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Proud mom moments

By MIMI BECKER

Coffee with Mimi

Mother’s Day was a month ago. We spent the whole day with all our children, their spouses and our grandchild on the Saturday before the Sunday and some of us gathered with my mom on Sunday — a perfect weekend. 

Actually, my siblings and I gather throughout the year, though we are scattered about. Some members of my family are quite traditional and expect to observe notable events on the named days.

I have recounted previously how I feel about that. I’m completely flexible. Are we all in the same place at one time, anytime, for any reason? Hooray! I am more than content when that happens, anytime. I am understanding of schedules and diverging needs of family members. 

I am wise to be so, as I have more than once placed my own schedule needs at the top of the priority list and missed “official” gatherings. I am not less a mom,if we are not together on Mother’s Day.

My youngest child is now just a few months from her 30th birthday. Her great-grandfather would have already teased her by saying she is in her 30th year.  It was one of his favorite things to say to a grandchild. At the time, the child would have been tickled to be a year older.  I know my daughter is not tickled to be staring the big 3-0 in the face so quickly.  For whatever reason, turning 30 has major implications.  Have goals been met? Is the career ladder climbed? What’s in the bank? Would our parents be proud?

When our children were little, proud mom moments were abundant and obvious: a good report card, sweet dance recital, kind gesture to a neighbor, successful sports outing. Shelves of trophies, piles of newspaper clippings and stacks of certificates are still hanging around to commemorate many of these moments.

As the children grow up and out, there are fewer proud mom in person moments. They aren’t living right under our noses for us to be on hand for the public accolades. Sometimes we get our information from their co-workers or other family members about a child’s promotion or honor. It can be disconcerting to be informed by a near perfect stranger that your son or daughter has been named to a new position and everybody at work just “loves” him, or her. The adult child managed that all on his or her own and with no parent as witness. 

As parents we bask in the glow of our children’s successes on a different level.  The shelves full of trophies from 10-and-under soccer or the open relays are still reminders of barriers crossed, lessons learned and hurdles cleared successfully and happily. They were proud moments for child and parent alike. We wanted to be there, and mostly were, for every special moment, cheering and clapping.

It is not only inappropriate, but embarrassing to the adult child if Mom is whooping it up in the lobby when a pay raise is announced or a new title is granted. When Mom is informed, the acceptable reaction is a sedate, “How nice, dear. I’m proud of you.” Preferably uttered from some other place or over the phone. 

But, when Mom’s day is done, the sweetest and proudest moments are those which are not measured by a physical or tangible reward.  The proudest moments are when an adult child recognizes the value and personal meaning of being an independent grown-up.

It is a good thing, certainly, that adult children are independent and secure. I remind each of them that my comfortable retirement is dependent on their independence. They surely don’t want me living in their basements, and long-term nursing home care gets pricey. Folks in my family live well into their 90s.

But, the proudest mom moments are watching, sometimes from afar while in the same room, as your adult child makes difficult choices grounded in long ago lessons. They may not remember the moment that particular lesson was learned, but Mom does.

When your grandchild graduates from the “everybody gets a blue ribbon” category, to possibly not getting one at all because other competitors were judged better, how does the child’s father react in the midst of the little one’s meltdown?

When it becomes quite apparent that a life-altering decision needs to be made, how does the adult child analyze the choices and weigh the merits of each potential choice?

When core personal beliefs are challenged or ignored by others, how and when does the grown-up child respond? 

At the end of a day when there will be no trophy awarded or public proclamation of success, how will my adult child move on, moving to the beat of his or her own drum, as the saying goes?

These are the most dangerous and rewarding mom moments. You know there is stuff going on.  There are either multiple phone calls, or no phone calls. The particular moment may be a complete surprise, but when it happens, you couldn’t be a more proud mom.