|BWS Stories - "Mrs. Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter"...Stories About Mom|
"Mrs. Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter"...Stories About Mom - Breaking Mom's Mold
Joanne Venturella is an RN with a BA in English, certified in Emergency Medicine and Infection Control and is presently working at Baltimore-Washington Medical Center in Glen Burnie, MD. Joanne served in the Army Nurse Corps from 1966 -1970. She has been married for 36 years, has 4 children and 2 grandchildren. Joanne has been published in professional nursing journals.
Breaking Mom's Mold
My teenage years were in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. I loved President Kennedy so Profiles in Courage became my bible. I had dreams of joining the Peace Corps and making a difference in the world. My song was, like so many, Impossible Dream from Man of LaMancha. I was adventurous, bold, and determined to break the mold that my mother had set.
I remember saying to the young man I was dating that I had plans for my life – and I definitely “wouldn’t become a baby factory for any man.” In fact, I wasn’t planning on marrying until I was near 30. So what did I do just a year after I graduated from Nursing School?
I married that young man when I was 23, had the first of our four children at 24, and stayed home to raise our kids, except for some part time work. I had BECOME my mother and, at times, resented that my dreams of the Peace Corps had indeed become “impossible.” My husband worked on exciting government projects, traveled for his job and ate at restaurants. I ate macaroni and cheese with two year olds. I loved being a wife and mother, but I almost lost myself, the girl with dreams and personal goals.
As time went on I realized that new opportunities were available for women. I saw a New World opening for my daughters and remembered my own dreams. But I had made my choices earlier and felt that my time for making changes had passed. I channeled my dreams into my girls.
I would make sure I gave my daughters the tools to have more freedom than I so they wouldn’t be stuck in the mold their grandmother had set years ago. Twenty-five years ago I read the book Helping Your Child Develop Independence. This would be my new bible. I remember having a discussion with my mother. She shared that letting go was the hardest part of raising children. Children want their independence. We hold them back through our fear.
Now I understand why my mother said that to me. She knew firsthand what letting go meant. She had given me the tools to experience more freedom than she experienced (funny I missed that) and then stood back and watched as I made decisions that must have frightened her.
I enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps Reserves during Nursing School. I made this decision out of financial need. My father was very ill at the time and there was no money for tuition. But, I made this decision without telling my parents. Surprising - not a girl stuck in the mold. I was stationed at Walter Reed. In the midst of the war I got orders to go to Vietnam. I never went due to my first pregnancy.
None of this was part of my original plan for altruistic service through the Peace Corps, but it surely was a departure from the MOLD. Yes, I eventually returned to the more traditional role of wife and mother, but that was also my choice. I see now that my mom had given me the freedom to make my own decisions. I had just determined that I wanted love, family and the picket fence. A woman’s world, it seems, changes appropriately in baby steps.
But the young girl who dreamed of the Peace Corps is still aching to come out. I believe that it is not too late for my 60’s impossible dream. In the process of allowing my own children freedom to be whoever they want to be, I also gave myself permission to change. I am looking into the Mercy Ship as a goal in the next two years. After all, I am still adventurous and bold, but now also proud to be molded by my mother’s love in letting go.