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“Mom” as Personal Identity: Amy’s 30-Year Conversation with Her Mother


This post originally appeared on my blog StyleSubstanceSoul.com.

Growing up to be a mom. This is a theme that has dominated, not always pleasantly I might add, many of my conversations with and thoughts of my mom throughout my life. My mom’s experience typified that of her generation. She often recounts the choices — or lack thereof — and expectations of “girls like her.” She was certainly smart enough and capable enough to be deserving of an excellent college education — to be used for the sole purpose of “back up” for when her children were grown or if something, God forbid, happened to her husband so she would have something to “fall back on.” Educational options encouraged? Teacher or nurse. Almost as often as my mom reminds me of this, she points out how different things would have been if she were a few years younger. She just missed the hippie, sexual revolution of the ’60s. Naturally, there are women my mother’s age who had more “liberated” experiences, but my mother was not one of them.


Not interested in teaching or nursing, my mom headed enthusiastically into motherhood at the age of 21. After all, she recounts, she was married to her high school sweetheart and love of her life, and my dad had a job making $65.00 a week. Most importantly, my mom wanted to be a mom. She always imagined herself as a mom; she loved babies and always babysat for her younger cousins. She was and is a nurturer. Both my parents were committed to doing a better job than their parents had done and they set out to make a family on their own, their own way. To say they surpassed on every level both sets of their parents and their own expectations is an understatement.


My mom shined as a mother. Not only was she a natural, but she was also driven. If she was going to do something, she was going to do it to the best of her ability. And she did. She, in her own words, “loved making nice!” She still does. On one occasion I had a friend from out of town coming to stay with me. To say his background was the opposite of mine does not begin to describe our differences. I was a bit nervous and self-conscious about my home, lovely as it was, and about my family. After his first night at our house, he said, “Mrs. Krause, I keep expecting the Poppin’ Fresh Dough Boy to come dancing out of your oven.” That pretty much summed it up! The funny thing was, I was mortified by that reality, but he said it as if it was a good thing! My mom certainly thought it was. She took pride in her role and the job she did. She enjoyed and was/is fulfilled being a mom.


That is not to say that she didn’t have struggles and conflicts within herself about wanting more, playing a different role in society at large, contributing on a different level, applying her skills and talents in a way that was regarded more highly by the world in which she found herself living in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s — not to mention by her own children (at least this child) who were products of those times. But she always thought that any role should be in addition to, not instead of, the role she valued most, lacked most in her own life and was destined to succeed at above all — that of Mom.

However misguided it turned out to be, the message I got as a teenager in the ’70s was that the role of mother was not enough for “real” women, for “modern” women. Oh no, we were not going to “waste” our talents, our skills, or our energy by repeating the lives of our mothers. In fact, I was under the impression that my options were limitless, but did not include or should not include becoming a mother. Certainly not becoming “only” a mother. Perhaps after I had done whatever it was I decided

to do, if I excelled at it, achieved success, then maybe I could “have it all” and only then become a mother. The pressure I felt was intense. And it was in direct conflict with my mom, whose role and ambition in life was to be a mom. Luckily for both of us, times changed, I changed, and while I fought the idea and reality of motherhood at first, I have come to embrace wholeheartedly my own motherhood and mother.

And after many successful and fulfilling years in the business world, and time spent exploring her other interests and desire to contribute through volunteering, my mom has also come full circle, embracing her role as “mom” and her most prized role as “grandma.” When our oldest daughter, Sophie, was born, my mom thanked my husband Paul for making her the best thing she ever was — a grandma.


My mom, Suzy Krause, is a great mom and an even better grandma. She is motherly to everyone lucky enough to be in her life, to me and my sister Lori, to our husbands Paul and Brian, to our friends, to her rescue dog Jordy, to the young women she mentors, to the young male business associates and friends of my dad’s, to people she meets while shopping, eating out and, yes, even while in the hospital.

She never had a mother role model to follow so she became one.

Read Susan’s tribute to her mom here, and Lois’ tribute to her mom here!

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