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Navigating To My Place: Part Two

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Back in April I wrote a post about some of my recent routines, including taking Simon to swimming lessons twice a week and packing his snacks. What began as a post about me evolved into a post about my Mom:

I've been thinking about my Mom so much as I pack his snack, gather his suit and towel, pick him up from school, drive him to the pool and watch him interact with his instructor. I think about her and wonder what she was thinking about as she did this for three kids, each just about 15 months apart in age. This whole process of snack-making is such an everyday activity. Did she embrace it? Did she mutter frustrations under her breath? Did she long for something else? Did she enjoy it? All those practices, all those meets and matches and games...all those moments packing snacks.

My parents are daily readers of my blog. They have been huge supporters of me in my personal and professional adventures throughout my life and have always been first in line when we needed help taking care of Simon or just needed a break at the beach (and in a million other ways as I was growing up).

My Mom read that post took the time to write some memories about what she was thinking during all those snack-making, carpool-driving days. I'd like to share them with you today. My question is in orange and her response follows.

What was she thinking about when preparing snacks for her three children?

Admitting a loss of memory for the exact thoughts I may have been thinking at the time, I can imagine the possible thoughts and questions going through my mind:



  • Thinking of schedules and time frames to get to the activities on time – because you were correct Ali, being on time was something I considered important and wanted to teach all of you the importance of that trait for your lives.

  • Thinking about groceries we needed and making lists for errands.

  • Thinking about what we were having for dinner and could I do anything to be prepared ahead of time?

  • Thinking ahead about scheduling for the homework and the importance of getting it done before bedtime.

  • Thinking about Al and wondering if he would be home for dinner that night.

  • Praying - for each of you, for all our family, prayers of gratitude for our home and blessings, that we could afford to send each of you to the special schools you attended, and that you were all healthy and able to participate in sports activities after school.



Did she embrace the snack-making?

Yes, I believe I did and was always looking for something nutritious and easy. You may remember, we purchased boxes of fruit roll-ups, peanuts, granola bars, etc. which we kept in the bottom drawer of the china cabinet. We also had lots of fruit: apples, oranges, grapes, and bananas for snacks. My college education in nutrition, as well as the early education in nutrition I received from my own Mother, taught me the importance of healthy snacks. It was a challenge to find foods you liked that were also good for your bodies.

Did she mutter frustrations under her breath?

Yes, at those times when I was tired, or sick, or overwhelmed with schedules. That’s when I would try to concentrate on the gratitude thoughts and prayers. Usually it wasn’t the snack making time that made me “mutter frustration.” It would have been the times when you were arguing with each other or complaining.

Did she long for something else?

I was very happy to be a Mother and very thankful for each of our children. I did not long for a job in my field of Family and Consumer Sciences, yet attempted to keep involved through part-time jobs and volunteer work in case I needed to get a job to help support our family.

I did “long for” a dream house, and spent time looking for that dream house for many years; eventually postponing that dream because it was more important to make sure that all of our children had the opportunity to have an excellent intellectual education as well as a physical and sports education.

My Dad says: “She longed for her families happiness.

Did she enjoy it?

The challenge to gather the snacks for people I loved and cared for was the most important aspect of my life at that present moment of my life. Looking back I am filled with gratitude that I was healthy and able to help each of you in whatever you needed at that time of your life.

My Dad says: “Of course she did.

Dottedline

So why am I sharing this here?

I am a collector of stories. A collector of memories and thoughts and
images.
These words are a part of my story, of the story of my family.

There's comfort in the universal. There's comfort in the connection that many of us experience as Moms. There's comfort in those daily routines that sometimes (or often) feel monotonous. This is definitely one of the reasons I treasure the process of the Week In The Life project. I have found that forcing myself to focus on, and document, my daily life leads to so many positive self-realizations and profound reasons for celebration (or the awareness that I need to make changes).

We all get to choose our attitude. One of the things I have always admired about my Mom is her attitude. Even when she was challenged, or tired, or just done, and displayed her completely normal frustrations - my overwhelming memories of her from when I was growing up was her positive attitude and how consistent she was at expressing gratitude.

There are patterns I want to repeat. I want to teach my kids about gratitude and living with a positive attitude. I want to live those two concepts so that my kids see them in action and know them as a regular part of their lives.

Our stories are far from perfect. Mistakes have been and will be made. Forgiveness has been granted and new challenges emerge. There have been things to overcome as a family and many things we continue to struggle with today. This is our reality. This is the common human reality. And through all of it, I am thankful for them every single day and want to show them just how much I love them right now.

Invite others to share in your documenting journey. Including other people's voices in my memory keeping efforts lends authenticity and a whole different depth to the pages I create. Send an email, pick up the phone, write a letter - invite someone in your life to share their perspective on the past with you. What you get back may be completely different (and possibly even more wonderful) than you can imagine.

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55 thoughts

  1. pegriz says…
    05/26/2010

    Thanks for reminding us to share the little moments -including our thoughts on these moments! To document these things will be cherished (I think) many years down the line!

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. Jennifer M. says…
    05/26/2010

    This was very sweet. I enjoyed reading the things your mother had to write.

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. Cathy Weber says…
    05/26/2010

    You actually brought a tear to my eye as I read this today. My middle son is signing documents today for his first house. He's 26. I can't believe the little boy I packed snacks for has his own home. I am happy and sad all at the same time. Loved reading your story today.

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. Megan (Best of Fates) says…
    05/26/2010

    She sounds like a fabulous mother - I love that you shared her responses with us!

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. Mary says…
    05/26/2010

    thanks for reminding me ali to record some of my mom's memories about raising 8 children!! I can't even imagine, but she obviously was very good at it : )
    have a great holiday weekend!

