A Mother and A Daughter: Two Generations Speak
By Grandma Ellen, Ellen Baron Blaustein
Ellen, Mother and Grandmother
I was eighteen years old and a freshman in college when my husband proposed to me. He sat me down on his knee and told me that he wanted me to be his wife and the mother of his children. “The mother of his children?! I thought. Oh, well. That idea will go away.
I was nineteen years old when we married. By the time I graduated from college two years later, my three-month-old daughter, Laura, accompanied me to the graduation ceremony.
It is that baby girl, now a grown woman and the mother of her own daughter (my granddaughter, Madeleine) who shares her thoughts on motherhood with IFMag readers this month of May, in which we celebrate all mothers, and I honor the mother my daughter has become.
Laura, A Daughter’s Thoughts on Motherhood
After nine months of gestation and nine years of motherhood, I’m still in denial. Instead of the sedate taupe sedan with the booster seat, I should be driving a red convertible with no back seat. Rather than accept my altered station in life, I keep a closet full of party clothes I never use. I fool myself into believing I could still lead the quintessential “single girl in the city” life” (albeit with a rather wrinkled neck and a slightly crepey belly button – the result of pregnancy weight) by maintaining an exercise regime and having my rapidly-graying hair dyed every month to some approximation of its original shade. Every time I hear “Momma” coming from my daughter’s direction, I cringe just a little.
It may be genetic. I’m told one of my grandmothers was none too pleased at the news of my impending arrival. Then in what she probably considered the prime of her life, she had no use for the role of “grandmother”. In fact, we always called her Nana. In spite of her reticence, she gave a lot of time and energy to me.
My mother was another story. She genuinely took to motherhood; with help from her mother, who was so devoted to me that she began babysitting when I was six weeks old. There is a photograph of the three of us along with my grandmother’s mother, and everyone looks happy.
There were times, like the five days I spent crying on an Atlantic crossing, when I’m sure my mother wished she’d steered clear of motherhood. But in spite of having a difficult daughter, my mother seemed to like her lot.
I wanted a different life: a career and only myself to answer to. At the ripe old age of 33 I realized most of my friends had paired off and started families. All I had was a great job and a glamorous though slightly unfulfilling life.
My husband saved me; on our first date we discussed childrearing philosophies. I guess I was finally ready to embark on the motherhood voyage.
I spent my pregnancy in disbelief – never bought a stitch of maternity wear, and doubted the nurse who phoned to tell me the baby was fine and a girl. A GIRL! Even in my disbelief I was thrilled.
It wasn’t until my daughter was three years old and I was invited to sit in on her “play dance” class that a hint of reality set in. I realized how lucky I was to have joined the club of mothers of daughters. All those cute toddlers prancing around in adorable pink tutus, and one of them was mine!
I still can’t arrange hair for dance recitals, and I’ll never know how I survived a year as PTO president while still serving as chauffeur to piano, horseback riding, and ice skating lessons; dance classes; and soccer games. But I hope I will continue growing into the role of mother until it’s my turn to join the grandmothers’ club and I set out on my next adventure in fostering future generations.
My daughter has been rehearsing for her wedding for years and has plans for a large brood. I am bracing for the inevitable and hoping I measure up to the fine examples of the women in the photo.
Ellen Baron is a wife, mother and grandmother who has had three distinctive careers:
1) as an editor at an educational laboratory;
2) as a businesswoman who ran a private-label group at Black & Decker, and then served as Director of Marketing for a consumer electronics start-up company; and
3) as an academic administrator who was director of a post-baccalaureate business program.
Her 'Just Jobs' (as opposed to "Careers") included piano teacher and French tutor (her undergraduate degree from Washington University in St. Louis having been in French).
Now retired from both careers and jobs, Ellen serves on the Maryland State Attorney Grievance Commission, as well as the Boards of several non-profits. She has lived in England, Switzerland and Germany, as well as St. Louis, Boston, a suburb of Washington, D.C., and, now, Baltimore, MD.