The Women

I get lots of compliments for being a “good mom.” And man, I’ll take them, because no one can say that I don’t put in the hours and the work. But I also don’t do it alone. For the men in my life, you’ll get your moment next month, but for today, on Mother’s Day, I want to focus on the women.

A stack of rocks placed in meditation fashion beside a rippling creek with bright green wild grass in the background.

For many years, as a teenager and starting into my twenties, I foolishly thought that being a strong woman meant being forceful and sometimes even rude, and that was a little true for some of the situations that I found myself in. But gradually, I lost the need to raise my voice just to be heard. I proved myself by being good at what I do, working hard, and patience.

I was 37 before my first child was born, and the great thing about being that age is having patience. Not only with your child, but with the world around you, because everyone has a bit of advice – from the cashier at Walmart to every relative that shares a drop of blood with you. It can be hard to pick and choose the good advice from the slush pile.

My husband and I began with the end in mind – we wanted our girls to grow into strong women so they could protect themselves, but we wanted them to also be kind and empathetic to those who didn’t have all of their advantages. We wanted them to be comfortable in their own skin and ready to take on the world. If there is a job to be done, let their hands be the first ones to reach out to help. Honestly, the list of what we wanted is longer than I can probably manage in one short piece.

And if you’ll forgive a moment of boasting, I think we’re getting there. But we definitely didn’t do it alone.

The women in my girls’ lives have a wide range of interests and influences. But I can easily say that they are all strong. They have experienced loss and yet keep moving forward, even if sometimes it’s with gritted teeth. They are all beautiful and show that you don’t have to wear makeup to be naturally beautiful – and sometimes, the best look is that fresh-from-the-river look where you might be a little grubby, a little fishy-smelling, with sun-kissed cheeks and a smile on your face.

They teach that the best food comes straight from the garden, and the greatest way to say I love you is with a freshly baked cake, from scratch of course. The women in the lives of our girls demonstrate the pure joy of throwing down some newspaper on a picnic table and digging into a low country boil.

Being together does not always mean spending money, or big trips, or even being away from home. It can be an afternoon at a swimming pool, or it can be curling up on a sofa with a blanket to watch a horror movie that I, as their mother, refuse to watch because I think the world is scary enough, thank you very much. It can be playing cards or board games or chess, and oh, the girls are learning some strategies for life and didn’t even realize it!

The women believe in the necessity of art – whether it be dancing, singing, playing piano, drawing, sewing, crocheting, or embroidery. Being comfortable in your own skin may mean getting up on stage and pretending to be someone else.  Or that art doesn’t have to be traditional – it can be a thought-provoking little piece that’s half driftwood and half jewelry. Pick your art for today – the important thing is to imagine and create.

The point that I am trying to make is that the girls do not learn all of these things from me alone. I do try to demonstrate all the positive qualities as well as letting them see that it is permitted to cry and have a bad day, as long as you pick yourself up and keep going. But while the world rushes in with lots of negatives, I am so extraordinarily grateful to the women in my life who guide our girls through life, sometimes just by being themselves. Happy Mother’s Day.

And to my girls, who make every day of my life something to be remembered, thank you for making me a mom.

Author: creek2river

Cheryl Kula lives on a mountain in WV with her husband, Ted, and her two daughters. After years of assuming that her children would always have four legs, she is now a happy mother of two precocious daughters. Her first children's book is Play Day with Daddy.

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