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Thoughts on Mothers and Mothering

May 8, 2014

My 22-year-old son, Kevin, and I were watching Saturday Night Live together recently, just a few days before Mother's Day. During the commercial break he said, "Geez, why are there so many commercials about mothers?!!!" I looked at him and said, "Do you know?" He just gave me one of those "cat ate the canary" grins. No need for more words. He's a guy, after all. When it comes to communication, I've learned: less is more. Can't wait to see what he's cooking up for Mother's Day!

If you are a Mother, Happy Mother's Day. And congratulations for surviving the roller coaster ride. I had a chance to swap stories with other working Moms recently, as part of a "Mom Squad" interview for CBS-TV Detroit.

Mothering, as a single parent from the time Kevin was less than two, is -- without question -- the hardest thing I have ever done. It was truly the only really important thing I tackled that left me feeling as if I might fail miserably. But my son and I got through those "terrible teens" and I secretly smile at the man he is becoming. I have no idea how he will earn a living, neither does he at this moment.

But I have no doubt that he will be a wonderful man. Just as importantly, there is no doubt that I am a better woman -- a better human -- because of the rough edges he has steadily sanded off of me. And there is no better balm for decades of battle scars from the gender wars than an adorable little boy -- even on those days when they're no so adorable!

These are the days I also think about my own Mother, Isabel Molloy Doyle. She was a woman ahead of her times. Highly-educated. Engaged in the world. A global traveler. Politically-informed and active; she ran for County Commissioner in her early 70's. And she raised her seven children in the 1950's on carrot juice, brown bread, brewer's yeast in our pancakes, and handfuls of 500 mg Vitamin Cs for our colds.

But her biggest gift to me and all of her children was her COURAGE. Isabel Doyle modeled for us how to confront authority in an effective, credible way. She did it with doctors, teachers, priests, strangers and, of course, her life partner! It was an incredible feeling to know she had your back. But she wasn't one to defend her children at all costs. We'd better have told her "THE WHOLE TRUTH" before we asked her to take our side! This is a picture of my older brother, Danny, and me with Isabel a few years before the rest of the clan arrived. I think it was a Father's Day present for our Dad.

I hope Mother's Day brings up great memories of the ways your own Mother -- and YOU -- valiantly struggled to do one of the toughest jobs in the world. Here's my favorite quote on the challenge: "Becoming a parent is one of the scariest things you'll ever do. It's a decision to spend the rest of your life with your heart walking around outside your body."

Happy Mother's Day -- and Hang in There.  It's worth it!  Anne

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