Motherhood and apple pie

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Here in the States, where we are about to celebrate Mother’s Day, we have a folksy saying that involves motherhood and apple pie.

Closeup photo of holiday apple pie on rustic wooden background, top view point
Closeup photo of holiday apple pie on rustic wooden background, top view point

When describing things quintessentially American, motherhood and apple pie are about as sacred as it gets, besides our flag.

The saying has been toyed with over the years, its meaning morphing to the point where when we think of motherhood, apple pie is the likely next thought.

Motherhood has long been a sacred institution. And Mother’s Day is a wonderful way to give many special women a day of appreciation.

But easy on the apple pie, please.

It’s tempting to think of the Norman Rockwell picture. Mom, in an apron, fresh-baked pie coming out of the oven. Smiling beatifically despite the chaos that comes from small children and big expectations about everything from home-cooked meals to unlimited patience and wisdom bestowed.

We like to put our vision of a Mother (capital M intentional) into some pretty tight boxes sometimes.

I know some wonderful mothers who don’t fit that mold.

grandmother and her granddaughter whispering on white background
grandmother and her granddaughter whispering on white background

First, there is the older mother and grandmother who—despite being in her 70s—looks like she could swim the English channel, learn French in a day, break into an Argentine tango at any moment. She dresses ever so sharply, wears bright red lipstick and hangs with a creative gaggle of gals who are redefining aging. They write, paint and compose with aplomb. They entertain grandchildren at a moment’s notice. They swear like truck drivers. They break a mold that used to involve aprons, sugar cookies and white hair.

Their children love them. Their grandchildren adore them. Their husbands try to keep up.

Next is the forty-something mother I know. There is no apple pie in her future unless it can be cooked in a microwave, which is about the only kitchen appliance of which she can claim mastery. She does not cook, clean or keep house very well. She holds down a job and the promotions keep coming. Her children play sports, pull grades and seem solidly grounded. She breaks a mold that used to involve guilt, dependence and fine lines around the eyes.

I see the way her husband looks at her. They are rock solid—and her confidence is supporting a thriving family.

Last comes the young mother I have in my heart this holiday. Her baby just days old, she struggles to find pockets of sleep, heal her own body after a tough childbirth and ignore the “helpful” advice those around her seem to have to offer in spades. She debates nursing versus formula, crying it out versus sleep training. She already tries to reconcile the tidal wave of love for her baby, for her new role as a mother, with the constraints on her freedom and the changes in her self-identity.

She cries when no one is around and wonders how such great love can be mixed with such tough choices.

She is breaking a mold that used to involve a Madonna and child stereotype, replete with slavish devotion to a role that allowed no room for self.

These women are good mothers. Great mothers.

None of them fit the apple pie mold.

While we are applauding the Betty Crockers and June Cleavers of the world, all of whom have wonderful things to offer, let us also remember those who will probably never be known for their pristine apple pies and lemming-like adherence to what society says a mother should be.

This Mother’s Day, I applaud the trailblazers. The ones who know that a strong self-identity is one of the best things you can offer your children.

Your strength becomes theirs.

Your dreams realized show them the moon and stars.

And showing our kids they are an important piece of the complex puzzle called woman, wife, mother, daughter, executive, artist—choose your  own labels—means apple pie takes a backseat.

When you are serving the full-course meal, apple pie pales in comparison.

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27 Comments Add yours

  1. susicx says:

    Reblogged this on susicx.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you for the reblog! Truly appreciate it:).

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you for the reblog! Truly appreciate it:).

      1. daniemarq08 says:

        It was an extremely good article! Thank you for sharing what was I your heart

  2. Happy Mother’s Day!

  3. Maternal styles may change over the decades, but one thing remains the same. Mothers shape their children. The job is still the most important. And you’re right. It doesn’t matter if they fit the mold or not.

  4. csmith2600 says:

    Great piece. I am not a mother yet, but I see becoming one in my near future. I hope to embrace my own version of motherhood, and help all the mothers around me embrace theirs.

  5. Eli Pacheco says:

    Happy mother’s day! As a dad, I appreciate moms in all forms and states. They all have this inner strength and presence about them that can’t be ignored, whether they’re on top of it at the moment, buried beneath it all, or anywhere in between.

    We dads can make apple pie too, sometimes.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, Eli! I get the whole dad as chef extraordinaire thing. My mother was a decent cook but my father an extraordinary one:).

  6. Thank you and well said. Who really fits a stereotype anyway? No one I know. One day I hope to have grandchildren so I can tell them sea stories (at least the rated G ones).

  7. markbialczak says:

    So many different mothers, so many reasons to be thankful. Great Mother’s Day tribute, Kay. And Happy Mother’s Day to you, for raising your boys your way. ❤

  8. A wonderful tribute to the reality of mothers and here’s to that strong self-identify 🙂

  9. I think this is the best post I’ve ever read from you – Bravo!! Celebrate yourself for being spot on about a complex subject in an ever-changing world. You deserve an extra scoop of vanilla ice cream on your apple pie today! Enjoy the day.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! Wishing you the same. And maybe some whipped cream with the pie too!

  10. Well said, Kay. Happy Mother’s Day.

    1. candidkay says:

      And to you also, Cynthia! I hope you find time in the garden beautiful.

  11. Asia Paglino says:

    Reblogged this on Contraddittorie parole illegali..

  12. Happy mother’s day to you too, from Down Under, where we celebrate it too! As another imperfect mother, I love this post. I muddled through…and they’ve turned out okay!

    1. candidkay says:

      I have a feeling you have brought honor to muddling through, Lee! Happy Mother’s Day:).

  13. Then there are mothers like me. Mothers who didn’t go through the pain of child birth, but have children of their heart. Children they love and protect and nourish as their own. Mothers who program computers by day and make apple pies on the weekends not because we have to, but because we feel like it.

    😉

    1. candidkay says:

      I love this–from the children of your heart to the apple pies just because. I have baked a few of those over the years also:). Hope your Mother’s Day is rife with happy memories,

      1. I had a very nice day. Thanks for the compliment. 🙂

  14. Amy says:

    Spot on, my friend! Happy Mother’s Day!! ❤ xox

  15. Here’s to moms that break the mold! I love your take on this, and the way you celebrate moms for so much more than the 50s tv show stereotypes. Happy Mother’s Day to you!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! Happy Mother’s Day to you, however you are celebrating:). I hope it’s lovely!

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