Friday, 8 March 2013

The Meaning of Motherhood

It's Mother's Day this Sunday, here in the UK. Like Christmas and birthdays, it's a time of joy, appreciation, the giving of gifts, treats and much pampering for some, and of bittersweet reflection for others. An occasion to celebrate motherhood, which for some people is a reminder of what they didn't have. 

So last year I had no shame in writing a Mothers Day post which spelt out the genuine acknowledgments I gave to my mother, despite our relationship being somewhat non-existent. I will hold on to those same words this year whilst I watch others have a more entertaining time. 

Those who haven't read my post can find the link here:


This year, I would like to ask a few questions regarding your experiences and feelings about your own mother or the woman who raised you - be it a grandmother, foster-parent etc:

1. What are the key qualities of a mother?
2. What was the most important thing that you mother said, that left the deepest impression on you - whether good or bad?
3. How will you be honouring your mother on Mother's Day?
4. Single Dads - do you feel the need to fill a motherly role with your children? If so, in what way?
4. What was the best or worst moment that you had with your mother?
5. If you are a mother, do you expect recognition for what you have done for your children over the years? 

Please feel free to answer any/all of these questions, or just share your experiences. I would love to hear your comments, views and opinions. 

58 comments:

  1. I think all humans have female and male qualities, and that mothering isn't uniquely limited to women. My mom and I grew up in two very different generations, and most of our issues stemmed from our clashes over my independence, my unconventional, non-conformist approach to life, and most of all, my sexuality. Becoming a mother has exposed me to an entirely different world, one of being more concerned for others than myself. Now, I understand some of the fears my mother had, and know that they were malicious or intended to suppress my spirit; she was just coming from a different perspective. I don't expect recognition from my sons. The recognition I do get is wonderful, though, and I certainly do appreciate it. All I want for them is happiness and good health, the same things my mother wanted/wants for me.

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    1. I've heard many a time that when a woman becomes a mother, she realises or can relate to many of the fears that their own mother had over her. Some fears are justified as time goes on and others are not. I guess that, depending on the era our parents lived, things have changed drastically regarding what it is to be a mother.
      It's good that you don't automatically expect recognition from your sons Helena because it's as if you're saying that they must be thankful for what you have done for them, rather than them acknowledging who they see you as. Thanks Helena.

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  2. Key qualities of a good mother--to love unconditionally, to be a good listener, to be supportive, forgiving, patient and nurturing in all ways possible. To teach them to laugh, to be independent and to embrace the life they have. The deepest impression my own mother has left me is to be strong and carry on, no matter what life throws at you. Bad things happen to good people, so you learn to transform your losses into gains. Smile, even when you are hurting inside. To celebrate Mother's day with her, I usually take her out to brunch and then spoil her with some of the finest chocolates I can find because she loves them. My worst memory with her? A time when I was a young teenager, I overheard her telling some friends at our house party that she felt I could do so much better---that she was disappointed in me because I wasn't turning out the way she thought I would. Both she and my father were extremely critical and judgmental--it was hard growing up under such high expectations. Lastly, yes, I am a mother now to 4 amazing kids whom I would lay down my life for. I don't need accolades or recognition for this; I know I've done a good job mothering them because of the incredible adults they have turned out to be. They each tell me every single day how much they love me. There is no better reward than that.

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    1. Love the qualities that you mentioned, and I've always believed that a mothers love should be unconditional at all times.
      It's also hard to live up to someone else's expectations but I'm sure or should I say hope that her disappointment has now turned into something wonderful after seeing how you turned out, and how you raised your own children. Also, has your mum ever read your blog? Because that's a great success! - just a wild thought. Thanks for your comment Menopausal Mama.

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  3. The qualities of a good mother varies from woman to woman. For me it's about being present and consistent. Also to teach, nature and to give them the tools needed to become successful human beings and to always let them know that they are loved.
    In the future, I don't expect recognition for the things I've done over the years but I would like to feel that I was appreciated.

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    1. Nurturing your kids and providing them with the best tools in life is a good thing. Because it is our children that will be running this world when we are all long gone. As children become adults most recognise all the sacrifices their parents made for them and regardless to where they are in the world, they always try to make the effort of a phone call, a card, a gift, a visit etc... Thanks Lily.

