Refelctions on Mother’s Day
I was chatting with my doctor a few months ago and we got to talking about our families.
I told him that he must be so proud of his son who is following in his footsteps as a physician. It’s quite a compliment to have your child seek to be in the same profession as his or her parent, I ventured.
New York State recognizes me as a professional educator. I have strong credentials as a development officer for several not for profits. There is another profession to which I claim status. In fact, I come from a long line of these professionals.
None of us have shingles to hang out, no state licenses to practice nor letters after our names. The first of my colleagues about whom I have information is Edith Ann Trigenza who married John Champion and gave birth to, among others, Mable Gwendolyn, who married William Toms and who, like her mother gave birth to a daughter, Phyllis Enid.
Phyllis married Marinus Smithwick and gave birth to three daughters and one son. The eldest of her offspring was Ann, otherwise known as me. Eliza, Mable, Phyliis and Ann, all mothers, each an apprentice, learning our trade at our mother’s knee.
My mother adored her grandmother, Eliza. My grandmother, whom I adored in similar fashion, told me wonderful stories about her life in Camborne, UK, proud that her mother was an educated woman, a school mistress who sent her only daughter to school to learn a trade.
Mom, my mother, who as an adult, supported us with her earnings as a telephone operator, learned how to cope with hardship from her mother, having to emigrate at 11 to the U.S and finding that her father could no longer support the family. It put great pressure on her to leave school as soon as she was able to supplement what her mother was able to earn.
She found that lesson useful when my dad was diagnosed with tuberculosis, shortly after the birth of their fourth child. With four children under five, my mother forged on, in the best way she could, her mother’s example as a guide.
And during those empty years, it was my grandmother who filled in as best she could so that we all could survive. Each of these women raised their children to be kind, loving and productive, not afraid of the bumps, some quite difficult, that one finds in life.
I have been more fortunate than my mother and grandmother. Like my foremothers, I’ve worked, worked in and out of the house for most of my married life, balancing both kinds of work with my most important job, being a mother.
Though I had the best of apprenticeships, the challenges I’ve faced were far less daunting. I look back on Mother’s Day and wonder about all of the mothers, professionals without portfolios, who carry the culture forward, who build character, demonstrate determined constancy, a creative approach to the vagaries of life and so much love. One day to celebrate the power of that love.
None of us will ever receive, nor will most mothers, the intrinsic recognition that other professionals receive. There are no awards, no trophies to say, “Good job,” no televised acknowledgement, but yesterday, I looked at my daughter’s Facebook page and she who is a speech therapist and audiologist, wrote there for all the digital world to see, that her profession was “MOTHER.” I am overwhelmed.