DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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12 June 2012

Our rock and our cushion

There are certain things that make me think of my mother. I looked at a new blog on the weekend with fresh poppies in the banner and I shot back to being about eight years old watching my mother burn the bottom of poppy stems on the gas fire "because they'll last longer." She knew so much. She knew all those quirky things that other people's mothers didn't know. I didn't know it at the time, but I was storing all that information away to be brought out too many years later.

Jean St Claire McGrath  1919 - 1993

I think I am the person I am today because of my mother. We look alike and we share a similar personality. When I was younger, she always encouraged me to do my best and she praised both my sister and I whenever we did anything well. She taught us both the love of reading and books, of generosity, kindness and courage, and she taught us both how to sew and knit; Tricia made use of those skills long before I ever did. I was a risk taker and tried as much as I could that was new to me, but those things my mother taught, well, I thought they were too soft for me. I had to grow up a lot before I knew their true value. And hers.

I wish I'd been a better daughter.

But I take strength in knowing that I clearly remember my mother and her daily life and I do  many things she taught me and modelled for me her entire life. Now that I'm a mother and a grandmother, I am closer to the person I wish I'd been all those years ago. I am more like her. I guess there is no way of being other than what you are, all things come in their own time, and if she were to read this, I am sure she would be the first to remind me of that. I am fortunate to have had such a good role model.

Our families make us in more than one way. We are born from them but they're also our way of seeing the world and others during all those formative years. We do that for our own children too and I think that being a mindful and attentive role model is one of the most important parts of parenting, and grand parenting. We have to not only take the time to be a part of our extended family, we have to show our children how they fit into their family. That will be one of the great gifts you give them, because family has the capacity to be a safe harbour and to guide and protect. And learning how we fit in there, along with the brothers, sisters, cousins, grandmas, grandpappies, mums and dads, shows us what family really is - that it is our rock and our cushion.

30 comments:

  1. I am sure your Mother would be very proud to know these words you have written today.

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  2. Bravo! Perfectly written. Thanks, again, Rhonda!

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  3. The warm fireplaceJune 12, 2012 5:09 am

    My role model was my grandmother i learnt so much from her, loads that like you i stored away unwittingly and as time has gone along have come to the surface, she had a cellar, i have never seen so much stored away jams, pickles you name it it was in a jar of syrup, salted or vinagar, they had a tight budget but ate like kings. She would look after her huge allotment and then go picking in the fields, knit and sew anything, up at 6 fires laid to light i just loved her work ethic,and her simple but very rich life.
    sue

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  4. Lovely thoughts today Rhonda. Thanks for sharing this.

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  5. My goodness! You do look like your mother. That photo could easily be you as a little girl. Our families are such a strong influence, aren't they? I still think of my grandmother often as I go about my day and wish she was here. Thank you for reminding me how important my role is as a mother of another generation of people. I hope I can encourage them to be thoughtful, kind and strong people!

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  6. Lovely post. She has wisdom in her eyes even at that young age.

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  7. Love this post Rhonda it brought a lot of feelings back with my grandma and her love of saving tid bits and remaking them into something they could use. Her cutting out quilt pieces and saving them for me when I came to visit (I made three full quilts from those pieces) and her gardens and canning and so much more. She passed when I was 13, but I have so much of her in me. :)

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  8. I wish I had known the importance of family earlier in life, but I wasn't really taught that by my parents. I'm changing things with my own family - I'm very close to my adult children and my grandchildren, and very proud of that. I love how you honored your Mother - thank you for writing such a thoughtful piece.

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  9. Wonderful post Rhonda. So true how our families shape us, and how we fit in our families. I too had a wonderful mother role model that I paid way too little attention too for far too long and now she is gone. But I do remember a lot that she did teach me like knitting.

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  10. Lovely post. And how I remember burning the ends of the poppies on the gas stove - and the hydrangeas too.

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  11. I love your comment, " what family really is - that it is our rock and our cushion".

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  12. It wasn't until I was waiting for my first child that I had an epiphany. I saw the unbroken line of women behind me, stretching through the ages, right back to caves ad savanah plains. Unbroken. Each of us successful raisers of children. I can only directly honour and aknowledge the women I knew, my mother and grandmother, who bred me and grew me and moulded me and sent me out into the world to add whatever I could to the chain and pass it on. I have one daughter and one son, my only sister has no children. My mother and grandmother are gone now and I am the matriarch in our family and the responsibility weighs heavily on me. They were such amazing women, how can I live up to their example? Have I prepared my children for the challenges ahead? They are good people, resilient, loyal, hard working, loving people. I hope the skills they have will see them through changing times. I'm weeping as I write this (drips and keyboards aren't a good mixture); not sad but deeply moved by your words. Thank you Rhonda.

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  13. Lovely post Rhonda...i wish we could understnad this concept a little more clearly when we are younger but i guess that is one of life's lessons that we must learn and in turn pass onto our own children!
    You really do look a lot like your Mum and i am sure she would be so very proud of you right now xx

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  14. My mother was born the same year as yours however she was nearly 43 when I was born after three boys she always she I was her change of life baby because she said she sailed through menopause. She too had a lot of old world knowledge and funny sayings. As a child she told us she was responsible for making the dessert each night. I still make her time honoured receipe for pikelets. She was tough and soft at the same time. Her crocheting is a family treasure. One of my brothers has named an island he made in a dam on his property after her "Peggy Island" i doesnt matter how much time goes by I still cry over her thankfully I have a daughter to remind me of her.I miss her so much when times a are tough but when I walk past the washing powder isle her face comes flooding back. My parents house smelt like freshly washed sheets......Oh thats done it I think I will put a load of washing on...thanks mum luv ya heaps

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  15. Gosh,Rhonda, that brought tears to my eyes. Thankyou for such a beautiful post, and a reminder of how important we are in our children's lives.

