Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - May 12, 2006

Mother's Day advice

Ever since I became a mother, I've received all kinds of advice - from Mom, other women relatives, friends and magazines - on how to raise my girls.

When the girls were babies, people had tips on feeding, diapering, burping and dressing. As they got older, the advice advanced to how to potty train, how to handle toddler temper tantrums and how to discipline. When they started school, I heard about how to help the girls become more independent while being there to support them.

Each stage of their lives has presented me with certain joys and challenges. And each stage has given me the opportunity to learn.

When they were babies, I learned that the most important thing was cuddling. I had a framed poster of the following poem to remind me of that:

"Cleaning and scrubbing can wait 'til tomorrow,
for babies grow up, we've learned to our sorrow,
So quiet down cobwebs, dust go to sleep,
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep."

Those moments spent rocking were about the only points in my life when time almost stood still.

When the girls started exploring the world, I found that the most important thing was the dandelion or leaf or rock they discovered. That was when a simple thing could provide almost endless amusement.

When they started school, I learned that I should be involved - but not too involved - with their homework and other activities. That was when the concept of letting go really took hold.

Now that I have three teenage girls - 19-year-old college student Mariya, 17-year old "adopted daughter" Nadja and 13-year-old middle schooler Katie, I'm learning even more things. Oh, there are some frustrations with the girls' "teenager-hood" - lots of clothes and homework papers piled on bedroom floors, endless laundry, their ability to eat us out of house and home, and their teenage "angst" about boyfriends, girlfriends, classes and life in general.

But I'm enjoying this stage as much as - or maybe even more than - I did the previous ones. As the girls mature, I'm amazed at how they're developing and how they've expanded my world.

Mariya, who is majoring in art and women's studies at K-State, learned how to make metal jewelry this semester. One piece was a pendant symbolizing the "triple goddess" of maiden-mother-crone. I wouldn't know how to solder different metals together to save my soul so I thought it was cool that Mariya could come up with a design and execute it successfully. I also was fascinated to learn that the concept of maiden - young woman, mother - birth-giving matron and crone - wise old woman, dates from the earliest ages of civilization and also is ascribed to the three phases of the moon.

Nadja, who has almost completed her year with us, has been involved in track. Since I'm not an athletic type, I'm amazed that she can handle the intense practices and track meets and still maintain good grades. And all the while, she is going through a roller-coaster of emotions. She wants to go back home to Germany to see her family and friends, but she doesn't want to leave what she has here.

"From now on, you will always carry a piece of us, your friends here and the United States with you," I told her. "And a piece of you will remain with us."

Katie has been working on a project involving the ruins of Tiwanaku in Bolivia. But I was amused by something she told me that was far less intellectual: some advice on my fashion sense.

I was getting ready for an end-of-the-year banquet when she came into the bedroom.

"Uh, Mom," she started. "You're not going to wear that, are you? It looks so old-fashioned."

I had chosen a top and skirt I've had for at least 15 years.

She disappeared into her room.

"Here, wear my shirt. It looks sexier."

I paired her white shirt with a black skirt and had to admit that I looked pretty good.

So what would be my advice to mothers-to-be? Use common sense, be open to learn from your children and remember that there's no such thing as too much love.

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