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  4. I have a very close relationship with my Mum, I live with her and my husband and even though most people think this is extremely weird it really works for us. I love her with all my heart as my Mum and she has been my rock throughout my life, there for me every step of the way (I honestly think she and my Nana were the only people that loved me in my family) Also she is my best friend, if she wasn't my Mum I would still just love being around her, she is full of fun and love. My husband Carl feels the same and has a great relationship with his mother-in-law (which people still find hard to believe)

    I have had problems though with Fathers Day, he has never been around and I have never experienced 'parenting' from him. I have no idea what a Father should be or do. I am looking forward to Mother's Day very much and a chance to give her some pampering :)

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    1. To be honest Jade, what a lovely set-up. To think that as a family everyone gets on well enough to share a house long term is a good thing. You mother raised you, nurtured you, cared for you, and you are in a very good position to take care of her within the same environment, should the need arise.
      It's a great shame that your father has missed out on all of this. I've always believed that these men - wherever they may be right now - have deep regret in not keeping in contact with their kids.
      I hope you pampered your mum greatly on Sunday, she deserved every minute of it.

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  5. I am mother of three children , they love me , and I love them. I just want to see them happy always in present and in their upcoming life that's all . I never expect any thing from them.
    I am trying to fulfill all my duties towards them and they say that I am a very good mother .
    I think those words are enough for me .GREAT POST MY DEAR FRIEND.

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    1. Aunt Mary, it's a lovely feeling to hear your own kids tell you that you are a good mother. Most children may not remember all the hard work that took place in the early stages, or the sacrifices some have had to do, but nonetheless, they recognise you for who you are today. I'm sure you are well chuffed every time you hear those words.

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  6. We celebrate mothers day in May here in South Africa. But celebrating along with you I will give some insight into my relationship with my mother. She died back in 2005. We unfortunately did not have the best relationship and I often regret not being closer to her. I could give you a thousand reasons why we didnt get along but in the end we probably should have both made a better effort. Being a mother is hard work - in fact it is the hardest job in the world and you are responsible for making your children into the best they can be. And as much as I hated my mom, I turned out pretty good and I think it has helped me to be an amazing mother to my children.

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    1. Now that's what I like to hear Lanthie. Regardless to what anyone including your mother may have said to you, you did your best and turned out well. I was reading your latest post and can see that even your own children are doing very well too. Not bad for a woman who didn't get along with her own mother, so well done

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  7. I think the most important thing my mother ever told me was that time will pass regardless of what you do, so you might as well do what you're procrastinating about.

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    1. What a wonderful, pragmatic, practical approach! It's like she's saying give it a go, you have everything to gain. As Dr Pepper says, what's the worst that can happen? Thanks Kellie.

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  8. I'm sorry you don't have a good relationship with your mother. I can sense your pain in that paragraph, or maybe acceptance? Either way, brilliant post. The most important thing my mother has said to me recently was "I'm proud of you". My parents were not overly warm individuals when I was a child, but they've softened as they age. I am grateful to have a wonderful relationship with my two children, especially my daughter who is sixteen. Not many mothers of teens can say that and it is something I treasure.

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    1. Michelle, 'I'm proud of you' - what precious words that a daughter can hear from her own mother. I don't think they just softened up, I believe that over a period of time they could clearly see that you was coping with what life threw at you, and there came a time when they had no choice but to let you know how proud they were.
      And keep up the tight relationship you have with your 16 year old daughter, these are crucial years in her life, which will have an effect on her when she gets older.
      I have for some time accepted the non-relationship I have with my mother. There comes a time when you have to say 'enough is enough', then move on with your life.

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  9. Hey Buddy... Never anything "Light" from you... Ha!!! Another great Post to make one think. Geeeeeeeeez.

    Very interesting in reading the other comments and what everybody has to say.

    When I think back on both of my parents (that I lost some 20 years ago), I can't help but think of the overwhelming love they each gave me and as I got older, they each knew how much I loved them back. Although I can't pick out one sentence from my Mom, I can say that She & my Dad instilled in me a sense of Family, of love, of doing the right thing, a work ethic, and Church, etc.

    I agree with some others above that say: They don't expect any acknowledgement, but it is nice when it does come. I go out of my way to acknowledge my wife, a Mother of 3, on Mother's Day.

