motherhood

I Am My Mother's Daughter (Thanks Be to God)

Cathleen and Helen Falsani in 1973. Photo courtesy of the author.
Cathleen and Helen Falsani in 1973. Photo courtesy of the author.

“My mother... she is beautiful, softened at the edges and tempered with a spine of steel. I want to grow old and be like her.” ~ Jodi Picoult

When asked to describe my mother, Helen, my usual answer is: Queen Esther in espadrilles and a matching purse.

Esther comes to mind when I think of Mom because she was fiercely loyal, smart, determined, brave and deeply faithful. The sartorial descriptors capture my mother’s somewhat less spiritual side – always put together with a classic sense of style (although these days she leans more toward head-to-toe matching ensembles from Chicos and alligator flats, now that her penchant for wearing pointy-toed heels in the ‘60s and ‘70s have caught up with her poor feet.)

Mom has impeccable style and staggering grace, particularly in the midst of trials and tribulations. She is flinty (think Katharine Hepburn) and has an abiding, deep-in-her-DNA faith [think St. Therese of Liseux.]

Helen is a force with which to be reckoned and woe to you who would make the mistake of messing with anyone she loves.

Justin Bieber Thanks His Mother for Faith, Strength (and Helps Single Moms While He's At It)

Justin Bieber and his mom, Pattie Mallette, in NYC last year. (Getty Images)
Justin Bieber and his mom, Pattie Mallette, in NYC last year. Photo by Getty Images.

You might not be a fan of Justin Bieber, but I'm willing to bet there's at least one young person in your life who is.

And while it may be hard for us adults to believe, young Bieber, the Canadian pop superstar, has brought the Gospel -- of social justice and otherwise -- to millions of fans (who call themselves "Beliebers") around the globe.

Today -- just in time for Mother's Day -- Bieber, 18, released the new single "Turn to You" from his forthcoming album BELIEVE. It's a love song -- a tribute to his mother, Pattie Mallette, who gave birth to her only child when she was just 17 years old. Both Bieber and Mallette are devoted Christians (evangelicals, in fact) and neither is shy about speaking about their faith publicly.

“God is the one that is orchestrating all of this and giving [Justin] such incredible favor,” Mallette said in an interview with the Hollywood Prayer Network last year. “And he knows that it’s for a purpose and a plan. And he’s not sure what all that entails yet and how he fits into that, but he knows that it’s by God’s hand.”

Listen to the new song inside the blog ...

Mother's Week: My First Mother's Day

pregnancy illustration, Pim / Shutterstock.com
pregnancy illustration, Pim / Shutterstock.com

This is my first Mother’s Day as a mom, and you know what the best part is? I get to celebrate and sleep through the night. 

I’m currently 25 weeks pregnant with the first child for my husband and me. I am enjoying the beautiful rite of passage many women are fortunate enough to experience. Even though every time I experience a belly twitch, leg cramp, or pain in my back I acknowledge that I already am a mother, celebrating without a baby in my arms still seems a bit hasty.

Initially, I told my husband that the only Mother’s Day celebration I wanted was to have my dessert of choice on Sunday (I angle for this on most days, though, so it isn’t too unique). But the more I thought about it, I decided we could do something better. 

Motherly-ness: Shaping a Woman's Soul

Mary, Mother of God. Image via Wylio/ http://bit.ly/Jg8R6d.
Mary, Mother of God. Image via Wylio/ http://bit.ly/Jg8R6d.

A few years ago, I guest-lectured in a Women’s Studies class at Bethel University. My topic was How Motherhood Shapes a Woman’s Soul, but I ended up talking more about how motherhood sort of mirrors God, how being a mom (or hearing from moms) helps us understand God, his relentless love, his willingness to forgive and his patience with the whiney little complainers that we are.

Frankly, I was amazed at how engaged the women (and man) in the class were. I’m used to talking about issues maternal, but usually it’s to moms. Not to 21-year-old college seniors. But either these students were actually interested or exceptionally polite. I prefer to assume the former. After my lecture, we even had a lively round of Q&A. They asked lots of great questions, but two have really stayed with me.

The first that stuck was: “Why would anyone want to have kids?”

And the other was: “Why haven’t we ever heard this before? Why is it that I’ve gone to church my whole life and never once heard that moms might have special insight into God that should be shared?”

The first question made me laugh (and made me realize perhaps I ought to be guest-lecturing in abstinence classes!). The second question made me want to cry.

It's Getting Better to Be a Mother in the U.S.

For USA Today, Michelle Healy analyzes a new report on the state of motherhood around the globe:

"Just in time for Mother's Day, an annual ranking of the best and worst countries in which to be a mom puts the USA in 25th place, up from 31st last year. The 13th annual State of the World's Mothers report by the Save the Children foundation, out today, examines the well-being of mothers and their children in 165 countries, based on a range of measures, including mothers' education, infant mortality and breastfeeding rates."

Read more about the report here

 

Mother's Week: Queen Anne's Lace

Queen Anne's Lace image by Kevin H Knuth /Shutterstock.
Queen Anne's Lace image by Kevin H Knuth /Shutterstock.

Mother’s Day and today is a celebration of the role of my maternal life, a role that has proved to be more satisfying and blessed, which is closer to my heart, than writing or art or friendship or even marriage. The work and longing of a life-time, almost, has been invested in my children — the beings who had their start like seeds in my own body, who have bloomed and flourished, who overcame barriers and difficulties caused by my own parental inexperience or ignorance, who grew as I grew, who now have lives of significance, who are learning along with their own offspring, much as I did but in a far more swiftly changing world.

So there were pleasurable moments as I heard from all five individually. And flowers — yellow daisies and Queen Anne’s lace from Robin, my eldest. (It’s a favorite flower for us both. She and I remember back to her wedding to Mark, on an island in an Illinois forest preserve, when her wedding bouquet was made of those white lacy flowerets, exploding like fireworks.) I hope to use those delicate flowers as objects to write about when I talk about poetry at an elementary school next week.

'Mommy Style'

Motherhood concept image by Solovyova Lyudmyla /Shutterstock.

I take an online quiz that promises to tell me what kind of mom I am.

What’s it going to be? Sporty Mom? Church Volunteer Mom? TV-Free Mom? Old Mom? Even though I eschew labels, I still wonder what the quiz will tell me about what kind of mom I “really” am.

I answer the questions quickly and, after my score is tabulated, I learn that my “Mommy Style” is . . . drum roll, please . . . Earthy Mom! Yay! I think I was tagged as “earthy” because I admitted that my family is serious about recycling, that I chose the sling as the best way to carry an infant, and because I preferred “I Got You, Babe” to Madonna’s “Vogue” or Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman” as my “Mom Theme Song.” (Just FYI—The Beatles’ “With a Little Help from My Friends” wasn’t an option.)

I got zero percent as my Sporty Mom score. My Fashionista Mom score was dismally low. I got a fairly good score for Classic Mom, but far fewer points than I’d expect for Multitasking Mom. (That last score offended me a bit. I grant you that I’m not a fashionista or really very sporty. But a multitasker? I failed on that? Have you seen me at dinnertime? I’m like one of those people who can spin plates. Homework! Phone calls! Permission slips! Butternut squash and coconut milk soup! Neighbor kids ringing the doorbell to sell popcorn and Girl Scout cookies! I can manage it all—and all at once!)

Oh well. I’ll take the Earthy Mom moniker. After all, I’ve been called all sorts of things as a mom.

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