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Emily Morrison Emily Morrison
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In praise of middle-aged mothers

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In praise of middle-aged mothers In praise of middle-aged mothers

Ever had your house cleaned from top to bottom without lifting a finger? Ever arrived home after working like a dog and found logs on the fire, a meal in the fridge and the surface of your kitchen counter clean and clearly visible? Chances are your home has been visited by the same house sprite who generously sprinkles her fairy dust over the abodes of adult children everywhere: YOUR MOM. 

I don't know why they do it or what the exact cut off age is, but the mothers I know (my friends are all over 30-something) just can't stop mothering. Funny thing, that maternal instinct doesn't seem to ever shut down. Middle aged moms keep doing laundry, bringing meals, letting the dog out, buying tablecloths and arranging centerpieces for every season (pumpkins for the fall, holly berries for the winter, Easter lilies for the spring and fresh lilacs and linen candles for the summer). Moms swoop in to save the day in their retirement cars and comfortable shoes without every expecting more in return than a phone call. 

And what about all that free, long-distance therapy moms dole out? No one can listen to your problems like your mother. Even from a hundred miles away, no one can make you feel like they are there for you more than your mom. They say 'Aw' and 'Oh' and 'No' at all the right moments. They let you go on and on and on, without interrupting you or changing the subject. Moms remind you that you're strong and then tell you exactly how you are going to get stronger. It's amazing.

But moms pick up more than your house (and you) when you're down and out. They're also around when you are up and at 'em. When you're at you're best and all the stars are lining up in your direction, no one is happier for you than your mother. Partly, that's because she knows the therapy bill she's sending you in the mail will be lower this month. If you're happy, she's happy. When you get good news, a new job or even just a compliment on a new do, there's nothing like sharing your joy with your mother. Whatever it is, whether you're solving a difficult problem or positively parenting your own child, nothing compares to hearing the happiness in your mother's voice when she's happy for you.

Most of all, mothers remind us of who we are. As adults, it's so easy to lose touch with who and what we come from. It's easy to feel separated from your hometown, your childhood and your roots when you're living somewhere else raising your own children surrounded by different people. Mothers give us a reason to keep coming back home, to keep reconnecting with the people who nurtured us when we were young and to keep taking our own kids to the places our parents took us. When we allow our adult selves to be sons and daughters again, our mothers keep us humble. They tell us, 'Hey, you need to renew your license, kiddo' or 'It's time to get a new car.' They gently nudge us back in the right direction when we've gone off track (my mother's fond of a few light slaps) and then let us take the credit for coming around. 

So to all of you middle-aged miracle workers out there who continue to bring new life and new meaning to your children's lives, thank you. Thank you for teaching us what motherhood really means. And a special thank you to my mother, the most giving woman I have ever known. In the words of the late, great Abraham Lincoln, 'All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.'




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