Understanding Mom

The popsicle stick rendering of Mom, made by my youngest, Lilly

The popsicle stick rendering of Mom, made by my youngest, Lilly

I used to have a little book of quotes about motherhood that, along with Life’s Little Instruction Book by H. Jackson Brown Jr., I kept on a tiny three-legged table in the powder room, stacked neatly on top of a few National Geographic Magazines. The pair of books paid equal homage to the males and females using our facilities, and besides, I figured that anyone staying in our bathroom long enough to read should at least try to enrich themselves while they’re at it.

I got the book years ago as a baby shower gift from someone I can’t really remember. Perhaps I was feeling a pre-natal hormone surge, but I do recall being touched by the thoughtfulness of the gift, and envisioned my family pondering its inspirational quotes and finding newfound appreciation for their loving matriarch for years to come.

When our military family moved from place to place, I had the movers pack up the books along with other bathroom accessories — a wicker tissue box cover, a decorative soap dispenser, fingertip towels, a little dish for matches, and the three-legged table — and in every new location, I faithfully placed the little motherhood book back in its traditional spot.

Despite the fact that this routine went on for about 15 years, reality is, the book’s binding remained crisp because no one in my family was interested. Admittedly, the few times I tried to read the book, it bored me to tears.

Page after page of heartfelt reflections on the nurturing bond between mother and child. A couple pages into it, reading the back of the antibacterial soap bottle seemed far more entertaining than suffering through such corny drivel.

Believe me, I have experienced the indescribable joys and deep-rooted connections unique to motherhood. I have felt every saccharinely trite, mawkishly sentimental, cloyingly schmaltzy emotion when mothering my own children.

However, as the mother of three teenagers [pray for me] outward displays of such corny sentimentality are not well received, unless that is, I want to see my kids’ eyes rolling, which I most certainly do not. My teenage son doesn’t understand why I like to smooch his prickly cheeks. My middle child thinks it’s weird that I breathe in her hair with my eyes closed. My youngest doesn’t get why I regularly stop in the hallway to sigh at the baby photo of her sitting in the kitchen sink.

No little book of mush will make them understand what I know. I have learned over the years that appreciation for motherhood is best felt, not described in words on a Mother’s Day card or in a book on a three-legged table in the bathroom.

The only way to fully comprehend the instinctual and emotional feelings of motherhood is to experience parenthood for oneself. Thankfully, my three teenagers are too wrapped up in their headphones and toenail color to consider procreation anytime in the next decade.

So I will have to wait for true appreciation.

For the time being, I will be patient. I will try to let it go when they act like Mother’s Day is a hassle. I will pretend I didn’t hear them say, incredulously, “What do you mean we’re going to early church because we have to take Mom to brunch?!” I will smile and thank them when they give me a card they hastily picked up from 7-11, and grocery store cut flowers even though it is common knowledge that I prefer potted plants. And I will bite my lip when my teenage son blurts out his brunch order before mine.

We mothers must wait for the day when our children experience parenthood for themselves, and continue to hope that they’ll finally get it. No, they probably won’t come running back to us to show their undying love and appreciation, but maybe, just maybe, they’ll stop being the first ones to let go when we hug them.

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Comments: 13

  1. jody worsham May 15, 2014 at 5:06 pm Reply

    Cool! My kids cleaned the kitchen and the refrigerator for Mother’ Day. Never mind that they threw out the browned hamburger meat I was saving for supper that night, and never mind that they put away all the stuff in a new place that I knew where was…before the cleaning. I did have sparkling empty counters.

  2. Margaret May 15, 2014 at 1:38 pm Reply

    Hey Lisa! I’m a little late reading this but just wanted to let you know that your thoughts are spot on!! So true! Plus it think MIchelle’s comment made me as “teary eyed” as much as your column……. I need a tissue!!

  3. energywriter May 13, 2014 at 12:37 pm Reply

    Wonderful post. Left a long comment. sd

  4. energywriter May 13, 2014 at 12:36 pm Reply

    Loved the popsicle mother. So cute. All these comments touched my heart as much as your blog. My daughters gift this year is one that’s hard to beat. They power washed my house and gave me lovely cards. While I would have gladly ran away from home when my kids were teens (son especially), I can now dote on the great-grands and love the little boy hugs. Of course, the 7 year old only hugs upon request now.

  5. Michelle M May 11, 2014 at 10:07 pm Reply

    Teary eyed again…the day does come when they are not the first to let go, but sadly it is when they no longer really live at the place you call home. sniff…

    • Lisa Smith Molinari May 13, 2014 at 11:55 am Reply

      I’m glad you appreciated the sentiment – thanks for commenting Michelle!

  6. lauriebest May 10, 2014 at 9:23 am Reply

    I saw a survey on the Today show this morning indicating most moms want a clean house (76% voted for this) and second in line was ‘time alone’!! In that vein, I am leaving today on a holiday — with a friend, none of my grown children–two of whom live at home with me! I love them dearly but am happy to leave them in charge of the house and the menagerie for some much-deserved time to myself on beach. Loved your take on Mother’s Day…and a happy one to you!

    • Lisa Smith Molinari May 10, 2014 at 9:47 pm Reply

      That is so funny Laurie because I asked for a cleaning service for mother’s day! I’m one of the 76 percent for sure! Have fun on your get away!

  7. A Cup Of That May 10, 2014 at 8:21 am Reply

    Very beautifully written. My kids haven’t even started school yet, so I have yet to receive the cute, handmade Mothers Day trinkets from school. When Mothers Day comes each year and no one even acknowledges it, I can’t help but to get upset. Do I not even get a card? Or the day off from housework? Their father would say, “you aren’t my mother so why would I get you a card?” These are all discussions a mother must have with her son, but instead it’s the wife that must teach a grown boy at times. I’m hoping he’ll do better this year. 😉 Thanks for posting this touching article.

    • Lisa Smith Molinari May 10, 2014 at 9:46 pm Reply

      Just wait until school starts and you will get years of super cute sentimental cards scribbled with crayon and glued with macaroni. I still have mine in a box in the basement. Then, maybe your husband will get a clue and join the fun!

      • A Cup Of That May 10, 2014 at 9:49 pm Reply

        I can’t wait! I am really looking forward to it.

  8. patrice May 10, 2014 at 7:55 am Reply

    “Sniff”! Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers. I know that I appreciate mine more now that I have kids of my own and smile knowing that my two may truly understand me more when the grand kids come. Fortunately, we both have great mothers who made it look easier than it is! You, dear Lisa, are one of the best!

    • Lisa Smith Molinari May 10, 2014 at 9:44 pm Reply

      Thanks Patrice! We DO have good mothers, and thanks to their example, we turned out to be decent moms ourselves! Let’s hope the tradition continues with our kids!

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