Recently I stood at my kitchen counter, breaking a store bought chicken down into pieces, cleaning what would become that night’s BBQ dinner. I gave as much attention to the details of my task while also trying to appease the hunger requests being made by my two toddlers playing in the adjacent room. As I stood there working, I began to remember being a ten-year-old girl, standing at my mother’s kitchen counter doing the same. As a young girl, I felt frustrated that my mom wouldn’t purchase the boneless skinless version of our dinner, saving me from what seemed to be a pointless chore. I remember feeling slightly nauseated and utterly disgusted that the slimy meat was going to be my food. I complained just as much. Now as an adult, doing the same task, I don’t feel the annoyance. Those feelings are replaced with a warm thankfulness as I fondly think back to my childhood and being my mother’s little helper. What I would give to go back in time to her kitchen counter, to hear her instruct me in simple tasks and feel her hugs after a job well done.
Looking back at my childhood, I realize mothering in the 80’s wasn’t’ too different than what I experience now. Sure, there were differences, like not having to strap all four children into car seats because that wasn’t a ‘thing’ back then. But there are a lot of things that are still the same today. She looked for ways to pinch pennies from our grocery budget, even if that means chicken with bones and skin, and now I do the same. She didn’t get to use the bathroom without someone calling her name because of a sibling dispute or a lost treasure that had to be found immediately. Just like many moms today, my mother stretched herself thin to get my siblings and me to our music lessons, art lessons, or any other play date we had begged her to schedule.
Most importantly, I can now look back at every sacrifice and see her strength through her struggles. There were days she sat in her room and cried out to God, not knowing the “right” way to parent her four children despite the stack of parenting books she had poured over. As an adult, I am thankful that I was able to witness my mother’s own insecurities and frustrations related to parenting and running a home. I watched her strive to find a balance between “mom” and being “herself.” That’s a battle I face daily as I feel myself slip a little deeper into motherhood each day. As I look back over the past thirty years, I realized that she would probably describe some of my memories as moments she would love to change or to do over, but I couldn’t disagree more. I am drawing strength from those moments because they allow me to know that I am not alone.
Wife and Mother