I'm working with Procter & Gamble to help promote their Thank You Mom Contest, a campaign which is refreshingly designed to celebrate motherhood. When they invited me to work with them, they granted me tons of creative freedom -- so I saw it as the perfect opportunity to launch The Motherhood Project, featuring written and photographic portraits of women who have adult children, and who have both experienced being a mother and had themselves been well-mothered. I came up with 9 questions about mothering and motherhood, and every other Friday through November I'll be sharing the answers, portraits and stories of some really special, beautiful women. I hope you enjoy them.
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Michelle and I used to work together at a software company: I was assistant general counsel, Michelle was a marketing business analyst whose office was right across the hall from mine. In the year we worked together, it always seemed that the more tense a situation, the calmer and more level-headed Michelle became. There were several occasions when Michelle talked me down from the ledge, and helped me work through a perceived injustice that had sent me around the bend. She was a great colleague and a good friend.
I also knew that Michelle was very close to her daughter, and she was a doting grandmother. And so, while we no longer work together, when I decided to do The Motherhood Project, I knew immediately that I wanted to include my friend here among these beautiful women.
Here's what she had to say about motherhood.
How old are your adult kids? I have two girls: Christina, 30; and Angelina, 24.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words? Giving, caring, inspiring.
What makes you different? My life is a continual journey with many ups and down that have changed me each time. Each change is a life lesson that has given me the chance to inspire myself and others. I am different because I accept and embrace change.
I always have strong memories associated with scent. What scents or smells will always remind you of your mom? The scents I remember most are Jergen's lotion and Ivory bar soap and detergent. It takes me back to my childhood. I can still see and smell the soap in the kitchen and in the bathroom very vividly in my mind.
What makes your mother beautiful? When I thought about this, I thought of a picture of my Mother for her engagement. When I looked at it again, I realized that what makes her beautiful is her caring and passion for life that radiates from that photo.
Tell me about a time when your mother taught you a life lesson, or gave you advice that you hold close. When I was pregnant with my youngest daughter, I was bound and determined I was going to have a natural delivery -- no anesthesia -- after having a C-section with my first. My Mother taught and supported me at that time to do what you feel is right for yourself and trust those feelings we get in the pit of our stomach. During the delivery my Mother was straddled behind me on the bed helping me push. Her Mother was standing at my feet with my oldest daughter watching as the baby's head was crowing, with my husband at my side. Four generations of women in one room for a beautiful life experience.
What skills did you learn from your mom that you made certain to use when mothering your own children? Having respect for myself and others and passing this to my children.
Your kids are adults now -- and while you, of course, still love and support your kids, your job raising them is complete. What issues do you see brand new parents facing that you never had to face when you were raising your own? Parents today have to compete with so many things that are outside the family nucleus; influences that are out of their control from the outside world. Keeping their children from growing up too fast is a huge challenge. Parents themselves have to learn so much to keep their children safe.
What advice would you give to someone who is still trying to figure out this parenting thing? I would advise them to let their children be little. Keep them from doing too much too soon. Also, have special times that you set aside for just them, and make the special memories meaningful. Have traditions that can be passed along. As they get older, take one evening a week to spend with them, and just talk.
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Thanks so much to Michelle for sharing her thoughts on motherhood. Also, special thanks to Procter & Gamble for their generous sponsorship of The Motherhood Project: to read more stories about motherhood and to share your own, click here for more details on the Thank You Mom campaign, now through the end of November.
And on that note, have a great weekend everyone. Don't forget to call your mom.
Images: Michelle, photographed September 13, 2010 at La Madeleine restaurant in Houston, Texas. Nikon D300 with 50mm lens.