At my niece Grace’s piano and vocal recital last week, I watched a mother/daughter piano duet. They made beautiful music sitting side-by-side, and I began contemplating motherhood.
I called my mom the next day and asked: “What was the hardest thing about being a mom that you didn’t expect?” I figured since she’s been a mom for 57 years to seven children and was married at 18, the day after her high school graduation, she had some wisdom to share.
Without hesitation she answered: “That you had to be around all the time — love and patience.” (Remember, she gave birth to a complete first-string basketball team with two alternates.) Laughing she added: “I learned from my kids that I’m not as smart as I thought I was, especially when you’re growing up as your kids are growing up.”
And: “It’s definitely a journey, a good journey.”
My 23-year-old daughter Aly overheard my question and turned it on me: “Mom, what was the hardest thing about being a mom that YOU didn’t expect?”
I answered: “That my heart would feel the hurts and pains that my daughters experienced, but even more, the great love and overwhelming joy.”
When the words left my mouth, I remembered the sincere weathered face of my 97-year-old grandfather, Ralph Hommel, years ago when he shared: “Children are a great joy, but at times they can break your heart.”
He had been reminiscing about having been married for more than 70 years to a “good woman,” Florence, whom he obviously missed. Then he got that half-grin look and smiled with contentment about life with a blessed woman — and life with their 11 children and 36 grandchildren.
My wise daughter Aly took it upon herself to write down what she thought were three integral character-building situations I would have missed if I never had children:
Treasure hunts for cups and lunch boxes, sometimes found with molding food.
More than 16 years of sitting on hard bleachers looking side-to-side watching my daughters swim.
Never knowing or having anyone to define the words twerking, ratchet and SMH.
Whether you’re a young mom just entering the battle, a seasoned mom on the verge of an empty nest, or grandmother enjoying grandchildren — happy Mother’s Day.
Janet Hommel Mangas, the third of seven children, grew up on the east side of Greenwood. The Center Grove area resident and her husband are the parents of three daughters. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.