    My heart aches when I read of others that maybe did not have what I had. I have two Son's myself and they are such good people. I am truly Blessed.

    Another good one... Take care, Slu

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    1. I'm glad that as a husband you also take the time to acknowledge your wife and her family too. If I was to sum up one of the key principles of Mother's Day it is gratitude, and you seem to be well into the spirit of this, Stu. Good on you, mate!
      When you truly think about, you are also showing your own sons how to treat a woman as they see you as their role model. Thanks Slu.
      I thought this topic was 'light' :)

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  10. Hi, I totally forgot about Mother's Day. Well my mom lives out of state. But she did so much for me and my daughter. So it is a very important holiday to me. And my daughter always loves to get me a card on this special day. While I'm here, I'd like to let you know I have grab my buttons on the bottom right side of my blog. They are there in case you or anyone else wants to paste one onto their website. That way you can get to my blog much faster by going through the button. Are you going to make one for your blog?

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    1. Now that I've reminded you Susana, make sure you put the date in your diary so that you'll be prepared to pamper your mother when it comes around in your country. I'm sure you and your daughter will think of a really nice surprise for her.

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  11. We celebrate Mother's Day in May and it's a special occasion too just like Christmas. Speaking of my mother, She never had formal schooling or training. She never had a great career / job. She never earned a huge sum of money. She never learned to use the current technologies that we have today except for radio and TV but one thing I'm sure, she knows very well the language of love. She's very simple, caring and loving mom. And I'm truly grateful for that!

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    1. Ah, that's one of the best ingredients you can find in this world. LOVE. You can be rich, poor, working, unemployed, educated etc but with LOVE you have something that is worth everything else, put together and multiplied by 1000. Mothers that give this enrich the lives of their children more than anything else. Thanks for you comment Ric LifeNCanvas.

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  12. My parents are, I guess the best word to describe them is, scientists.

    They are Archaeologists, Palaeontologists, and some other "gists" that elude my memory.

    They dig, recover, and dust shards, and if they are lucky a complete amphora.

    A dig, tell, or whatever the name of an excavation, it is no place for babies, so I spent my babyhood, my childhood, my "teenhood", and some other "hoods" on the hills of the birthplace hamlet, while my parents went on digging and finding wonderful things to understand ancient humankind.

    It was not difficult because Grandma was a great cook, and Grandpa is a philosopher.

    As my parents are on the move when they are not digging and I copied their ways about being on the move, Father's and Mother's Day are a cultural thing with different dates.

    For all these things the answer to all your questions is N/A. :)

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    1. So, from you comment would I say that Grandma and Grandpa had a huge part to play in your life too. Many people have such fond memories of what their grandparents did for them, and in some occasions they totally raised them for whatever reasons. I hope you celebrate your grandmother every mother's day! Thanks for sharing Od Liam.

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  13. I just want my son to be happy and be able to provide for himself. It's his life. I just provided him with some of the tools.

    As far as my mother is concerned, we had difficult moments. At one point, when my son was young, I hit a wall with her. I felt that she was too controlling. So, for several years, I didn't speak to her. One day, I realized that my mother would never change and if I wanted her to be in my son's life, I had to accept that. I did and resumed our relationship. Surprisingly, when I accepted her for who she was, she started to change.

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    1. You've got a good heart to give your mother another chance after not speaking to her for such a long time so that your son could be in her life. A good heart. I would have done the opposite because I wouldn't have wanted a controlling type person to poison my son's mind, but it turned out very well for you. And maybe she actually saw that you were not that bad person, so she then changed her own ways. A risk that paid off and maybe something we should all think about.

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  14. My mother dies when I was 23 of liver cancer. I still feel guilt for leaving to go away to school for six years. Maybe I would not have gone had I known.

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    1. Sorry to hear about what happened to your mother Blue Bead. With hindsight it's always easy to say I should have done this or that, but in reality we really don't know what's around the corner. I can't see anyone blaming you for any decisions you made at the time without knowing what was going on. And even if you did know, the fact remains that you made a sound decision with the info you had. I'm sure that your mother would have been proud of the achievements you made throughout life. Thanks Blue Bead for sharing your views so honesty.

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  15. I wonder how are you able to cover up or innovate I must say, every current issue, occasion, or questions every time so punctually. For me it becomes damn difficult at time. Moreover, I'm not able to find out time from my college. But, you are "punctually awesome EVERY TIME".

