All about moms
When Patricia Harris set out to fill a book with quotes by and about mothers, she worried she wouldn’t find enough.
"But I ended up with more quotes than I could use and when I started pulling them together, the quotes seemed less like individual pronouncements and more like a conversation across the ages about mothers and motherhood," she said in an e-mail.
A mother’s role is complex, she writes:
"A mother’s arms are more comforting than anyone else’s." (Diana, Princess of Wales)
"A mother is not a person to lean on but a person to make leaning unnecessary." (Dorothy Canfield Fisher)
Harris says she particularly enjoyed mothers’ own thoughts about motherhood:
"Motherhood was my triggering point for trying to understand the meaning of life." (Madonna)
"Having children changes your life irrevocably. It takes the whole paradigm and turns it upside down in the most wonderful way. Until you have a child, you’ve never been certain you’d give your life for someone, you’ve never been so proud, you’ve never been so tired." (Elizabeth Vargas)
"Motherhood, in short, is powerful assertiveness training. Even the most timid woman may soon realize that her life will go quickly downhill if she doesn’t establish some authority over a recalcitrant toddler." (Katherine Ellison)
But her favorite quotes were from sons and daughters explaining how their mothers influenced their lives:
"The doctors told me that I would never walk, but my mother told me I would, so I believed my mother." (Wilma Rudolph, Olympic gold medalist in track and field)
"When I was a child, my mother said to me, ‘If you become a solider, you’ll be a general. If you become a monk, you’ll end up as the pope.’ Instead I became a painter and wound up as Picasso." (Pablo Picasso)
And a final note from Oscar Wilde: "All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his."
Reprinted from Mom Is Always Right by Patricia Harris (The Lyons Press, an imprint of The Globe Pequot Press, Guilford, Conn., 2008)
Someone you should know
A gem in the beans
Jeanie Bonansinga has come a long way since her first public performance, her seventh-grade talent show. These days she’s better known as Jeanie B! of Jeanie B! and The Jelly Beans, the award-winning kids’ music group that considers nothing too silly or too serious when it comes to putting life to music. There’s also that other title for the 48-year-old Evanston woman: Mom.
Bonansinga frequently played the nightclubs, but once she had her boys, Joey, 9, and Bill, 7, she turned her sights to a more enthusiastic audience. Jeanie B! and The Jelly Beans are set to record a new CD, "Joy," in May (expected to be available by July). They also will be the featured performers on the Macy’s Stage at Looptopia 5-10 p.m. May 2.
What do you like most about making music for kids? "I love seeing the sparkle in the children’s eyes because there’s so much of this world that they haven’t seen or heard or experienced yet. You can take them to any place you want in a song."
You don’t seem the slightest inhibited on stage. "Is it that obvious? There comes the fun part. I’m ah, how do I say it, I’m really silly. I found kids love silly. When I play for kids, I let all that hang out."
What’s the best thing about being a mom? "I think it’s a whole different way to learn about yourself. I had a lot of preconceived notions about how I would parent and how life would be. My children have just completely proved me wrong about everything I thought I knew. I think it really gives you a sense of importance .... You can change the world by the way you parent the children."
What piece of advice would you give to other parents? "The only advice I would give is remember that your kids are only kids for a very short time and to not take that for granted and to make sure that they know how much you love them at all times."
Tamara L. O’Shaughnessy
It happened to me
The yin and the yang of yoga
I’ve started doing yoga and now I’m hooked. It began innocently enough—as innocently as my daughter bringing home some yoga poses from preschool. Before I could say Zen, the two of us were bending and balancing all over the living room, equating ourselves with the strength of trees, the flow of water and the stability of triangles.
Our favorite is the lion pose, where we stick out our tongues at each other and roar. It’s a surprising release, to find that little ferocity within ourselves, right in the middle of the living room carpet—and it’s also fascinatingly silly. We’ve catapulted into our own medley of made-up poses: Cat Caught Unawares in Cat Box, The Skunk Spray and the Boy Who Dropped His Ice Cream Cone (oh, the existential anguish!).
I’ve loved these home yoga session so much that it inspired me to take a real yoga class, you know, with a trained instructor and people who don’t get distracted by the forever-strangeness of one’s own belly button. There’s something very powerful about a room full of women windmilling their arms into a warrior pose. Then, we fold over into the child’s pose, forehead humbly to the floor, revealing the vulnerability and smallness in each of us.
Yoga renews me with its non-competitive nature and its sense of humor—enough to go home to my daughter, position myself into Spastic Puppy Tangled in Leash and giggle till it hurts.
Cherie Caswell Dost, Chicago