    Madeleine

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  16. Interesting though how many people I hear saying that they don't want to be like their mother or think it a terrible insult to be considered like one's mother. I have been like my mother since I could breathe and I accept it ruefully and gratefully. I know one of my daughters would die to think she might be like me but she belongs to the ancient chain regardless. Oh to have old heads on young shoulders....but it comes.

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  17. Our families can be our rocks; but they also can pull us apart . Do not underestimate the effect of negative family experiences ; not everybody is lucky enough to have what you had.
    But we do get a chance to make things right when we have children and to be better parents than our parents were.
    I envy everybody who had a wonderful childhood.

    Daria, Burnside, SA>

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    1. I hear and understand what you are saying, Daria. My one and only role model, my father passed away tragically in 2010 when I was 33 and that has brought up so many issues for me that I struggle with everyday. I am hoping as I get older and wiser that I can deal with this better but for now I am trying my dear hardest to be the mother I want to be for my two little boys!

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  18. HI Rhonda,
    New to your blog, I have recently moved with my family to a remote area and did not think that I needed any family near me. But now I feel that my family and I are missing out on the extended family unit. However on the other side of the coin it has bought me closer with my two girls at a time in their life that they may have gone a little awall.

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  19. When we bought our retirement farm & were applying our own final touches to it, I was at loose ends in deciding what to hang on the wall in the dining room as I didn't want the normal country picture but it needed something. Then, whilst unpacking some boxes, I found my mother's hand written subsenior home economics assignment exercise book that she'd done at school in 1941-1942. The pages are beautifully browned with age & the book was well & truly falling apart. Each page included the date, the recipe costed in pounds, shillings & pence & marked & signed by the teacher in red. So, I carefully removed 6 pages & I had 3 in sequence framed as one picture for myself & the other 3 individually framed as a gift for each of me three sisters. Mine now proudly hangs at the end of our long dining room / kitchen table ...... they are, " Fairy Cakes, Sweet Scones & Tea Cake" & are a daily reminder of the kitchen I grew up in as one of eight children with an old fashioned home economics teacher mother. I miss her daily but feel that she's never far away when I need to call on her wisdom & guidance.

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  20. My mother taught me that nothing I ever did was good enough and that everyone was worth more than me and because of that I now suffer chronic depression and OCD. The past 6 months I have learnt more from you Rhonda than I've learnt in 40 years from my mother.

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  21. Great post, one we all can relate to in some way. My grandparents were great role models to me. One grandmother taught me to sew, and to know that "life is never over." She said that in the last year of her life, and I remember the fire in her eyes as they burned into mine, willing me to understand the meaning of those words. My other grandparents had ten acres and I lived there, sharing in the watering and weeding during my teen years. My grandpa took me to place flags on veteran stones on Memorial Day, and my grandma taught me to cook, crochet and laugh. When I am cooking stew in her pot, browning the meat and flour until it is "almost burnt", or when I plant squash in little mounds, I feel like she is watching me. Truly, the most important things I learned in life were from my grandparents.

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  22. Thank you so much Rhonda,you often bring tears to my eyes,(in a good way though:)a beautiful post and I loved the womens replies on here,so lovely to read.My role model was my grandmother and she always told me stories of my great maternal grandmother,so even though she passed a year before I was born in 1964,her spirit definately lives on in all our lives,I have photos of her around my home from the age of eighteen dressed in her Victorian style dress to a woman in her eighties and also have her recipe folder with recipes written by her:)
    Carleene

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  23. To anonymous above, who unfortunately, had negative family experiences....have you thought of making a "surrogate" family from those people around you who you admire and wish to learn from? Sometimes an older role model that isn't an actual family member can be a great teacher too!

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    1. I like that idea and I have found myself doing that recently! Thanks for the idea even though it wasn't directed at me!

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  24. What a likeness!
    Blessings to all our life's teachers.
    I wish I had been an older grandchild.
    I came to be in the winter of my grandparents lives and vividly remember, young as I was, trying to absorb everything that they did, for they were, all of them, truly remarkably people. I mourn the passing of their life stories.
    At my request, my parents have written their own memories down to pass on to their grandchildren, so that when the fever of youth has passed and they yearn for more, it will be there.

    Vicki
    Trinidad & Tobago

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  25. Well they do say we all become our mother (or father)...I've always worried about that as my mother and I are very different people - but a CWA friend of mine assured me you become "an upgraded version" of your mother :) That way you can honour the positives and improve upon the negatives.

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  26. Beautiful words Rhonda

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  27. What a beautiful blog tribute to your mother! :) Lovely. (The photo is wonderful too!)

    Oh, if only I took my own mother's wisdom and applied it years ago... But at least I'm "there" now. I'm grateful for all the lessons - especially the ones she offered simply by doing. :)

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  28. Daria your words could have been mine. I'm now in my 60's but still feel the effects of my unhappy childhood. Like you I envy those who had happy childhoods, I felt it in my childhood and still feel it now. Something will always be missing, there will always be a lump in my throat.
    I feel lucky to have been given the opportunity to give my own children the happiness I didn't have.
    Hugs and understanding to you Daria.
    Janice

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