Motherhood and The Duty of Family

Three Generations- Granddaughter, Grandmother, Great Grandmother

Duty: obligatory tasks, conduct, service, or functions that arise from one’s position (as in life or in a group)-i.e. was his duty to support his family. Source

It has been four years since I left my full time job to help my mom. In that time I have been through many things and learned much about patience, acceptance, and gratitude. I have started a small business, penned a book, experienced the joy of another grandchild, and spent consistent and overflowing amounts of time with my mom.

In this time with my mom, I often reflect about the two decades devoted to the raising of my two children. They are now beautiful young adults, responsible and contributing members of society.  They are good kids with big hearts. I couldn’t ask God for more and yet He gave me two amazing grandchildren as well.

I remember back to my child rearing days and I’m grateful for a husband who loves and adores his kids. Jim has always been a good provider, often working long shifts and weekends. Many times the kids and I were on our own, attending parties and functions without Dad in tow.

Though I deeply loved my children, I remember feeling at times the need to go to the top of a mountain and sit there for a while. Maybe I’d be quiet, maybe I’d scream, maybe I’d pack a lunch and eat it all by myself without interruption. Even as the kids got older and more independent, the responsibility of them continued (and really still continues to this day). It is a juggle to nurture and encourage our young and adult children without stifling them. I like to think of it as a balance to allow them to be themselves but within the social boundaries of society.

I see my duties with my mom as much of that same responsibility. Sometimes the nurturing and encouraging is on her part, sometimes it’s on mine. I am making the same sacrifices I did thirty years ago. Living on less financially, saying No to things I don’t have time for or basically cannot afford. As an oldest child, this is how I was raised. My sense of duty and responsibility to my family is deeply rooted.

My mother told me once that when I was in elementary school I often brushed my sisters’ hair and helped get them ready for school. I remember consistently looking out for them whenever we were playing or when my parents were not around. My dad told me I was the one they would look up to and to behave accordingly. I may not have behaved in my teenage- hood but I certainly did in my later years.

It is hard for me to describe my views on the caretaking of my mother to others who are not caretakers themselves or not “the oldest child.” I can see the lack of understanding on their faces and part of my acceptance is knowing that they simply cannot understand how it truly is. If you are the oldest or only child and/or the current caretaker of an elderly or aging parent (or even grandchildren), you do understand (and I’d love to hear from you). I am blessed in that I have a couple of dear friends who truly know what it is like. They are my saving grace.

With my mom’s 88th birthday fast approaching, I want to say how much having the experience of spending time with her has meant to me. She is my biggest cheerleader, best friend, and confident. Remember to spend time with your mom this coming Mother’s Day. If that is not possible then be with someone you truly enjoy.

“Motherhood is a choice you make everyday, to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you’re not sure what the right thing is…and to forgive yourself, over and over again, for doing everything wrong.”
Donna Ball, At Home on Ladybug Farm

Read more of my writing at the Orthodox Christian Network. Click HERE for the link.

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13 thoughts on “Motherhood and The Duty of Family

  1. MamaMickTerry

    Dearest Joanne,
    You have me in tears – so many feelings in this piece.
    I’m the oldest of 5, my mom just had hip surgery and I’ve got to spend some quality time with her lately. My dad had a heart attack last year and it feels like suddenly we are in the “next phase” of life.
    You have helped me tackle perfection, be more grateful, and enjoy the little things. Perhaps the next step will be to grab a spot on that mountain top next to you. I’ll bring snacks ❤️❤️

    Reply
    1. Joanne Cain Post author

      I am here rooting for you! And I’d love to sit on top of that mountain and have snacks with you! I didn’t realize you were an “oldest”. Take care of yourself so you can take care of them. Remember that. 😉 Love you, Joanne

