A Real Mother

Grocery shopping with 5 kids in tow is always an adventure
photo credit: Morgan

The other day, I was standing in the line at customer service in Walmart with all five of my children, waiting my turn when a dear grandmotherly lady in front of me struck up a conversation. Here in New England, my family size is a bit of an anomaly, and as I always have all five with me, I don’t ever get through a shopping trip without at least one or two stops from grandmothers who want to talk about me, my family size, the fact that the smallest one is a girl and are we done now that we got our girl?

I don’t mind it most of the time. I try to be bright and positive about my family, and our choices as the children beat upon each other and run about like monkeys set loose.

This day was no exception, and as they orbited around (the smallest three contained in the cart and carrier), the lady wanted to talk about her family. I find this is also frequently the case. Something about my family strikes a chord in their heart from their own.

She spoke of her family growing up of fourteen children, telling me how three of the children had died in childhood (I’ll spare you the details that she didn’t spare me), and now, many years later, the eleven remaining all live around here, ranging in age from 80-56.

Then the topic turned to her mother. With her eyes shining with tears, she said of a the woman now departed, reverently, “She was a real mother.”

Soon we parted ways and went about our individual lives. But I haven’t been able to shake the conversation since.

A real mother.

In my heart of hearts, I know I can be a better mother, more patient, more kind, more long-suffering. I can use kinder tones and a gentler hand plenty of times.

But am I a real mother? Will my children forget my grumpiness, or my short-tempered days? Will they remember the traditions we’ve built, and the moments of laughter? I know that much of my childhood memories are happy moments, and beautiful things, and I hope the same for my children.

Will they, in six decades, stop young mothers in the store and tell them about our family life? Will they be happy to remember?

Will they simply remember that I was a real mother? I think, if they do, that it will be enough.

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Morgan Hagey is a writer-mom of five kids living on a little plot of land in rural New Hampshire. She and her husband are currently writing a book about Perfection and the Gospel. See more of her here and here

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