As we are nearing Mother’s Day, I thought I’d ask this question. What kind of mother are you?
Years ago I had to give a speech in my college speech class that told something about me. Having been a stay-at-home-mom for most of my adult life, I struggled with what to share with all of these babies in my class. I wasn’t really nervous about talking in front of them, as much as I was about the impression I would leave. At the time, so many stay-at-home moms were labeled as soap-opera-watching, bon-bon-eating, tennis-playing, soccer moms, that I wanted desperately to portray something different.
So this is how I started…I’d like to introduce you briefly, to my personal inspiration as a writer, a mother and a woman. This is Marmee. (And yes, I had this little doll as a prop.) You may recall that she is the mother of the four young girls that Louisa May Alcott wrote about in Little Women.
You see, all I really ever wanted to be when I grew up was a mother. My goals as a mother were inspired by Marmee. She had 4 daughters who were all very different and from the first time I read the book, and then saw the movie, I loved how this woman “trained each girl in the way SHE should go.” She recognized each child’s gifts and talents and encouraged them to each follow their natural bent.
Her oldest was Meg and she was domestic, loving to bake and run the household. She had a pianist in Beth, artist in Amy and a writer in Jo. My son is now a writer and lives in New York City, my daughter is following her dreams studying Art History and Business Management with hopes of being a curator in a museum. 6 figure incomes? Absolutely not, but their jobs will be something they love to do. That makes me very happy. Do I feel successful as a mom? Absolutely, YES.
I am not trying to pat myself on the back. I had very little to do with who they’ve become. Our Creator did it all. Another book that I read years ago was by John Trent and Gary Smalley, called The Blessing. There was a quote by one of the authors that I’ve never forgotten. I couldn’t find the exact quote, but this is the gist of it…
If we become students of our children, we will learn something about them, as well as more about ourselves.
I remember specifically that the author spoke of how his own mother subscribed to a photography magazine in order to learn more about his hobby. She did this, not because she was interested in photography, but she wanted to be able to converse with her son about something he loved. It made an impression. He later wrote about it in a book. Don’t you know that momma was looking over a stack of magazines and thanking her Lord for all those pictures, descriptions, f-stops and aperture settings?
Creativity inspires creativity and it’s the same with motherhood. We start when they are babies by singing them lullabies, reading bedtime stories, coloring in books and marching through the house with a toy drum or (my poor ears) a kazoo. Then as they mature, we teach them baseball, bake brownies, begin dance classes or swim lessons as we seek to find their natural bent. I knew both my children’s at a very early age.
My son loved books long before he could read them. Most of the time, if you missed him for a second, you would find him in his dad’s recliner with a book in his lap. Sometimes, he would be “reading” aloud, mumbling the cutest sounds that only he knew the meaning of. Other times, you’d find him lining up his “caws” (matchbox cars) on the back of the sofa. Reading and Mathematics are his strengths.
My daughter showed her love of art from the age of three. My mom-in-love went to her friend Carolyn’s house for lunch one day. Carolyn had invited her to bring Amy to play with her granddaughter, so it was an exciting day for all four. After lunch, as the adults visited, the sound of silence interrupted their conversation. As they topped the stairs to the bedroom where the girls were playing, the smell of magic markers greeted them. They had “painted” furniture, walls and yes, even a lamp shade. This was before the days of invisible ink. Mortified, doesn’t describe my feelings as my mom-in-love related this story to me. But, I learned a valuable lesson even with this story. Carolyn wasn’t upset. They were playing. It was ok. All I can say is, I hope to goodness I can be that merciful and loving when I’m a grandmother.
Inspiration found it’s way into those markers and onto that lamp shade. I fully expect Amy to design magic marker lamp shades once she’s out of school. And while I’m on that subject, let me share that the setting for this luncheon was on a farm, in the home of a writer for Southern Living magazine. I blame the whole thing on Carolyn. As I said, creativity breeds creativity.
The setting in Little Women was in the childhood home of the writer, Jo, and was named Orchard House.
Music, domestication, painting and of course, writing were all the result of inspiration in Orchard House. While we continue to mull over names for our little cottage by the bay, I wonder, what are the natural bents of your children? What is being inspired in your home? What kind of mother do you want to be?
My home is now an empty nest, but my daughter is filling it with her artwork, and as my son is a comedy writer; the lamp shades are painted with laughter with each of his visits.
I’m thinking my “grandmother name” may have to be “Marmee”. I am a happy mother.