Keep Smilin’ with Rosie – The peaks and valleys of motherhood


By Rosie Preston

Erma Bombeck was the author of many best-selling books and had a wonderful way of telling truths about her family that left most mothers (such as myself) laughing out loud as she described her husband and children. Most mothers could identify with Erma, and we passed her books around like wildfire. I would love to find a way to get the present generation of mothers to read them.

Emma wrote several chapters in which she compared herself to the mother down the street who was always together before she proceeded to jog around the neighborhood wearing her matching workout clothing and marching shoes. All the normal mothers watched with awe mixed with feelings of jealousy. The following descriptions delve into the symptoms we feel and questions we ask ourselves as we try to be good mothers.

How could a good mother not think it was important to count her child’s teeth? Years later, said child had her first trip to the dentist, and the mother is faced with the fact that there are several permanent teeth missing. Would a good mother put a leash on her three-year old daughter in order to keep her close to her in large airports while traveling from Alabama to California? I had to do something to keep from losing track of her, as I was carrying my one-year old son.

What about the mother who does not notice when her child wore house shoes to school one day?  What about the time your child had a temper tantrum after you offered her a large bag of candy bars? What about the time you were in the checkout line at the grocery store and your child wants “only one” candy bar? You did not give in to her because she is having difficulty learning the word “no.” That is the most important thing that we will need to deal with for a lifetime. It’s not as if you already feel bad enough when the lady behind you condemns you for not caring about your child.

Now let us acknowledge the times when you knew that you were being a good mother. Do you remember reading story books to your toddler as he or she fell asleep in your arms? What about all the times you held your sick child all night and hoped you could be at the doctor’s office before it opened? What about the times you sewed matching outfits for your children to wear to church? Do you remember insisting on buying the best shoes around so that your child would not walk bowlegged like a cowboy? What about trying to count how many diapers you changed and how many meals you cooked? What about swimming and skating lessons?

The list could go on and on, but I hope you will remember some of things you shared with your child after you read this column. Looking back, I experienced being both a bad mother (at least according to my child’s memories of the incidents) and a good one. The one thing most mothers need is judgement, along with understanding. A child and a mother are much the same when it comes to growing up, and one day feeling wise because now they are a grandmother!

Keep smiling, Rosie Preston

Contact Rosie Preston at

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