Tag Archives: Mother’s Day

Job Description of a Mother

by Kassandra Lamb

Motherhood is probably the most difficult job any woman ever attempts. And yet most of us take on the job with little foreknowledge of what we’re getting into. So I thought I’d come up with a job description, for those who are considering applying.

woman being interviewed circa 1940s

I don’t recall being interviewed for the job (public domain, Wikimedia)

General Description of Duties:
Applicant will be charged with the care, guidance and training of small creatures who have no means of communication, no control over their bodily fluids, and no initial understanding of danger, morality nor the needs of others.

Applicant will be on duty 24/7, year in and year out. (If applicant has a partner helping with the job, occasional short vacations may be possible.)

Additional Duties:
Worrier—Applicant will be required to ruminate frequently about whether or not her charges are safe and are receiving optimal care. This may involve lost sleep.

Nurse—On occasion, applicant will be required to stay up at night and/or stay home from other activities (no matter how important) to tend to sick charges. This may also include cleaning services when bodily fluids become involved. Treatment of minor injuries may also be required.

Dietician/chef—Applicant will be required to plan and prepare nutritious meals and snacks throughout each day, 365 days per year (except during those brief vacations if her partner is willing and able to take over this duty; otherwise, meals may need to be pre-planned).

Chauffeur—Applicant will be required to provide or arrange for all transportation of her charges to multiple locations, including but not limited to: school, athletic and social activities, medical appointments, and the emergency room.

mother with daughter's dolls, having a tea party

One of those other duties: playmate (which may require acting skills to pretend dolls are alive)

Counselor—Applicant will be required to provide guidance and emotional support to her charges, although they will often be oblivious to her emotional needs.

Any other duties that may arise (which may be substantial).

Skills/Talents Required:
At least a basic understanding of childhood diseases, first aid, nutrition, child development, psychology, and conflict mediation (if there is more than one charge).

Unlimited patience and the ability to function on minimal sleep.

Infinite quantities of unconditional love.

Compensation and Benefits:
Applicant will receive room and board (which she may have to help pay for).

No sick leave is allowed. Full retirement is not possible; semi-retirement occurs whenever the last of applicant’s charges leaves the domicile. Many daily duties will no longer be required, but worrying will continue until applicant’s death. Also, applicant may feel obligated to lend or give money to her grown charges at times.

homemade Mother's Day card

No monetary compensation is given; however, applicant will receive weird little homemade presents and cards and lots of love from her charges. She may possibly someday be rewarded with grandchildren.

And by having her grown charge admit to her: “This parenting thing is really hard, Mom! How’d you do it?”*

(*My son’s exact words when his first child was three months old. 🙂 )

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY from all of us at misterio press!!

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological mysteries, set in her native Maryland, and a new series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, set in Central Florida.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

7 Very Important Things My Not-Very-Healthy Mother Taught Me

by Kassandra Lamb

Waterolor beautiful girl. Vector illustration of woman beauty salon

This post is part of the Beauty Of A Woman Blogfest V sponsored by one of the most beautiful women I know, inside and out, August McLaughlin. And because she so bravely shares of herself to help and inspire others, I’m going to be a little more revealing in this post than I might otherwise be (no, not that kind of revealing; get your mind out of the gutter 😉 ).

And since this coming Sunday is Mother’s Day, I decided to talk about my mother.

I’m sure I’m not the only sixty-something woman who’s had to grow past the not-very-healthy role models presented by our mothers and the mixed messages our generation received about what it means to be a woman.

My mother was not a very strong person, emotionally, and she was a product of her time, coming of age in the 1940’s. She codependently let my father do whatever he wanted, in the interests of “keeping the peace” and “staying together for the sake of the kids.” My father wasn’t a bad man, but what he wanted was often misguided and almost always self-centered. He unintentionally caused his family a lot of pain, and she let him do so.

But putting aside that major flaw, my mother was a wonderful person in a lot of ways. And she taught me several valuable lessons. Some of these she taught me directly or by example, and some I learned by witnessing her bad example and doing the exact opposite.

1. She taught me to make the best of a bad situation.

Not that I would stay in a bad marriage like she did, but she showed me how to look for the way around obstacles without butting your head against them.

I didn’t appreciate this lesson for many years. In my youth, I tended to follow my father’s obstinate head-butting style.

His style of dealing with problems at work got him fired or “asked to resign” from so many jobs I lost count. Her style was to smile, make friends with, and eventually cajole her rivals into seeing things her way. As a result, she rose to director/dean level at the college where she worked, and she did so after having spent the first two decades of her adulthood as a stay-at-home mom.

