"The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common."
Do you think women's individuality is more or less than when you were my age? Is that good or bad?
Mom: Women are more independent, and it’s really good. Women are more confident and more trusting in themselves today.
What advice would you give to other widows, mothers, wives, and women?
Mom: Listen to your inner voice about all your relationships in life, whether with a partner, friend, family member, or co-worker. Our instincts are there for a reason.
What strength do you wish you had possessed in earlier parts of your life?
Mom: I wish I had been able to trust myself more and not doubt myself so often.
When did you feel the prettiest in your life? What made you feel that way?
Mom: When I got married for the first time, because he made feel so special. It was the respect and love he gave me; I never felt that before or since.
What three things do you think make for a quality life?
Mom: Love, sharing, and caring, as cliche as that sounds. (Here she lets out a melodious laugh.)
What do you think is the most important part of being a woman?
Mom: You can give life, if you so choose. That's a powerful thing all on its own.
How have the views on sexual assault (rape) and domestic abuse changed since you were my age?
Mom: They used to act like women were asking for it (rape) in some way. Most people assumed that she asked for it. Hopefully, that's changed. Most women wouldn't have even bothered reporting it because of the way they would be treated. A woman often seemed to feel she was to blame for the domestic abuse and would take the blame. Women have gotten stronger; we seem to be learning more and more that we aren't to blame. New laws and views on laws have helped us to find the strength and help in those areas.
Sex and Sexuality:
How do you think views on sex have changed since you were my age?
Mom: People are more open, informative and, knowledgeable about sex and safe sex. Back then no one talked about sex. It was all very hush-hush.
Do you think that's a good or bad thing?
Mom: It's a good thing because it's important to know what you're going be experiencing and your options surrounding sexuality.
What's the one piece of advice you would give me about sex and relationships?
Mom: Be cautious and knowledgeable about your partners.
What are your views on masturbation?
Mom: If you need it you need it. If you need release go for it just don't go do it in public where everyone can see. Be discreet. It's not for me; not something I think I would be comfortable doing.
Is there anything you regret not having asked your parents?
Mom: No, good god. My mother was fickle and sex wasn't something we could discuss. It felt as though we couldn't have an open conversation.
How do you feel about modern concepts of relationships and sexuality; polyamory, bi-sexuality, the average numbers of lovers a person normally has?
Mom: (On polyamory…) What I feel is that with that many people, what if you have more of an emotional connection with one person than the others? I don't understand how to be fair in those relationships. (Bi-sexuality) Everyone should have someone to love, and have a right to be loved, no matter the partner.
The average numbers of lovers a modern woman, or man, has today is twenty before marriage. How does that makes you feel?
Mom: It would be wrong for me to be with so many people, I've only had three lovers my entire life. But for other people, if it's what they want or need they should go for it.
How do you feel about transgenders/transsexuals/intersexuals(hermaphrodites)? It's not something that was so openly common in your youth.
Mom: I just feel that they should just be honest with their partners and loved ones about who they are. I know that it’s not easy but it’s still important.
Love and Marriage:
Who was your first love?
Mom: E.B., he was my first husband, too.
What do you feel went right or wrong with that relationship?
Mom: He loved me completely, that was very right. (She smiles sweetly remembering it.) What went wrong is that I lost him too soon.
What would you have changed about it?
Mom: Sometimes the relationship could feel one sided. I wasn't always present and it felt as though I was blamed too much for that fact. He also had a son from a previous marriage. I was never allowed to meet him or be a part of his life, and it hurt. I just wanted to be part of his life completely. Being denied that was painful. I just wanted to be able to meet and love his child, to be able to love the other part of him. No relationship is perfect all the time though.
What did you learn from the experience?
Mom: That nothing is permanent and things can happen in the blink of an eye, so you really do have to enjoy every minute together.
Thirty years after losing your first husband, how do you feel the experience affected your life?
Mom: Even after this long there's still that love there, for that one person, and no one can ever get rid of that. It was really a challenge to forgive myself for going on living.
Why did you choose to be with my father?
Mom: He wouldn't take no for an answer and hounded me until I said yes. (Again she laughs, a twinkle in her eyes.)
Was there someone you almost married instead of dad and sometimes wonder what would have happened “if”?
Mom: Not really, no. I was engaged once before I married E.B, his name was Joe. He had a drinking problem and I had issues with his family. I'm glad I didn't take that avenue.
How do you think the role as a wife has changed since you were my age?
Mom: A woman has more opportunities to go out and work and feel good about herself. Now she can reach for her own personal successes. A woman today has more options; she can be more than just a wife and mother. She can have it all.
What advice would you give to new wives?
Mom: Enjoy every day, even the imperfections of it. Let your husband know every day how much you appreciate and love them.
Advice for new widows?
Mom: Take time to grieve. I felt I was being rushed through the process. Don’t let anybody rush you. You have the right to miss and grieve for the love you've lost.
When did you realize you were no longer a child?
Mom: When I was 24 and had my first child. Having responsibility over another life tends to make you grow up pretty quickly.
Do you think it’s easier or harder to be a mother now than when you were raising our family?
Mom: Harder, because things were simpler back then. Now there are too many laws constricting your behaviors in disciplining your children. And there are much more risks for children's safety and morality today.
What was the best and worst part of being a mother?
Mom: Your children are a joy, but sometimes they're a chore. It's exhausting and there are times when I felt lost and a little out of control. I really had thought I could handle it. (She laughs at herself remembering.)
In your experience, what is the biggest myth about motherhood?
Mom: That you're always sure of yourself and confident. That you know what you're doing. No one knows what they're really doing.
What advice would you give to new mothers?
Mom: To realize not everything is really perfect and you're not going to always be perfect.
What’s the one thing you would have done differently as a mom?
Mom: I would have been a better mother, more patience and listening.
Do you think you've done better as parent than your mother did?
Mom: It's just different. She worked all the time and I was a stay-at-home mom. Overall, I think I did better because I was there for my children more often.
In what ways do you think I'm like you?
Mom: You're really different from me. You're stronger. You know what you want, and you don't show any self-doubt. You know the way you want to be and what you want to be. You like reading and music; we look a little alike. (This statement brought tears to my eyes. I really had no idea my mother thought so highly of me.)
Is there anything you have always wanted to tell me but never have?
Mom: No, I'm pretty open with you.
Is there anything that you wish had been different between us, or that you would still like to change?
Mom: No, I'm used to the way you are and we're comfortable together.
What are 5 things you wouldn't want me to do?
Mom: Well number one, kill someone. After that, steal, harm a child, maliciously hurt someone with words or actions, and then take pleasure from harming others. Other than that I could forgive you anything.
After covering so much ground with my mom, I asked if there was anything else she had to add to any of this.
She said on the subject of motherhood, “It’s the most joyous thing.” Her face lights up when she talks about her kids and grand-kids.
On womanhood, mom finishes by declaring, “Enjoy being and having the freedom to be a woman.”
When it comes to sex and love she says, “sex can be a wonderful thing with the right partner, especially if they aren't selfish and are giving. Through love you can experience the greatest sex you've ever had. That's what makes it so special.”
Learning all this from my mom has made me really appreciate my independence and the choices I’m able to make. I feel thoroughly lucky to be able to talk to her about these things and know I can get advice on anything that comes my way in life.