Saturday, May 11, 2013


The little child who gives you a hug for no reason; who believes you can make her hurts go away; and who knows you can personally protect her from the monsters under the bed; suddenly turns into a stranger who marches into the world on her own without a backward glance and personally holds you responsible for ruining her life by speaking to her friends. Motherhood! It’s a wild and crazy journey that at times seems totally out of our control.
Me with daughter Katie at her
Bridesmaid's luncheon 2006.

        I would like to say that my two children always thought I was the perfect mom. Yes, I would like to say that; but, of course, it wouldn't be true. But as I watch them become parents and self-sufficient adults, I know that I did many things right. As I watch our daughter keeping up with her super-energetic toddler, I am amazed at her stamina and patience, even when her head hurts and she is tired. It is so satisfying to watch my little girl transform into such a caring wife and mother; and my little boy grow to be a loving husband and father.
Me with son Peter before his wedding in 2007.
       For all of the books on raising a child, there is no simple guide that fits all families. The truth is that being a mother is
hard work. And there is no such thing as a non-working mother. Whether a mother works outside the home like our daughter-in-law who is a teacher or stays home full-time like our daughter, every mother is a full-time working mom. Even when apart, a mother is always mentally with her child, thinking about the cute things they do and concerned about how they are getting along without her.
My mother, Kathryn Turner Shattles, with
my children, Katie and Peter, in 1983.
      There is also no such thing as a perfect mother. We get tired; we get angry; we run out of patience; we go out to dinner or a meeting and leave our child with a baby-sitter; we say embarrassing things and serve meals that aren't their favorite foods. But we also share our children’s snugly hugs and wipe runny noses and kiss their bruises. We give up a new dress so they can have new shoes. We go to theme parks rather than resorts and piano recitals rather than symphonies.
           Perfection is over-rated. A good mother is not perfect, yet, with her imperfections, she teaches her children life-lessons. The main criterion for a good mom is to continue to love her children, including their imperfections. A mother knows that the love she gives and receives will outweigh any flaws and imperfections.
     The best mothers are real people. They don’t usually wear pearls and a fancy dress for cooking and cleaning like on a 50’s sitcom. Sometimes they laugh and sometimes they cry. Most times they’re happy but sometimes they’re sad. Most times they speak calmly but sometimes they raise their voice. Yes, the best mothers are real people, slightly flawed, but always, always loving their children, ready with a hug and smile and a word of encouragement – no matter how old the child may be.