2. She taught me to smile.

My mom laughing

Not in a false or fake way, but to genuinely be cheerful even if life isn’t completely going the way you would like it to.

I look back now and realize that much of what allowed her to be so cheerful was downright denial. But nonetheless, I grew up with a mother who often had a smile on her face.

She had a good sense of humor, which to some degree skipped a generation and showed up again in my son. What a delight it was to watch them interact!

3. She taught me to talk about my feelings with my friends.

I didn’t get just how miserable she was in her marriage until I was about fifteen years old. Gradually, during my teen years, she and I shifted from mother and daughter to friends and confidantes.

Looking back, I realize it wasn’t very healthy for a woman to share with her daughter how unhappy she was with the girl’s father. But in this case, I found those revelations validating. It wasn’t my imagination that my father was hard to live with.

When we went shopping, we’d sometimes pretend to be sisters. We frequently bought things (well, she paid for them), coats or pieces of jewelry, that we would share. I still have one of the pendant necklaces we bought on such an outing.

Was this a sick blurring of boundaries? Definitely. But this experience taught me to open up and share when I was hurting, something that would serve me well for the rest of my life.

I’m especially grateful for this lesson when I see female friends struggling to ask for what they need emotionally. The misguided message of our youth was that women should always put others first, which often translated into believing we were not worthy of support ourselves. But I learned, through my mother’s example, to ask for support.

4. She taught me to love shopping, and to cherish a bargain above all else.

shopping mall

A shopping mall at Christmas time was heaven for us! (photo by BazzaDaRambler CC-BY-2.0 Wikimedia Commons)

Seriously, retail therapy is almost as good as the best counselor out there! (This coming from a retired psychotherapist.)

But my mother was very frugal. The only thing better than finding the perfect purse, dress, sofa, drapes, etc. was finding it on sale, with an additional X percent off.

One of the items we bought and shared was a pair of earrings that were little shopping bags, with “Shop Til Ya Drop” on the sides. I wonder what happened to them…

Today, shopping for clothes or pretty things for my house is preferable, of course, but I even find grocery shopping or running to Home Depot for bags of mulch a reasonably pleasant experience.

5. She taught me to be a good mother-in-law.

Unlike all too many mothers, she was not the least bit jealous of nor negative about the girlfriends and boyfriends my brother and I brought around to the house. She welcomed all of them–the sluts and the nerds, and the sweet girls and nice guys.

And she welcomed the people we married into the family with open arms and a generous heart.

Thanks to my mother’s legacy, it wasn’t hard for me to realize what a wonderful person my daughter-in-law is.

6. Ironically and indirectly, she taught me to put my child first.

wailing newborn with his grandmother

My newborn son (36.4 years ago) with his grandmother; he’s wearing a sleeper that says #1.

At some point in my adulthood, she told me that my brother and I were the best things that had ever happened to her. Not an unusual admission by a parent, but it actually surprised me.

Why? Because she had thrown us under the bus with my father more than once.

Her own father was a well-meaning but spineless man, addicted to get-rich-quick schemes. He couldn’t hold a job (sound familiar), and finally my grandmother tossed him out on his ear. (She was a strong woman.) My mother was twelve at the time.

For the next decade, she received eloquent letters full of empty promises (we found them in her papers after she died). But she saw her father rarely, and then not at all.

Her desperation for a man who would actually be there in her life was so great that she would do anything to keep her man, including ignore the damage he was doing to her children.

My son and I lock horns occasionally. (We both inherited a trait from my father that my mother called stubbornness. I prefer the term determination.) But when my son really needs something, I will drop everything to be there for him and his family. I surprise even myself sometimes by the ferocity of my reaction when he is in need.

7. She taught me to be strong and independent.

Again, not by being a role model for those traits–she was anything but those things–but she gave me permission and encouragement to be confident in myself. My stubbornness frustrated her when I was a kid and a teenager, but later she admitted that she was pleased to see how strong and independent I was. She was proud of the adult I had become.

And for all her flaws in raising me, once I was an adult, my mother and I were best friends. She’s been gone for thirteen years now, and I still wish I could pick up the phone and call her to talk about whatever’s on my mind.

I love you, Ma! Happy Mother’s Day!!

Please head over to August’s website to find the links to the other posts in this blogfest about the Beauty of a Woman. Some of the posts are serious, some are fun but all are interesting and well worth your time.

How about you? What did your mother teach you, for better or worse, about being a woman? (Note: I will be traveling this week, so there may be a delay in responses to comments.)

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological suspense series, set in her native Maryland, and a new series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, set in Central Florida.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

What We Put Our Mothers Through… Even Before We Were Born

by Kassandra Lamb

In honor of Mother’s Day, I thought I would share with you all some tidbits from two small booklets I found amongst my mother’s mementos after she passed away. I’m not real sure why she chose to keep them, perhaps for their comic value.

