Mothering the Mothers by Deb Jenny

The idea of Mother’s Day is great in theory, though I’ve discovered in reality it’s not one that is so readily implemented. it seems that the boundaries of a give-mom-a-day-of-rest holiday for mothers aren’t exactly highly regarded in the fast-paced play-all-day-and-all-night world of kids athletics. Most Mother’s Days for me have meant traveling to yet another city for yet another soccer game—not exactly the type of R&R day I’d schedule if I was planning one. Aside from that, my youngest has a birthday that often coincides with Mother’s Day, so prior to the soccer commitments on that holiday, we usually had birthday-related festivities—whether her actual birthday fell on Mother’s Day or her slumber party, which meant ten to fifteen exuberant little girls waking pre-dawn on Sunday morning for a hearty pancake breakfast.

So I guess to me Mother’s Day isn’t really much of a big deal—which is fine, really, especially since it feels a bit like a construct of Hallmark Corporation, kind of like Valentine’s Day. All souped up to force needless greeting card acquisition.

By the time I get around to having the chance to celebrate it in the manner in which it was intended, my kids will be grown and gone and then I’ll be sad I don’t have any kids home for Mother’s Day anyhow. Instead I’ll simply mourn the loss of those things that kept me from having a chill-out day in May. Plus by then I won’t need a chill-out day in May!

But with Mother’s Day upon us, I’ve been pondering moms a lot and thinking about the importance of moms not to our children, but to each other. My novel, Sleeping with Ward Cleaver covermed.jpgvery much appeals to moms, as they can relate to my protagonist Claire Doolittle, who is at a phase in life in which she is entirely overwhelmed with the demands of motherhood, trying to do her best but feeling as if she is failing everyone miserably. Most moms can relate to this. When my children were very young I, like so many other mothers, found solace with other women who were raising little ones. Not many moms can honestly say they haven’t reached the breaking point a few times along the way. But I suspect that those mothers who do so have been able to lean heavily on their friends who are in the same boat.

I recently happened upon the wonderful internet world of mom blogs sort or circuitously because of my book. An author friend of mine who hosts the very popular and often hilarious Manic Mommy blog suggested I check out a blog titled June Cleaver Nirvana, what with the Ward Cleaver connection and all. When I visited the blog, I was delighted to discover this community of really funny, interesting women who share their ups and downs on a daily basis via their linked blogs. From my friend Holly at June Cleaver, I then discovered other really interesting folks, like Kalynne Pudner, who besides having nine (count ’em—NINE!) children holds a PhD and is a professor of Philosophy at a major university. I’m still trying to figure out how she finds the hours in the day to do all of that. I also discovered a blogging dad who’s a delightful writer. Or how about these Good Moms/Bad Moms?

Way back when, when people weren’t so transient and neighbors stayed put and most moms didn’t have jobs outside the home, these social/coping networks remained close to home. The moms assembled in someone’s kitchen for coffee or tea, the kids played out back or in the living room learning how to parallel play nicely with one another, and as long as there wasn’t free-flowing blood, everyone was happy and the moms got a chance to decompress alongside their “fellow travelers,” as it were.

But with the many societal changes over the past couple of generations, while friends and family are often strewn more far afield, we now have the means of communications at our fingertips to remain more instantly in contact. Thus while the kids (well, siblings, anyhow) might well still be in the backyard or the living room (until the blood-letting happens), the moms are in e-contact, touching base about their lives and sharing the good, the bad and the ugly with one another via the blogosphere. It’s really the “coffee klatsch” of the New Millenium. The crazy component of it is that these gatherings become open invitations to others—complete strangers like me!—and a way to make friends you’d never otherwise know. And what a great way to connect people from all over the country, really all over the world.

I can’t wrap up a discussion about moms without talking about some moms who so amazingly define the word motherhood I don’t think there are words to describe them adequately, and women who I know would be about the best moms out there, if given the chance. I’ve had the great pleasure to become friends with author Kim Stagliano over the past few years as we have both worked in fits and starts to progress in our writing careers. The thing about Kim is she’s got a hell of a lot more responsibility than do I when it comes to mothering, as she is the proud mom of three girls with profound autism. But never does Kim complain about this situation. She handles it with grace and humor and incredible aplomb, and if you’ve never had the chance to read her blog you should check it out and also check out her observations on life as a mother of kids with autism on Huffington Post in which she writers extremely poignant, insightful and painfully honest commentaries about her world. Her girls have the world’s best advocate on their side; they are some very lucky children. And to those of my girlfriends out there who were denied that golden ticket to motherhood, it’s a damned shame as I know you’d be amongst the best of the best.

