Archive for the ‘Working mommyhood’ Category

The wisdom of Marmee

May 29, 2009

15813__littlewoman_lOn my wedding day a little less than two years ago, my sister and matron of honor, Carrie, presented me with a new hard cover copy of Little Women and inscribed it with the wish that I would read it to my daughter (should I ever have one) as our mom had done for us. You see there are four girls in my family just as there are four March sisters in Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel. We sisters always laughed as we compared ourselves to our counterpart in the book.

A few weeks ago, I took the book off the shelf in my infant daughter’s room, re-read the inscription from my sister, and thought it a good a time as any to start reading to my daughter the words of this cherished work of literature. My daughter seems to fuss a bit less when I rock her and read to her–no matter what the nature of the text–so I began reading the novel aloud, a chapter at a time. She is usually fast asleep one or two pages in, but I keep going (for my sake as much as hers)!

As I’ve read through the first ten chapters, I’ve been struck by the character of Marmee (the mother to the four little women at the center of the book). Marmee is the mother we should all aspire to be. Her kindness and wisdom know no bounds. Rather than tell her daughters how to tackle a problem, she helps show them. For example, when the girls persist in their complaints about their school work and household chores, she gives them the week off to do as they please and lounge at their leisure. After a mere few days of this new found freedom, the girls grow bored and cranky. Soon after, they eagerly pick up the chores they had so hastily cast off just days before. Marmee smiles as she sees her plan working–the girls learned the lesson she had hoped they would–that working has value and provides an outlet for our creative energies.

Perhaps, I should heed this lesson as today I find myself at the two-week mark before returning to work full time. I certainly have enjoyed these last ten weeks of maternity leave, bonding with my baby daughter, spending ample time outdoors and enjoying being out and about during the hours I would typically be at work. I’d be lying if I said I’m looking forward to returning to work. I’m sad to leave my baby girl. I’m nervous about balancing work and motherhood. And if I’m being honest, I’m going to miss being in control of my own day.

But perhaps cosmic forces led me to the bookshelf to begin reading Little Women when I did so that I could stumble upon Marmee’s wisdom at this critical juncture when I need reassurance about my decision to return to work. Marmee’s right–there is value in work, and I have a lot of creative energy to unleash for which work provides an outlet. I hope one day my daughter sees me as a role model for balancing a career and parenthood. And as Marmee would say, I’ll probably be a better person for it, and I dare say, so will my baby girl.

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Note to self

February 17, 2009

I’ve got about six weeks to go before D-day (delivery day). I will soon be someone’s mom (gasp)! This is kind of a scary proposition to me. Though I am 30, I often feel every bit the child I was 20 years ago. As I visited with my mom yesterday, I hugged her and said aloud, “I can’t be nearly as good at this as you have been.” She assured me I would. Though I am not sure I agree, I will give it my best go.

Today, I decided to write a letter to myself reminding me of special things my mom did with me that I need to replicate with my daughter so she feels as special as I always have in my mom’s eyes. Here goes.

Dear Jacquie,

You can do this! You can be a good mom. If you give it your all, you may even be a more than good. In addition to all the every day support and caring you give your child each day, be sure to make her feel extra special with simple but heartfelt gestures that she may not remember to thank you for but will always cherish. For example,

• Take her to feed the ducks, just you and her.

• Even though you’ll be a working mom, take days off to be a chaperone/driver on school field trips and to attend school plays. She may not admit it, but she’ll love that you were there.

• When she’s old enough to appreciate it, go for mom-daughter manicures and pedicures. Make her feel like a princess.

• On Valentine’s Day, make her a handmade Valentine letting her know she’s the apple of your eye.

• When she goes off to sleepover camp, send her letters before she even departs so she has one or two waiting for her when she arrives.

• Learn to sew even a basic pattern so that some day when she needs an elf hat for the Christmas pageant, you can make her one, and she can tell the other kids, “my mom made this for me!”

• Be her biggest fan on the field and off, in school and out.

• Surprise her with her favorite cookies for no reason at all.

You can do this. You will get as much, if not more, from it than she will. Good luck!

-Jacquie (at 34 weeks)