My mother would have called herself a traditional wife and mother — those being the most important roles she saw in her life. She never worked outside the home after having children, she always had dinner on the table, packed brown bag lunches and was a constant presence in the house. We all just assumed that Mom would be home at all times we were home, keeping an eye on us. Thinking back on it, she must have done a multitude of errands to keep a family of five functioning — I just have no recollection of any hustle and bustle and comings and goings.
Never once did we have takeout. We never even had a crock pot meal.
She also wrote three books, the community newsletter for decades and was the best editor I’ve ever had.
My mother probably would not use the term feminist to describe herself, but I would. She believed herself the equal of everyone, never backed down from a discussion no matter how accomplished the opponent and taught us we could accomplish anything we set our mind to.
She was also astoundingly disciplined and perpetually perplexed that none of the rest of us, including my father, understood the importance of rigor.
I loved my mother deeply, but often found her edicts rigid, even pointless. However, decades into my own life as a parent, I often hear myself repeating her pieces of advice (without irony).
Things my mother used to say that I find myself saying:
- Don’t yell my name — if you want to talk to me YOU come find ME.
- If you’re not going to be home for dinner you need to let me know at least two hours in advance.
- Plan your weekend in advance so you can be the first one to request the car.
- Plan everything in advance.
- I know you don’t want to do (insert chore here). Put on some good music to help pass the time.
- Never wait until the last day to meet a deadline. You might get the flu.
- You need more structure to your day.
- Don’t say you don’t like (insert sibling name here). You have to love each other.
- Being a mother is a full-time job too.
- This is not a made bed.
- Get dressed every day, even if you’re sick.
- Are you going to throw away all that food?
- If it’s bad weather avoid the highway.
- Let me know as soon as you get there.
Then there are the things my mother did that I should probably adopt:
- Have salad at dinner every night.
- Have three square meals a day, light on meat.
- Seldom watch tv.
- Read voraciously.
- Don’t gossip or snoop.
- Be frugal.
- Assume all homework is getting done appropriately unless otherwise informed.
- Read all sections of the newspaper every day.
- Run three miles every day.
And then there are the things she didn’t tell me, but seem like things she knew. I figured these out on my own:
- You will always worry about your children, no matter how old they are.
- It’s always awkward to talk to your children about sex, but it has to be done.
- You will always want to drop everything to come to your child’s aid, but sometimes you should hold yourself back.
- Petcare duties are never shared equally. Know that before you adopt a dog.
- Assign chores and then avoid the temptation to micromanage.
- Family dinners are the most important part of family life. Have them as often as feasibly possible.
— Julia Wilson
In Julia Wilson’s life, she has been a reporter and editor, then did a 180 and became a practicing lactation consultant, and now is delving into writing. She also has a parenting blog, justjugglingitall.com.