Marriage Matters

Wanted: A Handbook for Mothers

This article was posted on: May 8, 2020

The thing about being a mom is that you never really know how it’s going to go until you find yourself in the middle of it. About a year after we were married, I went to the doctor because I had a daily case of mild nausea that just wouldn’t quit. She informed me that I was three months pregnant.

Still in shock the following morning, I walked into work as white as a ghost. After telling my co-workers, they laughed and said, “Oh honey! We’ve known that for months.”

Before I became a mom I knew babies were cute but I never wanted to hold them or get too close. I thought puppies and kittens were far more endearing. All that changed the minute I laid eyes on our first child. With this tiny miracle in my arms, I had discovered the definition of love.

Surprisingly, I was pretty good at the baby/toddler stages. All day long, I’d scoop them up in my arms and cover them with kisses. I could basically solve any issue with a cookie and a book. But as the years progressed, kisses, cookies and books were no longer effective problem solvers.

Our four children were boys with similar interests but individually, they were uniquely wired. Just when I thought I had the “Mom Game” figured out, the rules seem to change and I was back to reading the directions.

I have to hand it to our sons; they were relentless when they wanted something. One afternoon I was having an argument with one of them. We were standing in the kitchen and although I am unable to remember the contentious issue, I vividly recall that for every legitimate, rational answer I had, he had a legitimate, rational response. We were getting nowhere. Suddenly, in the midst of the yelling, I had a light bulb moment.

I quietly said, “You think I know what I am doing.” He looked at me as if I had three heads and said, “Well, you act like you know what you are doing!” “Exactly,” I said. “I am acting. I do not know what I am doing.”

My honest admission altered our relationship. From that day on, I was able to share the undeniable fact with all our boys that although I did not have a “Bonanno Mothering Handbook” to follow, I was giving it my very best shot. To foster a bit of empathy, I always added, “Believe it or not, someday you will find yourself in the same spot.”

Years ago I was playing in the yard with our boys and feeling a bit discouraged. Watching us from her window, my elderly neighbor came out, walked gingerly across the grass, leaned over the fence and said, “I wish I had enjoyed my children the way you do.” Encouragement is a beautiful thing. It’s what moms do best.

Whether we’re mothering our own children or the child of a family member or friend, once God plants the seed of a child’s love in our hearts, we will forever nurture, comfort and hold them in prayer.

And as all mothers know, we will also be periodically confounded and eagerly searching for those ever evasive mothering handbooks and directions.

by Bernadette Bonanno

The Catholic Diocese of La Crosse
3710 East Ave. South
La Crosse, WI 54601

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