My own exploration into the ifs, whens, and hows of motherhood have been dominated by thoughts of my own mother who, despite being a complete music-y, artsy, hippy chick weirdo, was a pretty gosh darn good mother. So, I decided to phone her up and ask her for a few of her thoughts on motherhood, non-traditional women, and the meaning of life. Here is what she said:
Katie: When did you decide you wanted to be a mother?
Mama Toni: I probably didn’t decide I wanted to be a mom until, maybe, right before I got married to your dad. I just never thought about it before. I wanted to raise cocker spaniels (Note from Katie: See? Isn’t my mom weird?!).
Katie: What made you start thinking about having children? Was it preparing to get married? Meeting Dad?
Mama Toni: You have to remember that your grandparents were pretty traditional. I guess part of me thought that having children was a way to finally do something they would be proud of. I admit it’s not the best reason to have kids, but it was mine.
Katie: When is the right time to have a child?
Mama Toni: When you want one. If you wait to be “ready” in any way, it will never happen. You will never have enough money, enough time, and enough sanity.
Viviana is the woman behind the super awesome Spanish-language website Mamás y Bebés. In this interview we talk babies and compare/contrast North American and Central... Read more
Katie: Were you ever afraid that your identity would be completely defined by being “a mom”?
Mama Toni: Well, I knew that I would never see myself as only a mother. I knew that I would always be a musician, an artist, that those things would always be part of how I defined myself. But I was always afraid that other people would see me only as a mom. That was a real fear.
Katie: How do you feel about your decision to work full time while we (my sister and I) were growing up?
Mama Toni: I would do it all over again. I know I am not going to win any awards for my mothering skills, but I would have been an even shittier mom if I hadn’t worked, if I felt stuck at home with you girls. I know not all women fell this way, and I am lucky that I have a profession that I love. Continuing to work was a way for me to keep the non-mom part of me alive. Like I said before, that was very important to me.
Katie: When I was growing up, most of your friends were childfree, single women. That seems to be opposite of the dominate paradigm that says once women have children they gravitate towards other mothers socially. Why do you think most of your friends did not have children?
Mama Toni: Frankly? I am friends with people whose company I enjoy regardless of their circumstances. Most of the other moms I met, at you girls’ school and such, were really boring people. All they talked about was their kids. I think, probably, because that’s what they thought they were supposed to talk about. I love you girls with all my heart; I love you more than anything in this world, but, honestly, even now you are only good for about 20 minutes as a topic of conversation. It was even less when you were preverbal.
Katie: What would be your advice to other non-traditional women who are parenting?
Mama Toni: Be yourself and keep being yourself, even if other people tell you not to be yourself. Not only is it the best thing you can do for yourself, it is the absolute best thing that you can do for your children. Your children learn from watching you , and authentic people are happy people. Also, don’t isolate your children. We have made parenting a lonely project. It wasn’t meant to be that way. Let your child mingle with the village so to speak. They will gain wisdom from others that you may not have and they will become less afraid on top of it. Fear is a terrible legacy to leave your children.
Katie: Is there anything else you want to say, Mama?
Mama Toni: Sometimes I look at you girls and everything you have accomplished and I think, “Damn, those kids must have had a good mom.” And then I remember: I am your mom. Then I think, “Well, I guess some people succeed despite their mothers.”
Katie: Oh, Mama.
Mama Toni: Just telling the truth, Katie Bear.
Comments on Here’s a quick way to learn more about mothering: INTERVIEW YOUR MOM!
I love you girls with all my heart; I love you more than anything in this world, but, honestly, even now you are only good for about 20 minutes as a topic of conversation. It was even less when you were preverbal.
I LOVE THIS.
Me too! I cackled into my coffee.
Thanks for this post…I have had reservations about being a mom and losing my identity, your mom’s interview is refreshing!
I have a 16 month old and STILL worry about losing my identity, so I think it’s something that’s ongoing. I think even being aware of the fact that you are worried about it motivates you to make sure it doesn’t happen, if that makes sense. Like, since I knew before Jasper was born that I wanted to make sure I maintained my “Stephanie-ness,” I have continued to do many of the things I did pre-baby, and do things on my own, and with friends, etc. I LOVE being a mom, of course, but I also love knowing that I can be a mom, be me, and those two can be the same person without it meaning anything is being given up.
I agree though–this interview is definitely refreshing and awesome!
I have a 3 year old son and a 5 month old son, and I’m STILL struggling to maintain who I am as someone other than just a mother. It’s a very slow work in progress.
Great post! That is the BEST thing I did when I was pregnant…talked my mom to death! I asked her everything I could about her 5 pregnancies and births and parenting an infant. And my pregnancy and birth was almost identical to her first! It was a great way to mentally prepare myself for the process.
This reminds me of when I asked my Dad when did he feel like he was ready for kids, and he said “I’m still waiting to feel like I am ready” my mom also sentimented that if you are always waiting for the perfect time it’ll never come. Its fun talking to your parents about parenthood you learn even more about them, and how amazing and special they are. Katie it sounds like you have an awesome mom, we are all lucky and I can only hope my kids love me as much as I love my parents (crossing my fingers)
This is beautiful!
I loved the comment about the other mums she met were boring and she just chose her own friends regardless of circumstances – I only have one ‘mum friend’ and I met her through a burlesque class, not through any effort to engage with other mothers.
So many of her responses resonate!
Awesome! I have been wanting to do this with grandmother.
This is such a great post! I talk to my grandmother a lot about mothering (I’m not yet in that place where I can have a kid, but someday, I hope?) and I’m happy that i have such an open and honest, crazy-awesome grandma that I can talk to. But man, do I wish I could ask my mom all these questions. 🙁
“your still only good for about 20 minutes as a topic of conversation”
My favorite thing I’ve read on offbeat mama, I think.
I wish “Interview Your Mom/Dad” would become a regular feature. I know my Mom is beyond cool, and while I don’t think anyone else has a Mom quite as awesome as mine, I am sure we could learn a lot from them anyways!
PLEASE make it a regular feature!!!! PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE!
What are you thinking? Always from Kate’s mom, or from anyone’s? If anyone’s–go ahead and interview yours! Send it in! 😀
I was thinking anyone’s (although Kate’s Mom seems like a ton of fun lol!), so maybe I will, but I would love to hear from others too! It just seems like so much fun!
A great piece, it’s wonderful reading a mom’s mom’s perspective. Sadly asking my dad such questions doesn’t illicit anywhere near such an interesting response. I’ll have to keep trying.
Your mom sounds awesome! Thank you for sharing your interview with her – she comes across as so honest and authentic (which is clearly the type of life she’s led). Having a pretty great mom myself is what normally makes me want to have kids one day (on a good day, as you say!)
I would love to read more interviews like this as well, but one won’t be coming from my neck of the woods. My mother and I don’t have a mother/daughter relationship, and asking her questions is like pulling teeth. It’s more of a “I tolerate you” type deal from her, so I love reading about others who have that relationship to benefit from.
I feel the same way! It never even occured to me that people COULD have this type of conversation with their parents!!!
I would actually really like to see interviews with grandmothers! Mine were both gone before I was old enough to care about stuff like this. It would be excellent to see what they have to say.
P.S. Ya’all are very sweet!
Grandmothers would be great too! My grandmas passed away before I could remember them, so that would be very neat!
I’d like to see some dad’s as well 🙂 My dad took two years off when I was born, but mainly because he was studying at university and my mum has a secure full time job. My dad was a big kid really! 🙂