and their friends’ parents.

These women have mentored and loved my children. No one raises a child without help. These women also have given me support and advice. Thank you.

However, for all the mothering hints I have received over the years (mostly having to do with teething and potty training) I was oddly unprepared for the parenting milestone that I hit this year.

One of my children left home.

She packed her bags and moved to another state for college. Poof, just like that she was gone. Some of her junk still lies on the floor of her room, but she is most definitely out of here.

On Facebook this week, she tagged me in this post. “The mother-child relationship is paradoxical and, in a sense, tragic. It requires the most intense love on the mother’s side, yet this very love must help the child grow away from the mother, and to become fully independent.”

— Erich Fromm

I know this to be true ... because I am a mother.

Tri-City Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service