    Mom! I just want to answer to the last and most important question you asked. YES. Mom needs an appreciation. She is the one who who is never judgmental about you. For once may be the closest person in your life would judge you, but not her. And she accepts you the way you are, forever. And God has gifted the feeling of motherhood to every female creature on the earth. Not necessarily when a women gives birth to a baby, she becomes a mother. She has that feeling within her for the every person she raises, love and nurture! I'm yet to marry and become a mom. But I can say that, cz I have that feeling within me for the every kid I've seen. That feeling of selflessness coming automatically into me. May be I inherited it from my mom. :)

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    1. You may think I'm punctual every time in regards to topics, but it really isn't like that behind the scenes. Wish you could see the stress, the over-thinking, the analysing of myself, and the critical thoughts I have just to write a post. Fun, but not always.

      Mums are role models for every daughter, be it good or bad. It seems that the selflessness traits have rubbed off on you, and that's a good thing Esabella. Thanks for sharing your views.

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    2. Your blog has always reflected the profound thoughts of yours RPD, so no doubt you must be working damn hard on it. Or I should say you are natural in it. Either ways, you always put up a great post. Even when I don't comment, I thoroughly enjoy reading it. :)

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  16. Greetings friend and greetings to all those fine folks who have left a comment.

    I would have arrived earlier, however, being a multitasking kinda' guy, I got somewhat delayed. Ah yes, Mothering Sunday and a rather difficult time for me. For my mother lives in Vancouver, Canada and I live in England. Yet, the support, encouragement and inspiration she provides me through the most daunting times has helped keep me going. Of course, I wish her a happy Mother's Day twice a year. What with the one in North America, being in May. My mother, so far apart, so close together.

    Incidentally, I am a single father. My son's mother is very much in the background and I've basically taken on both roles. Single dads don't get the recognition they merit. I'm glad you asked that question. As per usual, you have published a most thoughtful posting. I'm grateful for that and to know your good self.

    And good that you used the power of verbalisation. I'm wishing you well.

    In kindness,

    Gary

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    1. Gary, single dads are not often spoken about like the single women are, and they do a marvellous job raising children sometimes in a much more stable environment than some women. And, they don't get enough recognition for what they do.
      It's good to know that you embraced this role and are doing a damn good job, especially during your illness. Many people would have given up but you've persevered and resilient comes to mind.
      I'm also so glad that I found your blog as it addresses mental health in it's real state, that most would shy away from, and it does so in a way that is raw and fresh.

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  17. I am crazy close to my mother. Her key qualities are that she loves me unconditionally, she has a wicked funny sense of humor, and I trust her. I know she would never steer me wrong, and even though I am an "adult" I still go to her for advice. The one thing that is great about my mother, and probably why I trust her so much is because she has never told me what to do since I was really young. She would offer advice, but then let me make my own decisions. I don't know how hard that has to be on a parent, but I do feel that when you put that faith in your child, then you tend to get it back.
    The deepest thing my mother preaches about is honesty. She believes that any problem or obstacle can be overcome if you are honest, and are willing to work at it.
    If my mother is having a good day I will take her out to lunch, or order something in if she is having a bad day (FYI not until May here).
    Best memory of a mother's day was when I was 19. My friend was living with us for a time because he got kicked out of his place. Well my dad called me to say he would be late, so we were to keep my mom occupied while he finished up at work. So all three of us proceeded to get ridiculously drunk by the time my father showed up at the restaurant bar. I think it was the first time we ever drank together, and it was so funny. Embarrassingly the next day I was hung over, her not so much.

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    1. You've always spoken of your mother very fondly, so I'm not surprised in what you have said. It's a good learning curve that a parent gives advice then allows the child to choose what they want to do because in a way she is allowing the child to make decisions and take responsibility for their decisions should things not turn out the right way. I like it because it's also a way of turning a young person into an adult.
      I bet your dad was fuming when he arrived to see the young ones with his wife a little worse than wear, ha ha ha ha. Thanks Jamie.

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  18. I have two mothers: My step mom and my birth mother. Both of them I love dearly and have been instrumental in my upbringning by it was my step-mother that raised me. I often struggle with the conflicting feeling of love and anger toward my birth mom for not being around as much as she should have.

