Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

Cape Cod

Mother’s Day musings…

1 Offspring. All three of our children and all five of our grandchildren will have made appearances at Casa Blanco this weekend! A rare and wonderful happenstance to mark this Mother’s Day.

2 Memories. 4 years ago yesterday we lost my father-in-law, about a year and a half after my Dad left us. November 2018 we said goodbye to my mother-in-law. That leaves our little family with one remaining parent, my Mom.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom! Let’s keep on getting to say that for a little while yet, OK?

3 Sandwich. As in Sandwich Generation, where Beth and I (and our siblings) find ourselves now. Sandwiched between our children (an in our case our grandchildren) and our parents. As my Mom will attest, you never really give up the mantle of parent until you give up your seat here on Earth. Most of the time the dialogue with your kids is mostly internal as they get older. At least until and unless they ask it is, if you are doing it right.

It’s the aging parents and our role in their lives that is the surprise. It’s always a surprise, no matter how many of your friends tip you off in advance. As the adult in the middle of life you are presumably still functioning fully, able to make reasonable decisions on behalf of yourself and anyone who needs you to do so on their behalf. An essential conflict looms when you, the sandwich child, feel that a decision needs to be made by your parent and they either don’t, won’t, or can’t come to a conclusion that you know is the right one.

Let’s simply look at the issue of domicile, where they live at a given time. No one wants to leave their home. Heck, the running joke around Casa Blanco is that I will have to be bound, gagged, and blindfolded so that I can’t find myself back to my little lakefront oasis when my time comes. Still, there comes a time when the home you’ve, they’ve known becomes the wrong place. The first move is obviously the hardest, but each subsequent move, while equally necessary, is not necessarily any easier.

Why hone in on this issue? The home, domicile? At pretty much every level where your parents live drives all of the “big” decisions that come next. My father-in-law Bob insisted that he be allowed to die in the home that had housed Hurst’s for some 4 generations. My Mom has remained steadfastly rooted in Rhode Island after (finally) leaving our ancestral home for a two bedroom apartment a quarter mile away. The reality is that older people get sick, and in so doing they require medical care. Neither Mom nor Bob had any family any closer than 2 hours away.

That makes it awfully tough for us, the sandwich generation to help out when the going gets rough.

There are no solutions coming from these quarters I’m afraid. Just a heartfelt shoutout to all of my brothers and sisters sharing this space between the bread. We all need to remember that the challenges we face are the table stake so that our Moms (and Dads) can still be in the game and “play” with us.

4 Mommy. What? You didn’t think I was gonna muse on Mother’s Day without actually talking about mothers, did you?

One of my favorite Mother’s Day stories doesn’t involve a mother at all. Years ago while I was in the process of getting my hat handed to me in a lawsuit about starting my business I became very friendly with the lawyer that should have been the lead lawyer on my team. He’d been through a very traumatic divorce and if memory serves he ended up with the kids. Might have been all daughters. He stepped off the law firm fast track to be home more, doing the parent thing by himself. One daughter made sure he know how much that meant to the kids.

Each year she sent my buddy a Mother’s Day card.

I’ve often thought about the difference between “Mother” and “Mom”. There is a much, much greater investment in giving birth to a child, to be a mother, than there is in contributing the genetic material necessary to create a child. Still, being Mommy means an ongoing, daily investment that goes on forever. I think there’s a wide gulf between “Father” and “Dad”, too. (Fathers take the day off on Father’s Day. Dads set aside the day to be with their kids if they’ll have them). Today’s celebration in my mind has always been “Mommy’s Day”, a celebration of women who have taken part in the act of being a Mom.

You can be a Mom in many, many ways. Likely 2 or 3,000 more ways than I can imagine. Stay at home or go to work? Sure. That part’s easy. My professional life is chockablock filled with super Moms who are killer great eye surgeons, techs, counselors receptionists, and on and on. Working Moms are just really good at the choosing what “it all” means, and then making sure that Momhood is a part of their “all”. My Mom stayed home and Beth’s Mom went to work. Both of us have countless memories of being with our Moms as Mommy. The Jersey Shore for me, Mt. Gretna for Beth, for example. Moms in the sand up to their foreheads, laughing and playing, all the while showing us how to carry ourselves in the world.

Carrying a child and giving birth is an event; Mommyhood is a full-time, ongoing, full-contact endeavor.

Here’s to all of the Moms our there. To the Mommies who got on the floor and dove into the garden and splashed in the puddles back in the day. Thanks for all of life’s lessons, for playing with us in mud, cheering us on when we were winning and just quietly holding us when we lost. If we’re lucky enough, for still being our Mom and still believing that there’s some tiny thing still left to teach us. To the Moms of our children, Mommy’s to our own. We Dads hope we’ve been good teammates, and today we all make it a point to admit that we’re thankful and happy to be mostly along for the ride. Happy Mother’s Day to my lawyer buddy Jim, and to all of the single Moms doing double duty. A special thanks to the young Moms raising our grandchildren. We all love you dearly, really do, even if it sometimes looks like we love your kids more!

And finally, Happy Mommy’s Day to my beloved Beth, my Better 95%. Thank you for making me a father and then helping me learn how to be a Dad. It’s so much easier being “Papi” than it was/is to be Dad. I’m so very glad you had enough time and love left over from being Mommy to make sure I kept trying to be a better Dad every day. Danny, Megan, Randy and I are forever blessed that you were the Mommy in our house.

I’ll see you next week…

One Response to “Mother’s Day musings…”

  1. May 10th, 2021 at 10:42 am

    Paul says:

    Thank you Bingo, nailed it!

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