Mothering is beyond question an extraordinarily rewarding experience. Not a moment goes by in which I don’t feel especially privileged to be the parent of amazing kids. But I’d be lying if I said there haven’t been those times in life in which a lifeline to sanity wasn’t something I desperately needed. Especially back in those sleep-deprived days of yore. And were it not for my network of mom-friends, I’d have probably been carted off in a strait jacket on more than one occasion. So to all of my mom-friends, those I actually physically know, and those I e-know, I wish you all a peaceful and pleasant Mother’s Day, complete with little to no bloodletting.

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((¸¸. ·´ .. ·´Jenny G. -:¦:-
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14 thoughts on “Mothering the Mothers by Deb Jenny

  1. Great post – Jenny. Happy Mother’s Day to you and all the Moms out there. I really don’t know how you do it (literally). I am mom to furred and feathered creatures and it’s almost more than I can handle some days – and I don’t have to worry about college admissions, teenage pregnancies, or the neverending chauffeur duties.

    Kudos to MOMS!!!

  2. Happy Mum’s Day to you. You deserve a good pancake breakfast- one where they do the dishes at the end too!

    I think your book would make a great mom’s day gift. Well, not for you- you’ve read a few zillion times I’m sure- but other people!

  3. Thanks Eileen! If only SOMEONE had thought to put it out on those very expensive “Great for Mother’s Day” displays at the bookstore…I agree with you!

  4. This was a great piece, Jenny. See the real mother’s day is MONDAY after mother’s day when they all go away and leave us be. I have a new mother’s day ritual though- and that is MOM DON’t COOK! One year I actually got a little miffed (if you can imagine) at my clan for not planning dinner as ordered, so I flounced off to get chinese food, and that was so heavenly thats what we do every year now! YAY!!

    Happy Almost Mother’s Day, and with that I get Eggrolls. :~) Suz

  5. Thanks, Jen – you’re too kind. Every year I secretly wish for one thing… The day alone. In my own house. All day. Alone. By myself. Did I mention alone? Sigh…. I love being a mother, don’t get me wrong. But 24 hours in my own house? Better than, well, the thing that made me a mother! 🙂

    Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms, someday Moms, chose not to be Moms, would have been a Mom, used to be a Mom (never forget women who have lost children, their anguish pales compared to mine) and for the sake of equality, the Dads who act as the Moms too.

  6. Happy mother’s day, Jenny! And you’re so right about the internet being a fantastic way for moms to connect with one another. (Writers, too! :))

    I hope you get some time to relax and enjoy the day. And here’s hoping you get those pancakes (or some Chinese food…whatever the case may be).

  7. Isn’t it so funny how it can be such a small world when it comes to this big old internet thing!?!? I just love it!

    Happy Mother’s Day, and remember Jen, MOTHER’S ONLY HALF A WORD! hahahahahahahhahahahahahhahahaha.

    Do you know the other half???

  8. Wow, I miss a couple of days on my handy-dandy Google Reader (final exams, bah), and here I have a shout-out from my favorite Famous Author! Thank you! And Happy Mother’s Day at the Soccer Field from another at another 😉

  9. Love the title, Jenny, Mothering the Mothers since I have often wondered who mothers the mothers? Sweet tribute!

  10. This was very sweet and thank you for the mention. I long for the days of moms gathered in kitchens holding coffee cups while contented children play underfoot. But today it is different. If I found a group of women who could meet at a certain time, someone would have to run off to do something or it would have to be scheduled months in advance which kinda ruins the whole calm scene. On my street I am the only stay at home mom. *enter internet* once again moms are clutching coffee cups and sharing experiences. It isn’t perfect, but it certainly decreases isolation. And as you and I have figured out–it can be placed on hold for life to happen…

  11. HRH–it is so sad, isn’t it? When we lived in DC when my kids were little, it made me so sad (and I felt isolated) because I too was the only mom home with my kids in the daytime. The neighborhood was clamped shut–garages doors closed, doors locked, no sign of humanity to be found.
    We were lucky when we moved away to a smaller town and found an amazing community and really did get to enjoy community in the flesh. But without that, the e-world is a really nice Plan B, isn’t it? Plus that added bonus of expanding our horizons well beyond what our grandmothers could EVER have imagined.

    Kalynne–I’m hoping you can avoid all soccer on Mother’s Day. It’s only fair!
    Manic–you’re a sick woman 😉
    Kim–I hear ya==I remember times when I longed to sit in a strange locale, like a Greyhound Bus Station, if only to seek solitude (well, disregarding strange vagrants nearby). Amazingly then one day you discover you’re not so needed anymore–I think even with you this day shall come. And you’ll be shocked at how quiet the quiet can become.
    Jess–thanks for the pancake/chinese food wishes!
    Suz–might take your Chinese food cue. I like that idea! All the other restaurants are too crazy busy on MD, aren’t they?
    Bookworm–we can suggest a few fabulous books to while away your limited hours as mom/book lover 😉

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