Becoming My Mother - Not Such a Bad Thing After All

Tracy Odell

Meeting Grandson #1
Have you ever interviewed your mom?
I've had the idea to interview my mom for several years and finally did it last week. I wanted to record what becoming a mom was like for her and what motherhood means to her. We've had scattered conversations about the topics, but I'd never recorded her story in her own words. I learned  details I never knew. I cried a little. And, I'm so happy I did it.

I'm surprised by what she had to say, especially about what it was like to be a single mom in the 1970's and how she was taking care of her own mom along with me. Becoming a mother had already increased the respect I have for her (parenting is hard, yo!), but the interview raised this respect to all new levels. I'm in awe of what she was able to do and am so grateful for her dedication and love.

Here's what my mom had to say...

What was my birth day like?

The day of your birth was bittersweet.  To explain I need to go back in time a bit... Several years before your birth, my mother had been diagnosed with leukemia.  Four months before your birth she had a flare up and spent the next 13 weeks in the hospital.  Every day after work I'd stop at the hospital cafeteria to pick up dinner then spend the evening visiting my mom.  The weekend before your birth my brother got married and at 9 months pregnant I had to host the rehearsal party, which was exhausting. Then the day before your birth my mom was released from the hospital. We got her home and set up in her new living room bedroom, but she was still very weak and couldn't walk or take care of herself. But still,  she was finally home I was hoping I could relax a bit that evening.

But you had other ideas. Just six hours later you decided to make your way into the world.  I arrived at the hospital that evening at around 7 p.m., went through prep, and met with the doctor who assured me you wouldn't arrive until morning. But, several hours later you made your appearance with no doctor -  just a nurse attending.

You were so beautiful and tiny - it was a turning point in my life. I was now an adult with a tiny daughter relying on me and only me.
What was it like being a single mom?

Being a single mom in the 1970's was very different from being a single mom in 2010.  There was a stigma that you were a "bad girl" beginning with the first sign of your pregnancy.  Living in a small community, I had to go to a neighboring town to grocery shop because of  the ridicule I experienced in our town's grocery store. Some of my mother's friends even stopped talking to her and visiting her because they didn't want me being a bad influence on their families. But, I had a very supportive group of friends at my workplace as well as my family, who helped me through this most difficult time.
Deciding to raise you on my own was the only option I ever considered -- there were no other alternatives as far as I was concerned. I tried to raise you as normal as possible though I may have been a bit overprotective because of all the harrassment I went through during my pregnancy and I wanted to protect you from that. Your dad came into your life when you were about three so after that you had a two parent "normal" household to grow up in.

Holding Grandson #2
What are the biggest differences you see between parenting then versus now?

Parenting in the 70's and 80's was so much easier and much more laid back than today. I think I'm glad I had my turn back then.
During your childhood,  video games and computers were just beginning to make their way into households, so you played for hours with Barbies and My Little Ponies or in the backyard with all the neighborhood kids.  Today almost every child has their own computer and video games and they don't do as much imagination playing. It also seems like kids today expect parents to entertain them. I also think that today kids grow up way too soon and don't enjoy being a kid. They seem to be expected to know so much more just to enter kindergarten
How do you think I'm doing so far as a mom?

I think you are a terrific mom, when I watch you with your family, I get such a swell of pride at what a great mom you've become. Maybe I don't say it enough but I'm so proud of the woman, mom, wife, daughter and sister you've become.  I love you so much.

What do you want for Mother's Day this year? I need some gift ideas.

The thing I want this Mother's Day is no different than what I want every day of my life.  I want my children and their families to be healthy happy and living the lives they've always dreamed of. Just seeing her family thriving is all a mother needs .

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