Single Mother of Five

For this weeks blog post I chose to interview one of the most inspiring and loving people I know, Rosemary Cabe. Her responses were eye opening and gave me a whole new perspective on raising five kids as a single mom. If you are interested please continue reading!

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What are the joys and rewards that come with being a mother in your opinion ?

 “It is wonderful to be a part of the lives of these amazing people, who are your children and grandchildren. They delight you from the very beginning, with their first smile, their first words, and watching them learn and grow, becoming their unique selves, is just an incredible experience. I think it’s surprising to learn how much you can love someone, as you do with your first child, and all the ones that come after. It’s a lesson in learning that love is not divided between your children; rather it multiplies with each new birth. Your children see you at your best and your worst, although you wish it was just at your best, and they are forgiving.  We all want to be the perfect mother, to avoid all the mistakes, to do things right, and because we are human, that isn’t what happens. We may make the same mistakes our mothers made, or perhaps we will make new ones, We get tired, frustrated, and angry, and things don’t go perfectly. You trip at the classroom door and drop the ice cream cone cupcakes you are delivering for the class birthday party, you embarrass your children just when you are trying to impress them, but the best thing is we keep trying to do better, and hopefully our children learn that lesson….not to be perfect, but to keep trying. The greatest reward I have experienced is seeing my children, now as adults, as mothers, aunts and uncles. To see how much they love and care about this new generation of children in the family is the best reward of all.”

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How has your mother influenced your own experience of having a child ?

“My mother was a stay at home mom. She had, what seemed to me growing up, to be a calm and orderly life. My aunt and grandmother lived with us for much of my life, so I grew up in an extended family, adult dominated home, that was quite formal. Growing up in the forties and fifties, I saw my mother’s role very defined as a mom and homemaker. She created a home life that was gracefully organized and quite beautiful. I don’t remember my mother  ever raising her voice or losing her temper. In my mind, she was what a good mother was supposed to be. I believed my mother was happy and content with her life, and in many ways, I wanted to be just like her. I liked that no one ever said, “shut up” or talked rudely in our house, and that our family went to church together. Although we didn’t have a garden, we often had fresh flowers in the house, and my mother had a gift for making things seem elegant and special.

Because we are influenced by the time period in which we live, my parents were not as involved in our childhood as parents are today. My mother and father traveled quite a bit when I was growing up, and there was always more of a separation between the adults and the children. (And in general, “children were to be seen and not heard”) Two of my best friends while I was growing up were the oldest of five children. I spent lots of time at their houses, and loved how all the kids were close and laughed so much together. Their houses were very kid dominated, (and a little chaotic), which made me want to have a less formal home when I grew up, and to have five children myself !

Life gives everyone challenges, and my mom was only forty two when my father had a very serious stroke, which left him in a wheel chair and unable to speak. I saw how my mother accepted this drastic change in her life; how she was devoted and gentle in caring for my father, how she didn’t complain, and how she did her very best to make his life as comfortable as possible. I was always grateful for her ability to accept the difficult circumstances of her life, and to care for my father with such kindness. She was a courageous, strong woman.

One particular thing I appreciated about my mother, when she was a grandmother, was that she never made comparisons between her grandchildren: or the families of her three children. I was aware of that and have tried to follow her example with the families of my own children, and not make comparisons.”

What are some hardships you had to overcome ?

“As I mentioned above, I wanted to be the kind of mother my own mother was: calm, organized, making everything lovely. However, my marriage ended in divorce, and I became a single parent with five young children, ages kindergarten to eighth grade. The hardest part of that was  going to work full time. I felt both sad and guilty for not giving my children the type of childhood experience I had, with a mom who stayed at home, was calm, happy and available. I mentioned that my mother never shouted or lost her temper. I did both.

Because you bring your children into the world, you want the world to be a good, safe place for them, you want the life you gave them to be a happy life, so seeing your children hurt, disappointed and unhappy is the hardest thing for a mother. It  makes you concerned for the future of the planet, the quality of our institutions, and the fabric of our society in a way that goes beyond our own individual lives. I sometimes think if mothers ran the world, there would be no more wars, because having given birth to life, it seems incomprehensible to agree to take it away.”

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What advice would you give to future mothers or young girls ?

“My advice to future mothers, or young girls in general, would be to try to be your best self at each stage of your life. Despite a person’s dreams, or expectations, until you are a mother, you don’t know for sure that you will be. There are women who don’t choose to, or aren’t able to get pregnant, and women who don’t have a successful pregnancy. The important thing in life, in my opinion, is to try to make it a habit to be your best self, do the best you can, all along the way. The more strength, patience, compassion and love you develop, the better your life will be, and if it happens for you, the better mother you will be.”

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What made your experience of being a mother different than someone else?

“I guess every woman giving birth thinks her’s is a particularly extraordinary experience.The first time I was in childbirth, I was scared but I told myself, “If so many other women can do this, so can you !” As we were rushing to the hospital two days before Christmas, when I was going to give birth to my second child, we had to slow down for a funeral procession going in the opposite direction. All the cars had their headlights turned on, and were following the hearse that was transporting the body headed for the cemetery. I remember thinking how profound it seemed; that one life had ended, and my baby’s life was getting ready to start. My experience of being a mother is probably more similar than different from other mothers’ of my generation. When and where you are growing up in your motherhood is a major factor in what constitutes the differences, I think.”

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