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For the Love of Moms---Happy Mother's Day!

written by Thu Tran, MD,FACOG
on Friday, 8th May ,2015

Motherhood is a rewarding choice for many of us.  Motherhood, however, can be challenging, as a bulk of our adult life is spent taking care of our children instead of ourselves, a selfless act.  Children, as you know, do not stay sweet and fun all the time.  As they reach their teenage years, the yearning to be free from their parents, to define themselves, can turn them into rebellious, free thinkers who want to navigate their world in their own terms.  Yet, the transition into adulthood, as these teenagers are about to leave their home and finally be on their own, can be difficult for many mothers, or maybe all mothers.  The separation process, the letting go of these young birds into the wild, can be heart wrenching.  Most mothers seem to think only they can protect their young. 

This past weekend, my brother-in-law John stopped by the house to drop off a box full of items we had given over the years to my mother-in-law Betsy. This included a huge photo album she had made and expanded every time we sent her pictures of our son Sandy, from baby to toddlerhood.  We searched through this box and found a “Thank You” card from my mother to Betsy, for a beautiful scarf Betsy sent her one Christmas.  We found letters from Betsy to her children, and notes from Betsy to...Betsy.  The children in my husband David’s family are getting their items back, as Betsy no longer has space to store them.  She’s in an assisted living facility.  Besides, even if she had space to store them, she probably would not recognize many of these items, including the notes she used to write to herself, her inner thoughts.

Betsy’s mind has deteriorated over the last few years.  Without prompting, she no longer recalls the names of some of her grandchildren.  She has minimal short term memory.  She has been moved from her big home in Greenwich, Connecticut, to an assisted living home and, at this moment, is in a rehabilitation facility with around the clock care.  She is no longer a lively, active woman with sharp wit who read multiple magazines and books daily.  She had an intelligent sense of humor and used to tape the New Yorker’s witty cartoons on her refrigerator.

Betsy loved her children.  They were her world and she probably was a bit lost when the last one moved out.  Like all of us who have children about to leave our home and start their journey toward adulthood, Betsy was frightened for them.  The world, as we know it, is not getting kinder.  We see so many tragic events around us.  As parents, we want to keep our children within our reach, where we can protect them from the storms of life.  The internal conflict of a mother who yearns for her children to grow up and live a full life, yet having unsettled feelings about these birds about to flee their nest, can be seen in one of Betsy’s letters to herself.  On Mother’s Day, let us mothers pause and read Betsy’s note, and think about the natural transition of children into adulthood.  Her note reminds us how, of so many people we encounter in our lives, the bond between a mother and her children can never be broken. 


“Children.  I kind of guess that when they move from childhood to adults.  It is a grieving process, not only for the parents who have by this time “lost” their children, but frightening for the children as well.  They seem often not to be able to separate, all the while trying to do so.  Thus parents are angry at their children for growing up and children are angry at parents for not being perfect.  Complications are not wonderful but constant, with each child, ever there, and ready to explode.  The end is, hopefully, a good, non paranoid, clearly defined and diffused love...a new kind, from adult to adult.  The stages might never all be worked through.  Being aware of what is there and what is not, is, I guess, the most important starting or jumping off place.

From there to here is how it is.  What I am able to do is separate...from my incredible babies who, after all, are all gone.  What is there now are marvelous citizens who sometimes I like and sometimes I don’t. Long may they live happily and enjoy all the pleasures of their own children.  Tch-Tch, do you suppose that is a curse or blessing?”

Happy Mother’s Day!

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