Rod Smith is a family therapist who lives in the USA. He used to live in Durban; and in fact he is my friend's cousin's wife's uncle! ~ sorry Sandi, I just couldn't resist adding your comment in! :)
My mum (who is visiting from New Zealand) passed me Monday's Mercury and said "read this, he talks a lot of sense!" (Out of interest, I left home at the age of 17!). She was right, it does make a lot of sense ~ but, it got me thinking! Sure, I can relate with all that Mr Smith said ~ but, what happens when you have a special needs child? On the spur of the moment I sent him a quick email, without telling anyone in my family! I did think to myself "I wonder if he will write back?" and then promptly forgot all about it!
Today, late afternoon, I was pottering around in the kitchen, sorting out Nick and organising supper. My mother comes into the kitchen waving the newspaper in her hand......... she says, "Oy, this sounds like you!!"
Well, would you believe it, the dear man had published an edited version of my letter and replied! Oh my word, that man put a big lump in my throat and some tears in my eyes. Thank you so much Mr Rod Smith for your meaningful words, they are truly appreciated.
Here is Mr Smith's original post....
August 29, 2011
You and Me
by Rod Smith
It's a frequent theme in my office and in letters: "He'll always be my baby" or "Once a mother, always a mother," and, "A mother's work is never done." This is usually sighed rather than said. It usually precedes a story of a successful man or woman who seldom visits or contacts his or her mother.
These sentiments deserve challenge. There is no question that once you are someone's mother that is a fact - but mothering does end.
I'd suggest the healthier the mother, the earlier in her child's life, perhaps beginning around 16 and culminating at around 22, she plans to have worked herself out of a job.
It's replaced, and the transition is of course gradual, with becoming a respectful friend of one whom she has successfully mothered.
I know this is an unpopular thought. I know so many women are defined by their role as mother. I know I am challenging something primal.
But, successful mothering ends.
Healthy adult men and women want mothers to be friends, first. They don't want an adult who needs to be a mother in order to exist.
If the sighs cease and the lamenting ends perhaps adult sons and daughters will find staying in touch a whole lot more rewarding and meaningful.
Rod Smith is a family therapist who lives in the US. E-mail questions to Rod@DifficultRelationships.com
~*~Here is my email to Mr Smith.....
Dear Mr Smith
I read with interest your article in the Mercury Newspaper, dated August 29, 2011. You wrote about mothers and stated that successful mothering does end. I fully support all that you said and I feel that I am doing a great job with my 15 year old son. Don’t get me wrong, I adore my son, however, I am beginning to let go. I am excited about his future and the role that I play in his becoming an independent young man, who will one day in the near future leave us to spread his wings.
However, Mr Smith, I have a little problem! I also have a 12 year old son with severe autism. I also feel that I am doing a great job with him; however, this young man will not be spreading his wings. I am worried about his future and I am not sure that my mothering will end. We don’t have the facilities in
to accommodate my son. I really don’t think it is going to be possible to work myself out of this job. South Africa
Do you have any advice for me?
August 31, 2011
You and Me
by Rod Smith
"You wrote that successful mothering does end. I feel that I am doing a great job with my 15-year old son. I adore my son, however, I am beginning to 'let go'. I am excited about his future and the role that I play in his becoming an independent young man who will leave us to spread his wings.
However, I also have a younger son with severe autism. I also feel that I am doing a great job with him but this young man will not be spreading his wings. I am worried about his future and I am not sure that my mothering will end. We don't have the facilities in South Africa to accommodate my son. I really don't think it is going to be possible to work myself out of this job. Do you have any advice for me?"
Your letter moved me deeply. It shows once again that there are always exceptions to general measures of emotional and family wellness. Your letter also reveals the diversity and the beauty seen in families.
As your younger son grows up, and as you develop the support and community you need for your own support, you will all train each other and strengthen each other for the difficult and beautiful road ahead.