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. Tracy M says…
    05/26/2010

    I don't usually comment-what a great reminder to be THANKFUL for the little opportunities as moms to do things in love for our children. Dear friends of ours lost their 14-year old son yesterday-hold them close and cherish every "mom chore"!

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. Wendi says…
    05/26/2010

    How sweet is this to have these thoughts of yours documented, and then so blessed to have your Mom's thoughts added and documented. What a treasure for you, for her, and for your own sweet children. A true blessing.

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. kelly says…
    05/26/2010

    i love this post ali. i am thankful to and for my own mother every day and i try not hesitate to tell her so. now that i have my own child i hope to be the kind of mom who offers the comfort, security, fun and friendship that my mom has offered over the years.

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. Jennifer says…
    05/26/2010

    Oh Ali, what a beautiful sentiment. One of my favorite quotes is one you introduced me to, "Normal Day" from Mary Jean Iron. It was so meaningful to me that I put it up at work to read daily. Along this line of thought, I have to share something with you: Mason Jennings' song/video "Be Here Now" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wa_4wV2GDfQ) I'm particularly fond of the woman making the bed day after day after day. Sort of like that snack.

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. Lana says…
    05/26/2010

    Very thought provoking, Ali. I enjoyed reading your original post and your Mom's response too. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. Liz Ness says…
    05/26/2010

    LOVE this post (the importance of our personal/generational stories and because it is about your mom).
    Your mom is such an awesome lady -- I love her answers and approach (to snacks and life, in general). She is such an inspiring person and seems so able to extend her peaceful, considered being into the thoughts and actions of others (which is a good thing and a great gift).
    Thanks for sharing this Ali -- such a treat to see a learn a little more about your mom (and you)!
    =) Liz

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. tchrtiff says…
    05/26/2010

    Thank you and your mother so very much for sharing with us. I love her grateful heart! I'm trying to do the same as I raise an 8-year old and 3-year old and love to hear other moms that love(d) being a mother and dealing with the everyday chores in raising a family. It gives me confidence and hope.

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. Annette says…
    05/26/2010

    Thanks for shaing Ali. This comes at a time in my life that I needed a shove about gratitude.....the wonder of a special child and facing challenges... Great post...Being a mom is an awesome journey, some days are more awesome then others and it's ok to feel that way...
    Annette

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  14. Danielle says…
    05/26/2010

    Thank you Ali for adding this wonderful post with your mothers answers to those questions that often run through our mind. Most of the time those questions remain unanswered because they are thought of too late. Thank you for spurring me into sending my mother a simple note of thank you for all she has done for me and to ask her the very same questions...

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. dawn says…
    05/26/2010

    Thank you and your mom for sharing your thoughts for us. I love your first post and now it's even more special with your mom's feelings on all this. I think you are a lot like her and live each day to the fullest. My grandma will be the perfect person to talk to she raised 8 kids and still loves going to all the great grandchildren events evn now at 82. Thank you again ali, love the way you document.

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. Amber says…
    05/26/2010

    these posts remind me why i try to always find a way to tell stories, remember stories, collect stories, and preserve stories. i dont ever want to forget these MEMORIES! i am also so obsessed with knowing stories from the past, and i can only imagine my children will one day be as curious and interested in the past as i am!
    LOVE THESE POSTS!!!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. christen says…
    05/26/2010

    great post - your mom reminds me of my mom...we are lucky!

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. jen says…
    05/26/2010

    This is wonderful - Ali thanks for sharing - Mom too! I recently interviewed my grandma and mom; about their lives when their daughters were born and being a Mom...I just had a daughter in March and was caring for her one day thinking about them looking at their daughters and what they thought about...I wanted to know what has and has not changed it was really a wonderful chat with each of them and I will cherish learning all of that information and documenting it for my daughter to read when she grows up...

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. Nicky Hurt says…
    05/26/2010

    Wow. This is wonderful. It makes me miss my own Mom so much. (We're military and living far away from her.) I often wonder about her thoughts, and I admire her for what she's done. I guess I need to ask her questions and tell her that, huh? Thanks for the personal look at your families. I find that I, as a Mom, learn from these stories and take something away to my own family. Thank you. Both of you.

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. Beth says…
    05/26/2010

    I love this and hope my children have these memories of me. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. Monika Wright says…
    05/26/2010

    My OLW for 2010 is TRANSFORM, and one of those transformations that I hope to achieve is my attitude. I used to be such an upbeat, positive, glowing person. In the past few years, I have let the routines and schedules and personalities of 3 kiddos weigh me down. So, I want to work back into that better self I used to be. Reading that your Mom focused on her gratitudes and blessings is a great reminder for me. Be sure to thank your Mom for sharing that. It's not that I couldn't have thought of that myself in time, just that I didn't and she was kind enough to share that she had some challenges, too, and survived in a great state of thankfulness.

    Reply 0 Replies
  22. DawnS says…
    05/26/2010

    I remember your original post and was hoping that your Mom was going to reply. So glad she did :) I love her attitude towards life. I just started a series of blog posts called the ABC's of Life...and "A" is (of course) for Attitude!

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. radish says…
    05/26/2010

    I especially liked your appreciation for generational stories.

    Reply 0 Replies
  24. Icecat62 says…
    05/26/2010

    I want to sit down with both of my parents and get them to record their childhood memories and what they remember about their parents. Once they're gone, I want to have their thoughts and voices with me. I also want my DD to be able to see and hear them most of all so she'll know who they were, not just seeing photos and wondering what they were like or having shadowy memories like some people I know who can't remember much from their childhood. I'm getting ready to start a childhood memories journal of my own as a gift for her as well. Without scrapping, I would have never have thought of even doing any of these things.

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  25. Lisa says…
    05/26/2010

    Sweet. You are very fortunate to have such loving people.

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