I grew up in a quintessential two-parent home with an incredibly kind pair of caregivers. As an only child, I created nothing but happy memories shared between two doting parents.
As much as I love my father, I never truly appreciated how much my mother loved and cared for me almost on her own. My dad is kind of a dreamer, a philosopher, but a space cadet. In stark contrast, my mother’s is a strategic planner, a course corrector, adaptable in nearly every life situation. Everything is achievable in her eyes and no plan is worth executing unless there is a Plan B, Plan C and Plan D to follow. She taught me independence with her brand of tough love.
She once told me she never set the bar at mediocre. She believed that if she did, I’d only strive to be “just good enough,” and fail to push the boundaries of my ability. In my young adulthood, I often resented her for this comment. I felt that it wasn’t a show of support. Having a child of my own, I now can appreciate her wisdom. She felt that imparting life tools was her job and that it was my job to create my own path to success.
As a mother, she was never a hovercraft. As a grandmother, she has evolved into bit of a worry-wart. It’s an interesting dynamic, watching my mother grandparent, not parent my child. I still learn something new every day. As a grandmother, she has this incredible attention to detail. Although I can discern Andrew’s tantrums from boo-boo cries, my mother never ceases to offer a more emotional point of view that I miss in my daily ministrations.
“He missed his mama,” my mother says while Andrew sticks his little fist into his mouth crying.
Instinctively, I know he’s crying because he’s teething, but my mom observes this display as a relieved cry that I’m there to pick him up. And maybe it’s both. That’s the great thing about a mother’s mother; they have a different point of view.
My mother was a child advocate for most of her life. She has seen some of the worst childhood traumas. You must have a thick skin to do that type of work for 20+ years. But under that thick skin, she’s all mush. She was a working mom, sometimes under pressure and with long hours, but she always stopped everything to be present with me when she was home. She was the educational promoter of the family, buying me hundreds of books, encouraging my creativity, and reading my naive, little poems and short stories. She embodied the free-spirit parent that I want to be.