Kathleen Loreto Early Grignon, my youngest niece has always been a delight — and a handful!
All of her sisters could fairly be described that way. They have all always been joys to me and good friends. It’s just that through her humor and impishness, Kathleen always managed to push the “handful” dimension a little beyond the rest.
When Kathleen was in her teen years, I often said to her and of her that I hoped she would one day have a daughter just like herself. Then she would know exactly what she put her mother through for all those years.
I thought of that kidding back and forth today when I received an e-mail message from Kathleen, which I quote in part with her permission, “We are all doing well. Kevin (her first born) has been testing me a lot lately. I am doing my best to keep my cool. But it’s hard at times. I guess I have to remember that he is only 3. Mom gave me a few pointers, after I asked, of course! And what she says seems to be working. Go figure!! Jenny (the one-year-old daughter of Kathleen and husband, Mark) is almost walking. She pulls herself up and stands in the same spot for what seems like hours and gives me her (two-tooth) smile. She wore the jeans you got her for her birthday today and a shirt that Grace got her that read, ‘Everybody loves a blue eyed girl’. It looks really cute on her”.
I always enjoy hearing from my nieces. Kathleen’s message today was especially welcome because it arrived just as I was sitting down to write this column in observance of Mother’s Day.
Not being a parent myself, I have no way of fully understanding the breadth and depth of what it means to be a parent, let alone to be a mother. Judging by what I have observed and have been told by mothers over the years, motherhood can be a source of deep and abiding joy. But it can also be challenging and quite demanding. I have no trouble believing that, not a bit. To attend to little ones the ages of Kevin and Jenny, it would seem to me, demands a degree of attention that’s hard to imagine without a good deal of self-sacrifice.
I also enjoyed another element of Kathleen’s note — the intergenerational one. Kathleen and her mother are not just mother and daughter. They are good friends. So I loved the respectful way in which both attended to the testing to which Kevin has been putting his mother:
“Mom, can you help with this?”
“Why don’t you try this and see what happens?”
“Gee, thanks! That worked. How did you learn all of that?”
You’ll understand that I created the above exchange in an attempt to convey a sense of two mothers putting their heads together to find the best way to serve the growth of a child they both love. No intrusion or butting in here. Just an openness to seek advice and a willingness to share maternal experience.
Kathleen’s note evoked memories of her growth and her mother’s devotion to her when Kathleen was growing up. I am grateful for that, as I am for the witness of their mother-daughter friendship in Kathleen’s adulthood.
I am sure that this Mother’s Day celebration will hold memories for all of you as we celebrate this day, which has become so important in our culture. If you are a mother, please accept my very best wishes today. Whoever you are, please greet your mother on this day for me.
Before this day on which I write comes to an end, my niece Jane and her daughters, Julie and Megan, will come to visit.
I have not seen Julie and Megan since Thanksgiving. Seven months is a big chunk of the life of girls aged 12 and 10. I can’t wait to see them.
In anticipation of their visit, I wanted to get a small gift and consulted with my niece Grace. Grace recommended cosmetics for Julie and a camouflage shirt for Megan. Different ages? Yes. Different personalities? No doubt. I look forward to seeing the girls and learning more about the joys and demands of motherhood.
Peace to all.