One booklet’s title is “Instructions for Expectant Mothers” and its pages are quite yellowed (circa 1948 when my brother was born). The other is called “Information for Obstetric Patients” and is not quite as yellowed (circa 1952 when I was born). Here are some of the pearls of wisdom doctors dispensed to their pregnant patients in the 1940’s to 1950’s:

Clothing:
“After the fourth month, all garments should hang from the shoulders, not from the waist. Specially designed garments will make your condition less conspicuous.”

THEN! (photo by by Bundesarchiv Bild,  CC-BY-SA 3.0 de, Wikimedia Commons)

THEN! (photo by by Bundesarchiv Bild, CC-BY-SA 3.0 de, Wikimedia Commons)

 

 

Not real sure how a tent with sleeves makes one less conspicuous but… (and don’t ask me why the woman is playing a clarinet in this picture; I have no clue).

 

 

 

NOW! (photo by Montse PB CC-BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

NOW! (photo by Montse PB CC-BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

 

 

 

 

 

 

More words of wisdom about one’s attire when pregnant:

“...If you have never worn a corset, you may not need one during pregnancy, especially first pregnancy. If you have any discomfort due to lack of support, you should wear a corset.

Wait a minute! Waistbands are verboten but it’s okay to wear one of these…

A maternity corset

A maternity corset (seriously, I’m not making this up!)

Sexual Intercourse:
“Sexual intercourse is permitted during the first 7 months of pregnancy, except during the time when menstruation would normally occur.”
(my emphasis)

Say what? Why in the world would you not be able to have sex during the time when you would normally have a period if you were not pregnant? This is in both booklets, with no explanation given. *scratches head*

Travel:
“Many women wish to know if they may travel to various out-of-town places. The answer is no, and if you go, you must be entirely responsible…Automobile rides on smooth streets and roads are permissible, but you should not make long tours even under the best of circumstances… It is not advisable for you to drive a car after the fourth month.”
(again, my emphasis)

“…you must be entirely responsible” – apparently doctors worried about malpractice suits even then.

Hey Lady, you better get out behind that wheel if you're over 4 months pregnant! (image from Dorothy Levitt's front piece to The Woman and The Car)

Hey Lady, you better get out from behind that wheel if you’re over 4 months pregnant! (image from Dorothy Levitt’s frontpiece to The Woman and The Car)

Gee, Mom, I’m really sorry about all that I put you through. In addition to those hours of labor, 2 a.m. feedings and rebellious teenage years, you had to wear a corset while pregnant with me, couldn’t drive, and still had to keep track of your periods even when you weren’t having them, so you’d know when you weren’t supposed to make whoopee.

Thanks for all the sacrifices you made for me!

(Btw, I seriously doubt my mother did any of those things.)

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms out there, young and old and in between!!

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

On Aging and Mothers

by Kassandra Lamb

Happy Mother's Day(We’re posting early this week, in honor of Mother’s Day)

Mother’s Day is a bittersweet occasion for me now. I only have one card to pick out — for the awesome mother of my grandsons, my daughter-in-law. My mother-in-law passed away a little over a year ago, and last month marked the eleventh anniversary of my mother’s death.

There are many pros and cons to aging. One of the pros, of course, is that it beats the alternative. 🙂

There are others: wisdom, self-confidence, no longer giving a crap what others think, retirement and the freedoms it brings. And, believe it or not, less fear of death. That’s right, older adults, in general, fear death less than younger ones do. (I’m not making this up, folks; studies have been done.)

Somewhere in your forties, the reality that you are indeed going to die someday reaches out and smacks you in the face. By your sixties — sometimes sooner — you’ve come to terms with that reality. I no longer particularly mind the idea that I’m going to die, although I do hope it won’t occur for many years yet. But my getting closer to death means that many of the generation that came before me have already died. That I do mind.

My mother lives on, however, in me. That’s one aspect of aging that I can’t quite decide if it’s a pro or a con. I’ve noticed as I age that I am more and more like my mother. I look in the mirror and my mother is looking back at me.

My mother loved to figure out what made people tick; I became a psychologist. My mother loved to write; I became a writer. As the old saying goes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

My mom laughingMost of all, my mother loved life. She loved to laugh and was quick to put a positive spin on things. I like to think I follow in her footsteps there as well.

She also loved to work jigsaw puzzles, as do I. I stumbled on this today, on Jigzone.com, a poem about mothers from Edgar Allen Poe.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!!

In what ways do you feel that you’re like your parents?

