Family Matters
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Family Matters

The Mother That I Want To Be

Photo by Bethany Beck on Unsplash

When I first became a mother almost seven years ago, I didn’t really ask myself what kind of mother I wanted to be.

I do know that I am not the traditional type. I don’t prepare my children’s meals, I don’t fuss over them, I cannot tie their hair nicely. But I love them as dearly and deeply as a mother can love her child.

Perhaps I am not traditional because we lost our mother early. I don’t have memories of her, only photos. My younger sister and I grew up with our father as our parent, and for us, that was enough — more than enough.

So when I became a mother, there was no personal template of motherhood that I plumbed into. Instead, I asked: What kind of person do I want my children to be?

To be good and kind, to be grounded, humble, simple, self-reliant, independent, respectful, to treat others as equals, to be curious, creative, secure in our love, to know right from wrong and do what is right, to be happy, healthy, well-adjusted.

It’s a long list, and my husband and I have our work cut out for us. How do we raise them to grow into these? Many ways, but to me the most important is to be that — to be the kind of person we hope they will be. And imperfect as we are, we can try our best. We must try our best.

There are days when my patience runs short or I just want to be alone (including in the bathroom!), but being a mother to two young daughters gives me a deep and unending source of contentment, gratitude, and happiness. Seeing them smile and dance, hearing them sing, giggle, and laugh, feeling their short arms around me and their sweet kiss on my cheek — these are the simple, joyful moments of a mother.

I strive to be a better person because I want to be a better mother. For I know that more than any person in their life, the mother is the most influential. When I look at my children, I see not only my face reflected back at me, but also the kind of person that I am.

“The goodness of the mother is written in the gaiety of the child.” These words of Victor Hugo, I write in my journal to remind me.

I only have to listen to my children and observe them to see if I have been teaching them well, if I have been good myself.

When I hear my six-year-old talk gently, or strictly, I know she heard it from me, and so I become more careful with my tone. She learns expressions and words from me and quickly picks them up. “What the child says, he has heard at home,” goes an African proverb.

Our toddler has also copied my words and mannerisms. I know she got “Please wait!” from me because I say it sometimes, or more often than I should, when she wants me to do something and I am doing something else. She also shakes her head when she sings. I wondered where she got it, until I sang and realized I was shaking my head.

This is why I write too, for I know that I should do things that make me creative, so I can be a better person, and a better mother, and a better writer. So the cycle goes. The writer Brenda Ueland said:

And that is why I would say to the worn and hectored mothers in the class who longed to write and could not find a minute for it:

“If you would shut your door against the children for an hour a day and say: ‘Mother is working on her five-act tragedy in blank verse!’ you would be surprised how they would respect you. They would probably all become playwrights.”

When I look at my children, I see that they are works in progress, and so am I. And I must continue to look inwards daily, religiously, if I want my children to grow into the kind, happy, curious, and well-adjusted persons I hope they will be.

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Debbie Rodolfo

Debbie Rodolfo

Writer, mother, book lover, businesswoman, traveler from the Philippines || www.bloomingpen.net