It takes a passel of women to raise a child


In some corners of the world, it takes a village to raise a child. In my world, it takes a whole passel of women — pseudo moms to my daughters. Yes, I know I’m their mom and technically, I am the one who raised them. Okay, sure, their dad had a little to do with it. But it’s Mother’s Day. He’ll get his own day in June.

So okay, today is Mother’s Day and since I’m a mom, I’m celebrating. But I’m also keenly aware that there are a lot of women I should be thanking today for their contribution to my daughters’ lives. Without those women, they’d never have become the hard-working, caring, socially responsible young women that they are.

Reflecting on this thought during my morning trek around town, a list of names began to form in my mind. Lists are dangerous — one always forgets someone important. But still. A list is the easy way out. So here goes.

1. My mother. Grandma P. spent countless hours with the girls — beginning in their pre-school years — teaching them to play piano. Under her patient instruction, they learned to read music, whole steps and half steps, sharps and flats, notes and beats. She introduced them to classical music, but encouraged them to play whatever they wanted — including the popular stuff they sometimes preferred. And when their lessons were over, she helped them sew and bake surprises for us.

2. My mother-in-law, Grandma S. retired from her nursing career to care for the girls so we could work. She read to them, sang them to sleep, made sure their favorite snacks were ready when they got home from school, and proved that even octogenarians can be feminists.

3. Babysitters. There were a lot of them over the years, like Jane Amstutz and Brenda Byers — busy moms with their own children. For the most part, though, they were high school and college students. Like Caroline (Kruse) Dawson, who gave her entire set of Barbie blow-up furniture to the girls — Anne was convinced she had the best collection in the world because it was vintage.

4. Reema Bazzy. Their “godmother”. (Yes, I realize Mennonites don’t have godmothers but if we did, Reema would be it.) Reema introduced the girls to the international world, making sure they spent time with her college friends — Pramesh was a favorite. Like Grandma S., she represents feminism and individuality at its best. When Reema took off for her first law position, she made sure her two sisters — Lubna and Adla — would keep the Steiner girls on track.

5. Teachers. There were so many, beginning with Mrs. Jordan in nursery school — she of unending patience and kindness. Mrs. Jacoby, Mrs. Ault, Mrs. Riffle, Mrs. Garmon — all of whom shared one common trait — each recognized from her own parenting experiences that sisters are very much different, and made every effort to encourage each one to follow her own path.

6. Susie Stratton. Our connection goes way back to pre-child days. Susie was my own mentor when she was my so-cool resident advisor during college. When we had boyfriend problems, it was she who taught us a song that put men in the proper perspective. So when the girls were ready for their first real jobs, there was no one I’d trust more that Susie. She mentored them, introduced them to marketing, retail, and the importance of knowing one’s product. More importantly, she listened to them. And worried about them. Still does, I imagine.

So there you have it. I could keep going but if I do, Mother’s Day will be but a blip on the horizon when I finish. Suffice to say…it does take a passel of women to raise a child.

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4 responses to “It takes a passel of women to raise a child

  1. Ok ok…..you tempt us with this: ” who taught us a song that put men in the proper perspective” then you don’t tell us the words!!!!!
    As my Grandmother used to say: “Do TELL”!

  2. Pannabecker Steiner Mary

    Ha! I’ll have to e-mail that one to you.

  3. This reminds me — Bruce Feiler’s new book, Council of Dads, I should read it.

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