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week,  usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not harvest, lend, sell or otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses.)

A Mother’s Day Tribute to Strong but Conventional Women

A friend recently wrote a post about Gertrude Atherton, a strong and unconventional female author who scandalized 19th century society. I love such stories of women who defied the constraints of their era to live life to its fullest. But the article got me to thinking about all the strong but conventional women of the past who perhaps don’t get the accolades they deserve.

One such woman was Mary Amelia, who was born in 1898–around the time Ms. Atherton was publishing her most scandalous books.

Mary Amelia was the epitome of a strong woman. Not necessarily in the way we might define a strong woman today. Not kick-ass, go-to-the-gym-several-times-a-week strong. But she was emotionally strong. And she was my grandmother.

My grandmother (in the middle) in the conventional swimming garb of her era. Sexy huh?

She was the eldest child of a well-to-do Maryland family. Her father spoiled his beautiful wife. She loved babies, especially since she didn’t have to take care of them. (My guess is she loved the process of making babies as well, but folks didn’t talk about that back then!) So she kept popping them out, and when they were no longer little and cute, she turned them over to the servants to raise.

Then my great grandfather made a crucial mistake. He believed some guy who swore that the land in Florida he had for sale was prime real estate. Great-granddaddy sold his business, packed up his family and moved to Florida, only to discover that he had bought an alligator-infested swamp. (Yes, I am the progeny of someone who actually bought swampland in Florida! Not one of our family’s prouder moments.)

Great-granddaddy slunk back to Maryland and took a job as a laborer. With no money now for servants, my grandmother was pulled out of school at age 13 to take care of her younger siblings. Because heaven forbid her spoiled mother should have to change a nappie. My grandmother rose to the task (and until the day she died she was the matriarch of the family, even while her mother was still alive).

At 24, she was in danger of being an old maid when young “Buck” Roland (no pun intended; that really was my grandfather’s nickname) swept her off her feet. A few years later, she had her own baby, my mother. Unfortunately her new hubby was what they called back then a ne’er-do-well. He couldn’t seem to hold a job or keep a business going.  He was long on promises and short on follow-through.

Now up to this point, my grandmother had played by the rules. She was a conventional woman who tried to avoid those things that “just weren’t done.” But out of necessity she did something that middle-class, married women of her era just didn’t do. She got a job.

With only an eighth-grade education, she became a clerk in the payroll department of a Baltimore chemical company. This was back when credentials were less important than pure smarts and a willingness to work hard. She had so much of both of the latter that she advanced through the years, despite sexism, to the position of payroll supervisor.

In the meantime, her husband was making less and less effort to make a living, and by the time my mother was eleven, he’d given up completely. Women, no matter how good they were at their jobs, didn’t make much money back then. My grandmother realized she couldn’t support three people on her salary.

So she did something that “just wasn’t done.” She looked at my grandfather one day and said, “You’re just another mouth to feed. You need to leave.” And he did.

She never divorced him, however, because that just wasn’t done. And she never took off her wedding ring, even decades after he had died. She went by her married name and considered herself a widow.

My mother, age 14, with her mother.

She raised my mother, as a single parent, in an era that was not at all kind to single moms. And not only did she make sure my mother finished high school, but she pushed her to go to college. Also, somewhere along the way, my grandmother bought her own house. Even though most of her sisters, who were married, were still renting theirs. And in 1959, at the age of 61, she learned to drive, and bought her first and only car.

My grandmother, the proud owner of a spankin’ new 1959 Ford Fairlane. (Yeah, that’s me in the dorky little skirt.)

She used to scare the crap out of my parents. She would get on the Baltimore Beltway, pull all the way over into the fast lane, and then do forty miles an hour. She thought the two lines in the center of the road were for bicycles, and they changed from solid to dotted occasionally just for variety, so that drivers wouldn’t fall asleep staring at them (seriously; I am not making this up!) When my father explained that the dotted line meant that drivers could now safely pass, she just stared at him. She never passed anybody, but plenty of drivers passed her.

We joked about her strange driving habits, but we were actually quite impressed that she had tackled such a foreign activity in her sixties (which would be comparable to one’s eighties today). She lived on her own until the day she died, almost a decade later.

It wasn’t until a few years after that, when I was fully grown, that I realized just how strong my grandmother had been, in her own conventional way.

I’m far from perfect, but I do think that I’ve done her proud in the ‘strong woman’ category. Thanks, Grandma, for being such a great role model!

Have you known any strong and remarkable conventional women? Who has been your most inspiring role model?

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.

We blog here at misterio press once a week about more serious topics, usually on Monday or Tuesday. Sometimes we blog again, on Friday or the weekend, with something just for fun.

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