To: Mothers from the Baby Boom Generation
From: Your Daughters of Childbearing Age
We know that you have a lot on your mind, what with your decimated retirement savings and wondering whether our Dads (or the men who have replaced them) have had “that talk” with their doctors that the commercials they play during Monday Night Football say are essential, but we have something to discuss with you.
It’s probably not fair to dredge up the past. Life is all too full of regrets and, now that many of us are mothers ourselves, we understand that guilt and “I should’ves” are all part of motherhood from the moment of conception. But, you take the bad with the good.
That’s what we really have to talk about. The good.
HOW COME YOU NEVER TOLD US?
You raised us to believe in ourselves. You raised us to believe we could do anything. It wasn’t your fault we ended up with eating disorders or fraught relationships with food. Those ballet classes were intended to make us love and trust our bodies. And all that encouragement to study hard and the stellar job you did at getting us to raise our hands just as much as – if not more than – the boys? That was an excellent parental accomplishment. You helped pay for college and you cheered us on when we pursued those advanced degrees. Heck, you were the ones who broke the glass ceiling that made so many of our academic and professional achievements possible.
But, in the midst of all that, how could you forget to tell us?
Did you want to save all the magic for yourself? Did our “do more, make more, compete more” society really convince you that keeping up with the guys at the office was more important than what you had done with your lives? So many of you pulled off the 9-5 gig and raised us, but you only really groomed us to take on that not-always-glamorous work world.
Moms, you taught us so much. We learned just about everything from watching you. But you kept your secrets, didn’t you? Perhaps it was the insatiable American desire to make sure that each successive generation has more than the last that made you mum (pardon the pun).
So, here we are in our twenties and thirties. Some of us have discovered the secret on our own, but many are still fumbling round in the shadows. Most of us have to get up awfully early to make the commute, you see. We have started sharing the the secret with our sisters, but a lot of us are still in the dark.
Those of us who are in the know do not want to cast blame. We just need help from you, the veterans.
You see, you never told us that motherhood was this incredible. You never mentioned what magic was sparked when you first looked into our infant eyes. You never described it as the greatest love story never told.
We are still traipsing around, many of us, thinking that pregnancy is something to be avoided at all costs. We spent our women’s studies classes becoming impassioned about our rights to go Planned Parenthood, but never about our rights to have midwives attend our homebirths. We have looked at those women with strollers and diaper bags as poor souls, cut off from the tribe of modern chick-dom, unable to pursue the dreams to do more, be more, achieve more that were instilled in us since girlhood.
You’ve loved us well, you’ve shared your beauty and strength with us, but you never really mentioned all that you must have received in return when we were curled up in your arms, dependent on you for every aspect of life.
Please, moms, no more secrets. Tell us the stories of our births and our babyhoods. Tell us that motherhood is an odyssey like no other. Tell us that it is just as valuable as all the stuff we have studied for and trained for. Tell us how we can be more like you, the mothers to us all. All of us are not destined to follow in your footsteps, but the world will be a better place if girls and women were raised knowing what bliss might be possible.
The Mothers and Potential Future Mothers of Your Grandchildren
Oh, shit, that one made me cry. Beautiful, Marisa. Thanks for writing/sharing it.
Mother – it’s the title I treasure most in my list of accomplishments in life! Thanks for the post.
My first thought was Moira is so fortunate to have such a loving mother.A mother’s love for her child is eathly Divine love. The power of that love never ceases to amaze and humble me, even more now that I am thrice blessed with two brilliant daughters and granddaughter.
This is absolutely beautiful. For the longest time I’ve felt this way, but have been unable to put it into words. Thank-you for giving me a voice, something I can share with my friends and younger sisters, who are chasing college degrees and corporate jobs that they think will fulfill them.
Dear Amy, You have given me the greatest gift I could have imagined by commenting on this forgotten post. I still stick by everything I said (and admit I am proud of getting it all on paper as the mama of a then two month old!). The most important thing: I never would have looked back to see the comment my mom left on this post if not for you. She died in July of 2010, and seeing what she wrote is like getting a love letter from the other side. Thank you, a million times thank you. — Marisa
Wow. I’m speechless. Thank-you for telling me. I am so glad that I left my comment now! I think that we often do little things in life that have a big impact on others, but they don’t tell us and so we never know about it. I’m really glad to know that doing something so simple and so “random” has given you this gift. 🙂
Always listen to that precious voice, Amy – Always! Thanks again! ❤