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I'm Still Their Mother

TALKING TO MYSELF: 10 MAY 2013     "I'm Still Their Mother," was the first Mother's Day column I wrote for The News-Herald eight years ago. Odd, I think now, that I chose to write a piece about myself for the holiday, and yet, who is better qualified to ponder motherhood than a mother? Eliza is twelve now and still asking questions that delight and stump me. My three daughters wrestle with issues that get harder and harder as they move into the fullness of their adulthood. Mother is gone, but her voice lingers within me, mostly reminding me that love trumps answers. 

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 I am still their mother.  Imperfect as I am,  uncertain of my own way in the world, often ornery of soul, whining and shallow  in spirit – I realize that I am still their mother. 

My babies are long grown.  They are strong, young women now at 28, 30, and 33.  They have degrees greater than mine, knowledge wider than mine.  They have gone places I’ve only read about.  They have responsible jobs, performing serious work that affects the well-being of others.  They have husbands and children and lives that whirl outward from mine in circles that reach to the moon and back. 

And yet, I am still their mother.  They call on the cell phone while I’m stopped in traffic and ask if it’s okay to eat mushrooms that have turned brown, or how to remove a chocolate stain from a child’s cotton dress.  Do I like this name for the new baby, and by the way, who am I voting for in the presidential election, and why, Mother?  Can you tell us why?  Oh, that has ever been the question they have put to me. 

And they go on.  They did this to so and so in that situation, and, Mother, was that the right thing to do – the kind thing – the moral thing?

And I hesitate.  I want to be careful.  Influence such as this cannot be abused.  What I want to tell them is that I don’t know many answers, that mostly what  I’ve learned in life are the questions.   Oh, yes, I have the questions memorized – but the answers are more slippery.  In the multiple choice tests of adulthood, I usually go with answer “b” I try to tell them.  But then sometimes “a” seems more right than “b,” and once in a while “c” has felt better.  Once I even chose “d.”

And so we talk through the long nights, through the years, on cell phones and around their kitchen table or mine, and in the car as we dash from here to there – and I know I’m still their mother.

Just as I am still daughter to my own.  When dreams are dashed, when illness strikes, when the tedium of daily responsibilities pounds me into dust on the floor – I turn still to my eighty-something mother with questions.

The other night, my four- year-old granddaughter, Eliza, asked me earnestly if dinosaurs had tonsils.  She needed to know, it was apparent, before she could lay herself down to sleep.  I wanted to laugh, and I wanted to cry, because I could tell that “I don’t know” was not what she wanted to hear from me.  Finally, I gathered the courage to give the only answer I had to offer. 

“I ‘m not sure, Eliza, but maybe we can work together to find out.”

So here we stand. Four generations of females linked in love through lifetimes of questions.  And the occasional answer.

©Copyright Georgia Green Stamper