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    1. That's honest, and as someone once said, the opposite of love isn't anger, or even hate, but indifference. Your anger shows how deeply you feel about how she should have been there. So it's not so much of a conflict - though I do hope the two of you can resolve the past and move forwards together.

      Thank God for your stepmum too, who stepped in and played that role. Perhaps it says even more about her as a person because you weren't her biological child, so to speak.

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  19. My mother, perhaps the most important person in my life, She raised me showing me all of her love she sacrificed her own life and offered it to my brothers and me every single day of it, and for that I'll be eternally grateful to her ...will not say much more Just a happy mothers day to all the mothers out there.

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    1. Sacrifice. Such a powerful word. I think you've hit a real nerve there Hotei. Giving up on one's own life and future to help another is one of the essences of motherhood. I'm moved by your words, I can't imagine how your mum must feel to hear them.

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  20. Hello R.P.D. ,
    I have nominated your wonderful blog for YOUR BLOG IS FABULOUS AWARD!
    Congratulations!
    The best part is that it has no rules attached to it. You can check it out on my blog.
    easyway1234.blogspot.in
    Thanks.

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    1. Oh Thank you so much Aunt Mary, I'm gonna have a look at your blog right now. No rules? Now that's good because 99% of the awards I've received always have rules that I'm not able to abide by. I truly appreciate you thinking of me. And I also appreciate all the other bloggers who have nominated me for several awards during the past year too. THANK YOU

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  21. I'm never really sure how to feel about Mother's Day.
    I could say so much about this, especially about the things that had the deepest impression on me or about the worst memory, but then my comment would become way too long.
    What I wanted most when I was a child was for my mother to love me, it's the one thing that I always desperately wished for during my entire childhood. That's why I promised myself, besides other things, to make sure that my children (if I ever have any) will always know that I love them, no matter what. Of course there might be arguments or difficulties at some point, but I will never ever deal with them the same way my mother did (I'm sorry if this sounds like a disrespectful thing to say).

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  22. Not disrespectful at all. You spoke honestly as you saw it without mincing your words. You always know that you have a space here to explain yourself, so don't worry about the length of your comment as I know you will stay on point.
    I'm also gonna send you a private message via BC in the next few days.

    Sorry your experience has not been as positive as many of the other bloggers, but, as I hope you realise by now, you're not alone. It's good to hear from you again Kleopatra.

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  23. My mother is not graduate from elementary school, but she can understand me well. He is full love

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    1. Welcome Komarudin and thanks for your comment.

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  24. I adored my mother. I don't think an unpleasant word ever passed between us. She was the quintessence of kindness, so cheerful and always so easy to get along with. I learned from her example how to live simply and quietly and joyfully, and that how one treats others is more important than any personal ambition or material success. I think about her every day, so in a sense every day is Mother's Day in my life.

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    1. From what I have read about you via the many discussions on BC, you seem to have developed her good traits, and that's why a mother's role is so important in our lives. I'm glad that you experienced such a beautiful time with your mother, as there are many who had the opposite experience. And now, the things you were taught can be passed on to many generations after you. Thanks NP.

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  25. I love how your posts make me think. I think as children, some of us, think our parents are super heroes. They can do no wrong and everything they say is golden.
    As a teenager, I found out my mother was/is a real person and has faults like the rest of us. I don't knock her for it; I'm glad I was able to make the realization so that I am able to accept her for who she is and not some facade are parents appear to be. I love my mother because of her selflessness and her dedication to do the best she knew how. My father on the other hand...

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    1. You have a point Kissa, in realising that your parents are fallible like everyone else, so they do make mistakes. It's a good way to look at it, and it is especially during the teenage years that people come to this realisation. It's also good that you now recognise what she had to do in order to raise you, as it's not always easy being a mother and juggling the things in life. Thanks for your comment Kissa.

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  26. I wrote a post about my mother last year for Mother's Day, and one thing that always sticks with me is how she neverrrr let me wear makeup. No matter how much I begged. Now, I hardly use the stuff & truly appreciate the way I naturally look. Can't help but wonder if that was her intent all along. Nice post! :)

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    1. Nice to hear from you Disa. I will in no doubt check out your Mothers Day post too. I prefer women to look natural but I have never been able to understand why some women wear natural looking make-up to look natural!
      Anyway, your mother has saved you thousands of pounds (£s) buying that stuff in the long run. I nearly passed out the other day when I say the price of lipstick whilst in the chemist.
      Thanks for stopping by to leave a comment and hope to hear from you again.