      Reply
  2. Cindy

    Joanne, wow I am having a hard time finding the words to describe the powerful feelings and emotions that touched my heart as I read this beautiful inspirational writing. Iam an only child, & I was the sole caretaker for both my parents! In fact, I quit my teaching job when they were both diagnosed with advanced stages of cancer. I am so blessed, as were my parents, that my husband worked right along with me. It was truly a labor of love! After my dad passed in his late 80’s , my mom eventually came to live with us until she passed at age of 95. My mother was also my biggest cheerleader, best friend and confident and she taught me, through her selfless & kind example, how to be a mom. Jim & I shared the duties with his brother, & our wonderful sister-in-law, in caring for his mom. I was blessed to have them both in my life, and caring for them is just something that I personally felt a sense of responsibility to, and it also something I wanted to do. ( at times difficult, but so rewarding). 💖As far as being a mother to two sons, Donna Ball’s quote express my feelings on motherhood to a tee! Joanne, you are a wonderful person, mother, sister, daughter and grandmother! What a fine example you are setting for your children! Blessing to you

    Reply
    1. Joanne Cain Post author

      Dear Cindy, thank you so much for your comments! <3 I can see that you understand my point of view, especially after caring for your mother and father, and then Jim's mom (wow). Quitting your job to help them was not easy I'm sure. I too thought Donna Ball's comment was right on and perfect for this post. Thank you for all your encouragement and love. xo Joanne

      Reply
    1. Joanne Cain Post author

      Ms. Child, you are one of the most terrific grandmothers I know! I love all your special things that you make and think of for your family. God bless you. <3 Joanne

      Reply
  3. Cathy McElhaney

    Joanne…you have always been an inspiration to me! I am the middle child, but the care for my parents, when they were sick, fell on me and my younger sister. My niece helped a lot with my mom when she was in Arizona, until she wanted to go back to PA, where my sister took care of her…for about 2 weeks and she called me and said she couldn’t do it without help..she had a full time job and 2 kids at home, so I flew up for 2 weeks to help and to find someone to help out when I couldn’t be there. I also had a family here in Texas to care for. I was blessed to have gotten to be back there for her last week of life. I was holding her hand as she took her last breath and I would not have wanted to be anywhere else.
    It was much more difficult with my dad. He came here to Texas 5 years ago to be near me. When his health deteriorated quite rapidly, I was the only one here. My sister came in from PA the last 4 days of his life. The Hospice nurse called me to tell me he was taking his last breaths and even though I was just 1 mile away, I didn’t make it in time. To make things more difficult, I have the 4 grand kids that I am raising, the real fear of my son and daughter in law overdosing and dealing with the unexpected death of my older sister, which I learned was from an overdose of the Fentanyl patches she was prescribed by her doctor. I know it was an accident because she was OBSESSIVE about making sure she had enough to get through the month…she was terrified that her drug test would be ‘off’ and they would take them away. Our very last conversation was centered around those patches.
    Thankfully, my health has improved remarkably and I am no longer on any heart meds, except the cholesterol pill (even though mine was never high!) and my diabetes is well in control. So that is one thing I don’t need to worry about! The oldest grand child is in that dreaded 7th grade, with all the attitude and hormones! I am NOT looking forward to the girls hitting puberty! I never had to deal with girls going through it, just my 2 boys! Parenting the second time around is NOT easier! Not at all!
    Enjoy your mom while you have her, enjoy being a grandma (some of us don’t get to do that) and enjoy your time with Jim!

    Reply
    1. Joanne Cain Post author

      Cathy, I think you are the inspiration. Thank you so much for sharing your caretaking story. We have known each other a long time and I’ve always known you to be a caretaker like me. You have been through so much. <3 I am glad to hear your health has improved! I am trying to take care of mine as best I can. This year I turn 60 in November. I can't believe that milestone is just around the corner! I hear you about the hormones of your grandchildren. Gavin is 16 and he is there (haha). Michelene is doing a terrific job with him. I am really proud of her. Good to hear from you! God bless! xo Joanne

      Reply
  4. Bessie

    I love your mom..please tell her my mom Athena says hello and sends her love…I feel same way about my mom and cherish every second with her

    Reply

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