The Planted Row: Motherhood is a beautiful thing

Stan Wise
Farm Forum Editor

My mother grew up in some rough neighborhoods, and her parents didn’t always make the best decisions. She had to get tough very young.

Her version of mothering meant keeping a clean house, putting clean clothes on her kids, cooking three balanced meals per day, and making sure we did our schoolwork.

And that was about all she had time or energy for. She was busy with finishing her college education, helping out on the farm when needed, and then working as a teacher once she finished her degree.

Tending to the emotional needs of her children was not a major concern. If I hurt myself on the farm, I was told, “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.” If another kid was mean to me, her sage advice was, “Don’t get mad. Get even.”

My mother lived the example of hard work, and she certainly made sure I learned the lesson of self-reliance.

My parents divorced when I was 14, and I lived with my dad after that. By age 16, I’d almost forgotten what it was like to have a mom, and I remember being confused when some of my friends would back out of some planned activities and gave the excuse, “My mom doesn’t want me to do this.”

I didn’t understand it. If I wanted to go rafting, I went rafting. If I wanted to learn judo, I learned judo.

Moms could set guidelines for their sons, and those sons would follow them out of respect for their mothers’ concerns? Weren’t moms just supposed to keep you alive until you could look after yourself?

For a long time, I didn’t give much thought to the institution of motherhood, but when my wife and I had kids, my views on mothers changed.

My wife watched our children closely, so much more closely than I did. As soon as a problem arose, she noticed it and got them the help they needed. Sometimes that meant taking them to see a specialist. Other times it meant gently encouraging them to talk about something she knew was bothering them.

And our children have responded to this concern. They discuss their thoughts and worries with her. They make plans for the future with her. They play games of chance and strategy with her. They look to her for book recommendations. When they have a problem they can’t solve, they usually turn to her first.

My wife has focused on giving our children opportunities to grow and convincing them they can meet the world’s challenges through education and hard work. By taking an interest in their lives, she has made herself a partner in their growth and success. That relationship won’t change as the kids grow older and leave home.

My wife has shown me that motherhood is so much more complex and beautiful than I had previously realized. It makes me proud to be her husband and to help her celebrate Mother’s Day.

If there’s an excellent mom in your life, take a moment this weekend to let her know how special she is.