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Friday, May 8, 2015

Motherhood from Many Perspectives...

I am so lucky in that I have a lot of amazing mamas in my life. From friends, to sisters, to mothers, to grandmothers, the mamas nearest and dearest to me range in age and personality and there's a little something to learn from each and every one of them.

For Mother's Day this year, I decided to ask some of the important moms in my life the same five questions. I assembled a panel of sorts that consisted of the following:

-my older sister, Jess, a thirty something mother of four (Hank, 5, Gus, 2, and the newest additions to our family, the twins, June and Dylan, 4 months). Jess spent her twenties and early thirties working in advertising and marketing and has recently taken on motherhood full time because, well, that's what you do when you have four kids under the age of 5!
- my own mother, Penny, a sixty something mother of three girls who in a former life was an elementary school teacher, but has devoted herself to being a stay-at-home mom ever since my older sister was born. She now lives in Scottsdale with my dad and is an animal mama to two cats and a dog.
- my husband's mother, Nini, a fifty something mother of two (Grant and Victoria) who has owned and managed a wide variety of her own businesses, most recently an adorable shoe boutique in Laguna Beach called Tootsies. She lives in Dana Point with Grant's dad and we see them both often when they come up to LA to get their fix of the boys (we call ourselves lucky to have built-in babysitters, Nini and Pa have somehow tricked themselves into thinking they're lucky to have the weekly responsibility = win-win!).
- Nini's mother and Grant's grandmother, Myrna (who we also affectionately call Mother Myrn or GG for Great Grandma), a seventy something mother of three (Lisa, Nini and Shane) who had her kids young (she was done with her child bearing years by the time she was 23!) and spent her working life as a public school teacher. She now lives in one of my favorite places, Angel's Camp with Grant's grandfather, Olie (or G Pops).
- Grant's other grandmother, Shiffy (or the other GG), a ninety something (but swears she isn't a day over 39) mother of four (Leslie, Mark, Darryl and Nancy) who spent years at a time raising her brood as a single mom while her husband, Grant's late grandfather Lester, was in the military. She moved up from San Diego a few years ago and now lives nice and close by in Northridge.
- and then of course, there's me - a thirty something mother of two (Hayes, 4, and Greyson, 17 months), who works in experiential marketing and lives in LA - but you already know all of that, I hope, since you're a devoted reader of this blog!

I picked five questions that I thought would provide an insight as to what kind of mothers each of the women on my panel were. Everyone's at different life stages, everyone has a slightly different parenting style and I respect each and every one of these women immeasurably. I've included my responses to the questions as well, so enjoy!

Q1: What is the best piece of advice you've received as a mother?
(Jess):  "Sleep begets sleep!"
(Penny): "Be happy, enjoy life and don't take things too seriously. It is a new experience to be a mother and have to take care of a new wee one and none of us are perfect, but you will be a great mother who will love your children always."
(Nini):  "This one is tough but I think probably most important is to be as consistent as you can and follow through."
(Myrna): "Go with your instincts. Trust yourself. If it doesn't feel right, don't do it...I think it's super important to learn about child  development so you understand what he/she is capable of..."
(Shiffy): "Be patient and listen, listen, listen!"
(Chanel): "Everything is a phase. Choose your battles. And remember to breathe."

Q2: What has been your favorite part about being a mom?
(Jess): "Watching my kids grow into real little people with their own personalities and interests has been amazing. Seeing their relationships with each other develop is also one of the most rewarding and entertaining experiences of my life.
(Penny): "I have enjoyed every moment of being a Mother; watching all of you growing up at each stage and wondering what was going to happen next, or what thoughts were going to come out of your mouths next. Never a dull moment! It is also fun to see how all of you have grown up to be loving parents."
(Nini): "My favorite part is that it keeps going and changing/evolving. The relationships are constant for life but different and sometimes surprisingly so and you get to add in new relationships (daughter-in-law and grandkids)."
(Myrna): "My kids have given me great entertainment and joy!! Also wonderful to watch them parent."
(Shiffy): "Knowing I have healthy, smart kids, who do exactly what I say ;-)"
(Chanel): "Having a front row seat to their childhood and watching them discover and interpret daily things that we might take for granted or not think twice about has been fascinating. They make me laugh everyday and I love being one of the people that they count on to make things right - I love feeling legitimately needed in their life."

Q3: What have you found the most challenging about being a mom?
(Jess): "Always having to put my needs behind those of others has been really hard at times.   It's been a challenge to remain patient and loving and reasonable when I'm tired, stressed out, hungry and (insert any other basic need here).  Sometimes I don't succeed at doing it and the feelings of guilt and failure that come along with that are hard.  It's also a challenge to not be too hard on myself :)"
(Penny): "I would have to say that I just loved all of you as little girls so much. It was a big shock when the teenage years began and I wondered what I had done wrong. These were certainly the worst years for both your Dad and I as we were so concerned about you making the proper friends and not getting hurt emotionally or physically. You, too, will no doubt, go through this stage."
(Nini): "The most challenging would be that you have to develop different parenting styles depending on the needs and temperament of each child."  
(Myrna):  "The relentlessness of being responsible for their care is mind boggling!"
(Shiffy): "Knowing how to keep them safe and healthy and always being there for them, which I know I wasn't."
(Chanel): "Remembering sometimes that they are little irrational people who can't be reasoned with and keeping my cool in trying situations. And if I don't handle a situation the way, in hindsight, I think it could have been better handled, feeling guilty about that. It's also been challenging to be the bad guy; to discipline and say no and be the voice of reason - I hate to disappoint them."

Q4: If you could wish for one thing for your children, what would it be?
(Jess): "Good health always."
(Penny): "I hope and wish that each of my girls find their true love and friend to live with and raise their family and hope they all live a healthy, happy and worry-free life with their loved ones."
(Nini): "The most important thing that I wish for my children is an "inner strength" to be self-fulfilled, strong, happy, kind and peaceful." 
(Myrna): "One wish would be that they have great physical and mental health!...Luck is good too!"
(Shiffy): "I wish them good health, contentment, goodness and unlimited wisdom."
(Chanel): "Beyond good health, which should always be #1, I wish for them to have the freedom to be whoever they want to be and the knowledge that I will always be there for them."

Q5: What question would you ask your own mother?
(Jess): "What is the moment you were most proud of me?"
(Penny): "I wish I had sat down and spoken to my Mom a lot more to learn more about her family life, her feelings, her opinions. I would have enjoyed listening more to her experience of married life and having her family. She was a wonderful person and a great Mom and I didn't know if I ever made her feel that way. I miss her every Mothers Day."
(Nini): "I can't think of anything I would want to ask Myrna that I haven't already asked her." (how's that for an open and communicative relationship?!)
(Myrna): "My mom's been gone a long time and my "issues" long resolved... I guess I'd just like to know if she's having fun!!"
(Shiffy): "If you knew my children, what score would you give them?"
(Chanel): "If you could change anything about your life, would you?"

This Mother's Day, I sadly won't be with my little guys - Grant and I hopped on a plane to Miami this morning and we'll be spending the weekend partying in the city where the heat is on at a friend's wedding. But I'll be thinking about the two little people who call me mama, along with all of the other mom's in my life - and will raise a poolside mojito in their honor.

Happy Mother's Day!

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