I suppose — and I hope — everyone has a warm place in their heart for their mother, or for the memories of her. The extent of the influence my mother had on me is hard to comprehend. She was the rock of our family. Both of my parents worked hard all their lives to provide for the family, but, when I look back, the hours my mother put in were nothing short of incredible. She was constantly working.
I was probably 8 or 10-years-old when my oldest brother, M.H., who had been in the Navy and returned to live at home, brought a TV into our home. I think it was a Muntz, if I remember correctly. Of course, it was small and black and white, but it was still a marvel. My mother would not spend “idle” time sitting and watching the TV. Oh, she would watch it, sometimes, but she always had something in her lap that she was working on. If she wasn’t making or mending clothes, she was knitting. If she wasn’t peeling a big pan of apples to cook, she was crocheting.
I always sought her approval for any new endeavor or change in my life. My bride and I dated for about a year and a half before we married. When I had saved up enough money for a tiny engagement ring, I let Linda help me pick it out and try it on, but it wasn’t official until I told my mother what my plans were. Her words have never left me: “Well, son, if that’s what you want.” And that was her approval.
After almost 13 years of marriage, I went to tell my mother some more big news. Her youngest child and his bride were going to be parents. By this time, of course, my mother had lots of grandchildren. And there had been many years of questions from older siblings about why we didn’t have children, but no words like that were ever spoken to me by my mother. Her acknowledgement and approval of the big news were exactly the same as they had been 13 years previous: “Well, son, if that’s what you want.”
What she was saying told me she cared most about the happiness of her children. It was fine to get married, if that’s what you wanted, and if that would make you happy. It was fine to have children, and a wonderful blessing, if that is what you wanted, and that would add to your happiness.
Parenting is one thing that has changed a lot since my parents’ day. But, it also can be said, that it hasn’t changed at all. How many times have I heard my contemporaries say that they are so glad they are not trying to raise a family today, with all the “stuff” that is out there. They say they just couldn’t do it. But, at it purest level, the role of being a parent will always be the same. You want what is best for them, and you want them to be happy with their decisions, the big ones and the little ones.
As for me, I am doubling the size of my raised bed vegetable garden. My seed potatoes are cut and waiting for the ground to thaw. I’ve got two lawn mowers that need my attention and I have to find, cut, split and stack my firewood for next winter. And I know as well as anything, that if she were here, my mother would say, “Well, son, if that’s what you want.”