Mother | Madre | Mamma

Apr 28, 2023

Growing up my family resided in Pannaway Manor, “Pannaway” as its fondly called by its residents, is a masterful plan of developed farmland, a 150-home neighborhood constructed to house wartime workers after WW11. This development created a brilliant web of community, housing its own playground, school, corner store, a basic circle with cross streets set off the main Sherburne Road. Each home sat on a quarter of an acre, with the development sitting on old farmland, part of which edged my backyard with fields filled with blueberry bushes and fruit trees. This place would become my oasis.

The women of my neighborhood appeared to be extensions of their homes, aprons on, houses tidy, curtains fresh, meals planned, flowers planted. They were as diverse as their varied skin tones, with second languages spoken by grandparents, Russian, Italian, French, ethnic traditions ribboned from their homes. But it was the aromas of their kitchens that beckoned me to knock on their doors. Doughnuts frying, jams simmering, collard greens smoldering in smoky bacon, bread baking; The scents called me as I spun my bike around the hood.

I was aware that my home was different, that it was my Dad that held us together, that we were a unit. He ran our home as a 60’s “Father Knows Best” with his weekly systems for meals, groceries, laundry, housework. We were a well-oiled machine, with a clear definition of duties, we worked together until we were all finished so we could go play outside, dad included. This allowed him time for the game he loved, golf. Always a contender, a one-time club champion, his world revolved around golf; weekly league, weekend tournaments, practice nights,  Saturday night out at “the club”, all this after working a full week at the shipyard as a shop planner. He did his best, sent us to Catholic schools, made sure we had uniforms, blouses, socks, got us to church each week, taught us to keep our beds made, home clean, get dinner started so we could eat at our 5 o’clock sacred dinner hour each weekday. Our Dad was healthy, consistent, systematic, dependable, and committed to his family. Mom was another story.

My mother “struggled with life” we would say, “was not well”.  It’s a complicated tale as to why, for another day, as for now the reality was that she was absent for most of my childhood. This was a dramatic contrast from the neighborhood dynamic, as I grew, I saw and felt this difference as the mothers would pat my head with the phrase “poor dear”. I had a feeling I was a motherless child with a mother. Over the years my siblings went off to college, off to war, my independent nature grew strong. I was my own sounding board for right and wrong, clearly aware of consequences of behavior. I figured out how to take care of myself, to look ahead, to work, to be prepared.

I learned to listen to my own inner wisdom, to listen to my self, I learned to mother myself.

I was footloose and free, when I had time and space to be completely alone it was to the natural world that I was drawn. The woods and the fields would call me, I’d spend hours by myself in the blueberry fields, lying on my back watching the clouds go by. I felt at peace, one with nature, with songs in my head like “What the World Needs Now is Love Sweet Love”, Mother Nature brought me a connection and wonder like no other. I was never alone.  I discovered that mothering was not exclusive to she who birthed you, that Mother Nature is everyone’s mother and she nurtured me, embraced me, and has guided me in her seasonal rhythm to this day.

I learned that mothering does not necessarily always come from your mother. That it is also an action word. I was given a lot of love from my father, my siblings, my aunts and uncles, my family, my neighbors, my teachers, the nuns, and I deeply appreciated it. I learned that mothering could be adopted, that we “mother” others, spouses, children, friends, our pets, our plants…and that we can mother OURSELVES!

So as this annual day of honoring mothers’ approaches, remember mothering comes in many forms. Love your mother, honor your selves, respect Mother Nature, mother another!

In peace, and love,


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