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What About This Mothering Thing?

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I am a mother. I have 3 little people. Two daughters and one son; ages 9, 7 and 5 respectively. I have a mother, and I have a mother-in-law. I also still have a living grandmother.

So what is a mother? If we refer to the dictionary the definition is concise –  a ‘female parent’.  But how do we do it and what are our expectations of being a mother? What about having a mother? Surely it’s more than being a female parent.  It’s about the nurturing, the teaching, the sharing, the guidance and the companionship. There are many books about just the issues of how to be a better mother and how to deal with the position of being a mother.

As a mother myself, I feel a huge weight of responsibility on my shoulders to guide my girls, to support them, and to be there for them. I am conscious of setting good examples but with joy and positive gratitude.

With this onus on me, how do I feel about being a daughter and how do I feel about my mother? I don’t think about it all the time, but I know there is an underlying current to my parenting, a desire to make it better for my girls than it was for me. Now I am not talking about when I was younger, in primary school, and I am not saying I had a bad childhood. I had everything I needed physically, went to great schools, had good friends; but something is missing in my relationship with my mother. I don’t really remember advice, guidance, talking about things that mattered to me. I guess I only remember discipline, doing the right thing, and not doing that, that and that… if you get my drift. There was never any inspiration.

I always thought I should have been born into an Italian family, surrounded by lots of family members, aunts, uncles, cousins; eating, sharing and laughing, supporting; daughters, mothers and grandmothers cooking together and hanging out in the kitchen… And, I guess, I waited for that to happen in my own family. But it never did. I realized only last year that it never would. Yes, I can create that from here with my kids and hubby, but part of me is sad that I don’t have that support, love and friendship from my mother.  I am sad that she isn’t the ‘grandmother’ I know my kids would love. I also understand that I cannot make her be something that I want either. I cannot say that there is anything I feel that has been passed down from grandmother, to mother, to daughter. It’s all disconnected. Sometimes I actually feel like I am the mother and she is the daughter.  There is a lack of positive energy there and a placing of her burdens onto me. I find it draining and exhausting, instead of easy and comfortable. I wonder if she feels the same about me?

It’s not always perfect this life, and the ‘community’ essence is absent from our culture. We don’t embrace the ‘tribal’ women’s network that exists in other cultures. But in our current generation, we do talk more, we do communicate in lots of different ways, and that’s a great thing. We are aware and we are open, there is a positive vibe.

So while I am now at peace with my daughter/mother relationship, I am excited about my mother/daughter relationship with my girls. I am amazed all the time when I look at them, and see the woman growing inside them both. They are so totally different, and they both deserve to see their lives with fresh eyes, without my prejudices and judgments,  but with my positive energy that says anything is possible and they deserve anything and everything they wish for.

I love my girls, and I will always be there for them, in whatever capacity that may be.

About Sandy Dingwall

Sandy lives on the sunny Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, is a mum to 3 little people (9, 7 and 5) and is married to a creative type like her. She has worked and owned businesses in a number of industries – children’s publishing, franchising, bakeries, cafes, a local newspaper and most recently ran her own handbag business. Currently Sandy is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing and Publishing.

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