Friday 7 May 2021


Mother's Day 2021 got me wondering how we learn to be good caregivers - what lessons about caring did we learn from our own mothers?  I asked friends and colleagues who are caregivers on social media to tell me what they learned from their Moms and this is what they said:

Susan: Fierceness... is that a word? My Mom has always been extraordinarily protective and supportive of us. God forbid anyone harm us or dare lay a hand on us, or say anything malicious. She would turn from a gentle, sweet-humoured lady into an assertive tigress in the blink of an eye. I carry forth that same fierceness, it has done me well in advocating for my handicapped child. I don't give up. I don't accept any sort of maliciousness or injustice. I too, become assertive in the blink if an eye. I'm 46 and fierce, while my mother has mellowed in her golden years. Well, unless you try to mess with one of her brood! 

Anchel: My mom always handled touch situations with grace. A lot of grace. 

Kara: Strength

Jana-Marie: How to question doctors and nurses and not be afraid to ask anything, as well as good hand washing with health issues.
Amina: Faith, my mom taught me that I can try to control my life and my kids' and plan to avoid anything that can harm them. But I won't always succeed. So when I feel hopeless and everything around me is going wrong, I should remember that we are all like leaves in the wind, yet we should have faith that we shall never be blown too far to come back. Miss you so much Mama.

Brianne: Always see the good in everyone and be your child's biggest strength, voice and cheerleader.

Kim: My mom was an RN and I witnessed her nurse my sister who had severe asthma... that was the foundation, but the fill was when she had the four of us and took on my cousins for a year... being open and doing your best!

Julie: My mother was (is) very nurturing... making sure we had warm pyjamas, warm feet, clean, cozy, loved. 

Marie: Mother's Day is always emotional and painful for me. My Mom is on the schizophrenia spectrum. What I learned from her is to question, cite, fact check, cross reference EVERYTHING - even things I think I know. To accept different neurologies as a part of natural diversity. To forgive myself - I did not cause her schizophrenia, nor did I cause his autism. To sift through hyperbole and hysteria and find facts. All of these often put me at odds with other parents, in particular other Moms. I have been through this type of grieving already and I am on the other side. I appear like a know-it-all, but I am not. I just had a very different mom and that changed me forever. 

Diana: My mother told me that there are no guarantees in life. That what comes our way, we have to accept, embrace and do our best. Skip the 'pity parties'. Everyone in life is dealing with something. She said to love unconditionally. She also told me that every day to do three good deeds without expecting anything back; that just in doing those things, it would make your day go better. It has helped in parenting and life in general. This was all said before I became a parent. 

Karen: Suffering builds character.

Tammy: To always look at the positive side. Things could always be worse than they are. 

Alison: I think one of the biggest lessons she taught me was to be patient and live with grace. I just wish that my natural temperament was more in keeping with her lessons because I find both of these things more than a little challenging. I fail often, but I never stop trying (a lesson from my Daddy). 

Paula: I learned everything from her. For when Nana went blind, she moved in with us and her sister, too. When Grampa got sick, out went the dining room table and in came the hospital bed... This is how I learned. 

Beth: My mom wasn't afraid to question a teacher or a doctor or whoever was "in charge". In an era when that just wasn't done. She liked to say, "I am the MOM, I am the ultimate authority on this child." And that has helped me greatly when I needed to do the same.

Me: I loved hearing about caregiving lessons passed down from mothers to daughters. And so of course, I've been reflecting on the lessons my own mom taught me. My mother died on August 16, 2018. She was a very feisty character who objected strongly to her own aging and dependency needs. My mom always worked in some paid job or other (she wanted her own money, hated housework and despised coffee parties) - she was completely different from every other mother on our street! What did I learn from Mom? I learned self-reliance, a deep sense of appreciation (she'd say, "Look at that sea. Just look at it!") and a passion for making wrongs right. I learned from her how to paddle a canoe and really laugh when life threw curve balls at anyone in our family. Most of all, I learned how to forcefully put one foot in front of the other, head down, to keep going every day. 

We all learn lessons of nurturing and caring from our mothers and today I want to celebrate that legacy. Happy Mother's Day, everyone!

Me and my Mom

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