On Being a Mother
By Bernadette A. Moyer
I always knew that I would get married and that I would have children and become a mother. And I knew that I would do it in that order. My belief is that the reason it takes a man and a woman to make a baby is because ideally it takes two to raise one. I never ever wanted to be a single parent. My view was that each parent a father figure and a mother figure brought their own perspective and gifts to the process of parenting children. Together they created balance.
As a teenager I worked with kids at summer camp for years as a C.I.T. (Counselor in Training) Counselor and Unit Leader, I babysat often and was the second oldest of five children. I worked in a special needs school and youth retreat house. I always did well with children and had many follow me long after the camp or school experience. I taught both swimming and archery as a camp counselor. People often commented on what a great mother I was and said things like, “I hope one day I have a close relationship with my children like you do with yours.”
My kids have called me “awesome” “amazing” and the “best mother ever.” At times they have used other names to describe me, not so nice ones that usually came about when I took a stand and a position that they didn't like. I took pride in all my mothering from trying to be a good homemaker and a professional career woman. I wanted my kids to see that family came first and that together we were better than when apart. As a mother I believe that you could have it all being a homemaker and career woman, maybe just not all at the same time.
When my daughter’s father unexpectedly died I found myself as a single mother with a toddler. Not only was I going to be the nurturer but also the bread winner. I worked as a waitress in a high end restaurant for the first five years and then went into apartment rental management and real estate for the flexible hours. My goal was to be there. I arranged my work schedule around my daughter’s school schedule. I was a carpool mom, a room mom a volunteer mom. Whatever it took I did it, to give my daughter a private school education. To receive the “parish rate” at her school I had to volunteer my time. I painted and worked the annual fundraiser. I baked and I donated.
Early on it was difficult with no money except for what I earned as a waitress. We lived in a nice neighborhood and for security reasons I took the upper level third floor apartment. When I wasn’t working we spent numerous hours in the public library, our community pool and with friends and family.
Having a child takes your focus off of yourself as kids have immediate needs. Our lives revolved around her school and activity schedule. I don’t need bread, milk or orange juice in my house I can live without all of them. Yet with having children these were just a few of the necessary staples.
My child was the whole world to me. There was nothing I wouldn’t have done for her. When her dad died I was mortified that she would never know her own father. I tried my best to make up for it. All I ever wanted was to give my child more than what I grew up with, now; early on I wasn’t going to be able to do that. I had a dad, I knew him, and she never would.
After that marriage and his death I wasn’t interested in any real relationships, I dated had guys in my life but for the most part kept that and them away from our home and my child. I wasn’t looking for a husband or a father replacement, perhaps I should have. Friends said I was like “I am woman, hear me roar.” I worked every single shift I could get and often late into the night when she was asleep.
Becoming a Realtor was professionally and personally rewarding. At just 27 years old I afforded my first home and paid for it with 6-commission checks as I assumed an existing mortgage and immediately had equity. I managed my career our home and my child.
She attended the best private schools and I wanted her to be educated both academically and spiritually. My mother was out of state and none of my sisters had children of their own. They were all in other states doing their own things. She had me and I had her. We had friends in the neighborhood and with my work. We lived well.
I was always really strong on my own and fully functioning until the impact of abuse hit. Then it was like a bridge that just tumbled down. It was like a storm that shattered our lives. The only rescue was one that I eventually created for myself and for us. It was not ideal.
For more than ten years I was a single mother. When I met my second husband and became instant mom to pre-mature infant twins, a son and a daughter along with my then 11 year old child, I welcomed the opportunity to co-parent. I could not have asked for a better partner. Not only was he the main bread winner but present in their life. We ate dinner every single night together as a family. We split the activities and I continued to have the most flexible work schedule.
We shared all the carpool activities and worked as a team to provide what was necessary. It is a tremendous amount of work and responsibility raising children. We put our hearts and our souls into being the best parents we could be.
Our children have all been so different. Our son was always so appreciative of everything that we did for him. Early on as a Scout he spent weeks away at different camps and then every summer a ten day excursion to many states. He always missed us and returned even more appreciative than when he left home. Going away made him realize what a good thing he had at home.
The girls were always more of a challenge; any battles began during the teenage years and were always over boys, dating and sex. We wanted them to put their education and themselves first.
Kids grow up and have their own life codes and views, I enjoy hearing their perspective. The one that I most hope to hear is when they have made the commitment and carried it through to raising their own children. No one knows what it is like to be a mother until you have been one. No one knows what it takes to raise children to maturity until they themselves have done so.
For all the kids that criticize their parents, this is what I would say, when you have done the job, done the work, been there and given up your life to support another life, when you have parented for 18 or more years, then and only then do I want to hear your comments and criticism. Because until that day when you have been there and until you have that experience, you really have no real point of reference. You have no idea what it takes until you, yourself have been a mother or a father.
As we approach this Mother’s Day I am celebrating my more than 32 years with kids living at home. I am remembering all the good times, the joys that they brought into my life. There is no greater purpose in life than in having a child and raising that child. To love a child and to give your heart and your soul to a child is the deepest most selfless acts in life and gives true meaning to life.
Mother’s come in all shapes and sizes with a variety of gifts and talents, this mother is most proud of giving so much of herself not just for a naturally birthed child but for two non-biological children that I loved and raised as my very own children.
Having children and being a mother isn’t about getting it all right all of the time, it isn’t about perfection, we aren’t perfect and neither are our children. It is about being there; doing the work and knowing that you gave all you had and did the very best that you could have done no matter what situation you found yourself in.
Happy Mother’s Day 2013 to all mothers who have loved so deeply and who have done the work and who know what it takes to be a mother!