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  27. I have two favorite mothers in my life. One is my mother and the other is my wife, the mother of our six children.

    First, my mother. She is the mother of eight children, of which I am the oldest. She and my father separated before I was a teen. I saw my mother work from sunrise to sunset to provide for us. She never complained. She just kept on giving. I normally invite her to dinner on Mother's Day along with my other favorite Mother, my wife. But at 74, she has been passing on the invite lately. I along with my brothers and sisters give her money every Mother's Day.

    My wife is amazing. She has so much patience not only with our children but also with seemingly everybody. I am convinced that mothers are wired in a special way. They love unconditionally. Three years ago, I bought her a new SUV, but normally, we just go out to dinner. Sometimes, I throw in a surprise gift as well.

    Nice post, and God bless the Mothers out there.

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    1. I can just imagine how much work your mother had to do with 8 children on a daily basis. The cooking and laundry alone is enough hard work, not to mention all the other chores and not forgetting all the lessons in life such as discipline, showing them integrity, honesty etc. All of this without a man to continually support her whilst you were still young. I'm glad that you all get together to give her money Frank, so that she can buy herself something nice of her own choice, and she knows that you are all thinking of her on that special day.
      Despite your father leaving I'm glad that you were committed to your wife and children and didn't follow in your fathers foot-steps, as some men take on their father's traits if you know what I mean.

      I also loved how you mentioned your wife too. Being a preacher's wife is not an easy task. Not only does she have to take care of her own children (which will be scrutinized by the whole church) but she has to set a motherly example for the church too.
      Loved the SUV gift, she deserves it and I'm glad that you take the time to spoil her. And thanks for thinking of all the mothers out there too :)

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  28. Hi Rum-Punch Drunk. Just read your Mother’s Day post (which I had not seen before). I sincerely admire your ability to be so honest and forthcoming about the emotional and physical abuse you suffered at the hands of your mother, yet you turn every negative thing done to you into a positive life lesson. To do that takes an incredible inner strength and fortitude! Having had a bad childhood myself, I understand, my friend, I truly do. Thank you for sharing the post with us.

    To answer your questions: The topic of motherhood is a difficult one for me to approach. As I have written in previous posts, despite all my efforts, I didn’t get to be a mom and it’s still a painful issue for me. And my own mother suffered from bipolar illness. She was a distant and distracted mother, and she was physically abusive too. But like you, I try to focus more on what I have learned from that childhood. I will honor my late mother by writing a post on Mother’s Day, which is in May here in the U.S.

    The most important thing my mother said that left an impression on me? "You make your bed, you sleep in it." In other words, accept your lot in life, it is of your own making.

    The worst moment I had with my mother? When I was little girl and she’d go into fits of rage, grabbing me and my sisters by the hair, pulling our hair, dragging us across the room and banging our heads together. The best moment? When she taught me how to make her Sicilian spaghetti sauce. She was a good Italian cook.

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    1. I too admire the way in which you open your heart to others through blogging. I hope that having so many listening and sympathetic ears is a comfort to you in some way.
      Perhaps also, in spite of all the terrible things your mother did, it may not have been entirely intentional, as you said she was suffering from a mental health condition, which is often too much for people to fight. Underneath it all, and I'm only guessing, she might have had a true mothers love eclipsed by the illness.

      Through all of this, you've seem to have grown into a balanced, warm and positive person.

      I don't want to abruptly change the subject but I have to admit I am wondering what your mothers homemade Sicilian Spaghetti Sauce tastes like.. Italians never mess with their food......yummy.

      I will definitely be reading your Mother's Day post in May and make sure that you leave a link of that post in the comments section regardless to what topic I am writing about in May, so everyone else can pop over to you and have a read JerseyLil - don't forget.

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    2. JerseyLil has now written a wonderful Mothers Day post and I hope everyone takes the time to check it out and also read, comment and follow her blog as JerseyLil really has a way of engaging the reader with well written posts:

      Carmela, A Mothers Day Remembrance

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