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Whether you’re 25 or 55, there’s one woman in your life who you might think you have pegged. But how well do you really know your mother? What questions would you ask her… if you could get her to answer honestly? We’ve asked some of our favorite Mamas for the questions they would pose to their own mothers. And whether the inquiries were good or bad… they gave us the truth. Happy Mother’s Day!
CEO – TodaysMama.com
What would I ask my mom . . . as I thought about this question, I wanted to be lighthearted, I wanted to be funny. Let’s be honest, I was a pretty easy, wonderful child to raise, and I can’t imagine I caused her much trouble, so what would I really ask her? 😉
And then this really heavy part sets in for me. It’s Mother’s Day — and something is missing. It’s my sister, it’s her baby, the girl we buried the first week in October 2008 after a brief but aggressive battle with cancer. I look around at the arms that are empty or mourning, like Maddie’s mommy, like Thalon’s mommy and yes, like my mommy, and many others.
It’s these people, their events, their stories, that have made us all pause in our children’s bedrooms, staring at them for just one more minute, paralyzed at the thought of losing them.
What I really want to know is not how my mom handled raising me, or how any other mom raises her kids, I want to know how one lets them go. No matter how old you are or how long you have been a mother, I want to know how.
When all is said and done, the greatest Mother’s Day gift any of us has ever received is the gift of these little people in our lives, however hard it is, for however long we get them.
"Sometimes when you pick up your child you can feel the map of your own bones beneath your hands, or smell the scent of your skin in the nape of his neck. This is the most extraordinary thing about motherhood – finding a piece of yourself separate and apart that all the same you could not live without." — Jodi Picoult (Perfect Match: A Novel)
So how, Mommy? How do you live “without”?
My mother had me at 19. She was pregnant and married all before she graduated from high school.
I’m a great deal like my father, and this drove my mother crazy, especially after they divorced. It’s been 20 years, and they still can’t be in the same room with each other.
If given the chance to ask my mother anything, I’d ask her, "Do you regret having me?"
It’s a hard question, but one that I struggled with for most of my life.
When my mother got pregnant at 18, she was forced to marry my father. It was not a good match. They stayed together for 11 years, only because of myself and my two younger sisters. 11 years was too long.
Determined not to make the same mistakes my mother made, when I found out I was pregnant at 18, I refused to marry my son’s father. For one, we weren’t ever in a real relationship. It was a college fling. A girl who’d been a bit too sheltered by her step-mother, away from home at college for the first time. For another, he wanted nothing to do with my pregnancy.
My life, so much the same as my mother’s in some ways, was so different in others.
But I know the answer to that question, because if my son ever asked me, "Mom, do you regret having me?" I could give him an unhesitant, wholehearted, "No, you were the best thing that every happened to me."
Production Editor – TodaysMama.com
My mom and I are really close, so there’s not much we don’t talk about directly. And, like most moms, mine is pretty free with her advice and words of wisdom. Still, there are some things I’ve never asked (of if I did, wondered if she could be honest with me or herself).
Were you ready to be married when you did so, at age 19?
Do you think you’d be a different person if you’d waited until you were older?
Do you regret staying home with my brother and me, and not returning to work or school?
Do you regret any of the advice you’ve ever given me?
Why did you pretend to like my old boyfriends, even though you were clearly glad when they were gone?
Have you and Dad ever stepped close to divorce?
Why don’t you wear sunscreen?
Why don’t you shop for yourself?
How do you continue to love and trust people when so many have hurt you in the past?
What is the exact recipe for your homemade chicken-and-noodles?
I’ve often wondered whether my mother’s career choices, which were shaped by motherhood more than ambition, have been fulfilling.
As an accomplished costume designer and a PhD in theater history, her path could have been in show business or academia. However, knowing that a private school education for her kids was otherwise out of reach, my mother took a job as an over-credentialed high-school drama teacher at a local prep school.
My father was also a PhD, and could have done something similar. But he was older, had tenure, and was published. By contrast, mother’s academic career was interrupted by marriage and children, which signaled to prospective employers in academia that she was on the mommy-track. It would have been many years before she could have held a comparable position to my father.
After a few years as a teacher, my mother got a job in the school’s communications department and launched a new career in public relations. That lead to a Vice President position at a hospital, where she makes significantly more money that her peers in academia.
But would she have been happier in a job that allowed for more pursuit of her passions? As I consider my own professional life, I take to heart her sacrifice, knowing that I might make a different choice.
I’d ask why she made the choices she made in her relationships. It is because of her, that I have spent life clinging to relationships, even when I know that I need to get away. Fear of abandonment has ruled my life, and all because of my mother.
Why move across the country, marry at 19 and have me shortly there after, only to run back home within a year of my birth, blocking any ability for me to reach out to my father? You said he was a bad man, heavily connected to organized crime. That it was for my own good…now I am not so sure.
Why marry my step father when you had nothing in common? You resented it from the moment you walked down the aisle to “Let it Be” by the Beatles.
Why did you cheat on my step father with a family friend? Did you mean to leave the letters between you out for discovery? Perhaps that was for my stepfather’s benefit, and I was just hit with the shrapnel.
Why did you move across the country when I was 16 to pursue your career, leaving me with the step father who failed to ever say I love you, and refused to look at me as his own, despite raising me since I was 3. I felt abandoned when I needed a mother most.
Why do you now boast that you don’t believe in marriage, it’s meaning or lack there of.
I am angry. I am hurt. I am confused. You showed me how to fear love, clinging to any attention a man will give, and to accept emotional abuse. I ask you at 38… is this the legacy you wanted to leave? I’m only thankful I was an only child.
If I could ask my mom anything and get a truthful answer, there is only one thing I think I’d ask, “Mom, what would you have changed or done differently in your life?” Growing up she always told my sisters and I that we should, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Meaning of course, in her own way, to not follow the path she took. She chose marriage right out of high school, babies very soon to follow, no college, and a life of working hard to make ends meet. Oh how I respect her for all she’s done and sacrificed for us girls.
As a mother myself now, I understand why she wanted different for us. I’m sure that life could have been much easier on her if she’d chosen a different way. Even so, I can almost here her arguing, “But I wouldn’t have had you and that makes it all worth while.” I’m sure that would be her response, because it would be my response to my own daughter. So, thank you mom, for all that you’ve done and continue to do to shape my life.
Editor – Smart Magazine
What questions would I ask my mom if I could get her to answer truthfully?
Well, since my mom and I talk almost every day, sometimes twice a day, there’s not much I haven’t asked her.
Plus, we’re a lot alike.
Neither one of us can sit still for more than five minutes.
We both get headaches.
And, someday, I’m sure that I’ll have some killer menopause.
But, we’re also very different.
Appearance-wise, she has skinny legs, which I covet often.
She also has more patience than me, can do almost anything with her hands and can cook some of the most-mouth-watering food ever tasted.
I, on the other hand, hate to wait, can’t hem my own pants and often burn toast.
Sometimes I wonder if my lack of domestic skills disappoint her, but I don’t think it does.
If there was one thing I could ask her, that would get a truthful answer, it would be: What can I do for you?
I’ve asked her many times if I can help with this or that. And she always says no. Or she mentions a project she knows I can’t do, usually because I don’t have time.
But she’s always willing to come to my house to watch my daughter or build a fence.
So, even though we talk almost daily, I still feel like I don’t do enough to help her out. And I would love to know what I can do for her that would make her life easier and happier.
Tags: From the Editors