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Once a Mother, Always a Mother

May 14th, 2010 by Melinda Blau

Here’s a Mother U bulletin:  You think it’s over when the kids grow up?  Think again, younger generation moms.

Recently, I came across a DCMoms post “Mom, Where’s My Jock Strap,” to which the author, SAHM blogger Dawn Mooney, mother of a ten year old and two preschoolers, wanted to add this subtitle:  “And other questions that I’m clearly not old enough to be asked.”  Initially, it piqued my interest because of Jen, mother of three boys.  I thought it was a great thing to send to someone who calls her home JHOP (“Jen’s House of Penises”).  I can’t imagine how many jock straps she’ll be hunting when her boys get a little older.  But then I realized that the point of Dawn’s piece was that while experience had prepared her for her younger children’s (much simpler) questions, like, “Will you help me wife my butt?” she was flying blind with her eldest.

“…with the oldest child, it’s as if we’re walking together down this unknown path, not sure of what is around each new bend. Sometimes we’re hand in hand, other times we’re woefully apart, but we’re always at the same mile marker, no solid predictive visions of what’s to come in either of our heads….”

As I read that Dawn’s insights about her oldest son, I realized that there’s one thing this wise mother doesn’t — indeed, can’t — yet know:  The dance of parenting is eternal, and the journey with your first-born goes on forever. 

If you think about it,  how could there be some magical point at which the path just stops?  Even though your journeys diverge, the mother/first-child dynamic is always there, changing as each of you reaches different crossroads in your respective adult lives.  Especially with mothers and daughters. The issues change, from having talks about drugs and sex (or avoiding them) to  discussions  of (or secrets about) infertility.  Whether we are “hand in hand or woefully apart,” we have no idea where that path will take us, only that it will keep changing.

Of course there are differences between those early years of parenting and many years later, when your oldest is an adult.  You’re no longer responsible for (or even privvy to!) her decisions, but you”re in each other’s lives, albeit in different homes.  When your daughter’s child is ill, when she loses a job, when her marriage falters, she is  still your child.   She’s not ten, but you still want her to come up with the “right” solution or at least help her soldier through it.   And it’s harder now–the issues are bigger, the stakes higher, but it’s none of  your business.   We older generation mothers may get better at remembering that it’s her life, better at waiting ’til we’re asked and not being insulted when we’re not.  But we never completely turn off the feeling of wanting to hold her hand.  Once a mother, always a mother.

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3 Responses to “Once a Mother, Always a Mother”

  1. Natalie says:

    I love that I will always be a mother and that they will always depend on me! Even now, I still need my mom and she’s the person I go to when things go wrong or when I need help. It’s hard to remember when we are in “the thick of it” what a blessing motherhood really is.

  2. Megan says:

    Does the same go for adopted children? Like., the bond between me and my adopted child is strong, but sometimes i worry that when she is older and married she will not need me anymore, or she will stop calling me mom. I know i always will be mom, though, deep down.. but..does the same go for adopted kids?

  3. Melinda Blau says:

    One never “outgrows” a loving mom. Also, motherhood isn’t conferred by blood as much as by behavior. Your relationship will change when she’s a mother, too, but as many of my posts and guest voices on MotherU suggest, it’s often for the better–especially if you start out with a strong relationship. Also, key your eye on the FAMILY dynamic, not just your relationship. For that check out the new book, “Family Whispering.”

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