What Makes a Good Mother Good? — 10 Characteristics
It’s Mother’s Day, and I feel called to share with you a reflection I wrote about my mom.
I feel called to tell you a little bit about her…
My mom was outspoken
Our family immigrated to Canada from Poland when I was just a little over two years old. Money was tight. I will never forget a conversation wherein my dad, suggested to my mom, that she find paid work. I overheard the conversation. She said, “No, Dorothy is too young. She needs me.”
I was very young, but that conversation affected my profoundly, deeply. My mother never minced her words. I will never forget in my early twenties challenging her on a variety of Church teachings, to which she replied, “Get behind me Satan.” My mother was a great defender of the Truth and she wasn’t afraid to offend anyone with that truth.
My mom kept a beautiful house
It’s only lately I realized that for the most part, our family was poor growing up. My dad was a factory worker. My mom worked occasionally in spurts. She cleaned banks at night, so she could be at home with her children during the day, and serve us a hot lunch. There was a time she went to work (for a stint) at the factory my dad worked at. Why? She wanted the family to afford visiting family in Poland. Back to the house. No matter where we lived, my mom brought great dignity to our home. It was always clean, orderly, tastefully decorated. Throughout my life — I longed to bring friends and work associates home to see our home! I loved the french provincial furniture, our stunning sparkly chandelier imported from Italy in our dining room, after all I had helped wallpaper the walls and I helped choose the ruby carpets and many painting that graced our walls.
I loved our home growing up. Being a factory worker, having limited financial resources didn’t stop my mom from making a home, a home. I see now, my parents learned the forgotten art of living within their means and making family life their priority.
She took family dinners seriously
I cannot remember a single day where a hot dinner wasn’t served at 6pm sharp. It was a hot dinner that always included a protein, a carb, a vegetable and a dessert. If any after school activities were suggested that involved the possibility of missing dinner, she looked at us perplexed, with a resounding “NO !!!, You’re going to miss dinner!” It was a ridiculous thought in her mind, one she immediately dismissed.
She took care of herself
My mom never missed a day without makeup. Right to her dying day… nails? Always painted, pedicure always on point. She was proud of the finds she discovered in Eaton’s – the bargain floor — always had her looking beautiful. A new scarf, a new blouse, a new pair of shoes. She was always well kept, which always meant regular visits to the hairdresser. I remember always being proud of the way she looked. Well into her 80’s my mom was always getting compliments. She looked stunning.
She wasn’t afraid to fight
I always laugh saying, “My mom didn’t need the feminist movement, she had the Holy Spirit.” I remember fighting in my house growing up, heck many of the fights included me challenging her on this and that. In our house fighting wasn’t a sin, or even a big deal, you simply fought about it and moved on. When I came home late from going to the disco’s – we fought. Thank goodness she wasn’t afraid to say what needed to be said. My mom often said, that from what she’s seen, there was too much “Honey, honey” in marriages. Too much skirting around the issues and not enough real confrontation. She abhorred any phoney sentimental small talk in marriages. That was my mom.
She was religious
My mom was different from a lot of moms. She was religious, she was pious, she prayed openly and frequently. She talked about the Catholic faith. She went on religious retreats. She talked about miracles. She talked about eternity, Satan, death and the importance of prayer. Some of our extended relatives poked fun at both my mom and dad for their religiosity. It hurt. We weren’t the rich family. We weren’t the sophisticated family. We didn’t know one designer from another, we didn’t serve extravagant exquisite fancy French meals, we didn’t go on holidays to Florida or tour Europe. We were the religious family. It didn’t bother her one bit.
She knew how to suffer
My mom was thirteen years old when World War 11 broke out. Her house was bombed, decimated, right to the ground. She was pulled out the rubble by Marian priests. She often said she owed her life to them. She watch her mother hold up a crucifix in the sky and pray out loud — as the Germans dropped bombs on Warsaw.
She saw her mother be pulled out of the rubble and in the pulling – she saw her pregnant mother loose a baby… My mom often told stories about being in a work camp, about being chased by German shepherds and German soldiers.
She constantly said, “Moms and wives have to be prepared to suffer and they have to know HOW to suffer.” She constantly offered up her suffering for her past sins. She often told me that I was soft – “Don’t complain so much, pick up YOUR cross.”
She was joyful, always smiling laughing
My mother was a joyful, high spirited, courageous woman. When she walked into a room. She greeted everyone. She told them she was praying for them. I often wondered how she had managed to be so joyful considering she survived a war, immigrated to a country where she didn’t know the language and lived in a country that had values that were in direct contradiction to the ones she held so dearly. I often saw her persecuted, and dismissed because she was so religious. One thing she said, not long before she died, really gave me reason to pause. She said,
“Sometimes people go out of their way to let me know — that they don’t like me, have they ever wondered whether I like them?”
Whenever I suggested that she disassociate with folks that weren’t giving her due respect. She was shocked, appalled. She constantly reached out to her enemies with a kind gesture, a gift, a Mass for their intention.
At the time — I had a hard time understanding her unshakeable discipline of turning the other cheek.
She took thanking seriously
Ever since I can remember my mom sat me down at the table and made me write thank you cards. Yes, you got that right. I was quite young, and I remember sitting down, and her hovering over me, talking about the importance of thanking people: clergy, teachers, aunts, friends, family members… and so on…
She had 101 sayings
I grew up with mom in constant conversation with me. She was always telling me something, teaching, rebuking, remarking, encouraging, championing. I always knew where my mom stood, It was clear to me that she had much passion, much love and so much faith — and that she wanted to share everything that was inside of her with her children.
“Do you know how much Jesus Loves you?”
she asked when I was a little child.
“The world belongs to the courageous!”
I heard that a zillion times in my life. It gave me confidence to start a business.
“There is nothing bad that happens, that good doesn’t come of it.”
was a constant.
“Did you say your morning prayers? Your night prayers?”
she asked until her dying day.
Oh, the list goes on and on. Today is having me look back on all the memories, going to the Santa parade, Centre Island, thinking we got rich when I had my first Canadian hotdog, remembering all the thoughtful gifts and moments that help me realize how blessed I was to have her as a mother… In many ways I haven’t kept up her legacy… I have fallen short… but I feel her prayers and her intercession.
I know that she is standing before the throne of God, praying for my intentions. My mom is the gift that has never stopped giving..
This Mother’s Day, I encourage you today, to think about the legacy that you are creating.
Ask yourself, how you want to be remembered as a wife and mother…. and get closer to that person… My mom always encouraged us to find our strength, our hope and our resolve to become better humans by turning to God and not people.
Pray…. pray….. pray….. my dearest moms…. you are touching lives for eternity..
P.S. I am so excited to share a new development with you! Our ministry is now helping parishes world wide in helping moms start Catholic Moms Groups. Check this out HERE. Promise to watch the video? Let me know what you think!
Dorothy Pilarski is the founder of Dynamic Women of Faith, author, motivational speaker, blogger , guest columnist with the Catholic Register and a facilitator on Salt + Light TV.
To learn a little bit more about Dorothy, visit her website at www.dorothypilarski.com You can get her book, Motherhood Matters, here on Amazon. If you feel called to start a Mother's Group, get the ministry's publication, How to Start a Mother's Group!