I am not my mother. Yet, I am my mother’s daughter. I can make a list of ways in which I am different from my mom. Interests, personality traits, choices I’ve made. At the same time, I can make a list of ways in which we are very much the same. Interests, personality traits, and choices I’ve made.
In Tim Stafford’s book, Never Mind the Joneses, he talks about this idea called family culture. In a nutshell, family culture is “the particular, peculiar way you do things in your family ~ everything from how you celebrate the New Year to how you make lunch.” In the opening chapter of the book he compares differences between his own family and family friends of theirs ~ the Joneses. He shares his journey of processing how two families can look so different, yet share the same values. He observes that
“They believe their approach will be more successful at raising children with values. We believe our approach will be more successful. Actually, we might both be successful. In the end, the Staffords will produce more Staffords, while the Joneses will produce more Joneses.”
I love that last line. While families don’t produce exact carbon copies of themselves, and some children may depart from their family’s culture more drastically than others, none of us are exempt from the affects of being raised in each of our unique family cultures. How many of us moms have thought at some point in our parenting, “I sound like my mother!”? Some work harder than others to change those patterns; others happily embrace and carry on their culture of origin. Of course, all of us combine our unique cultures ~ whether we like them or not ~ with that of our spouses, creating a brand new family culture. Our own unique ways of living life.
I am on a journey. A journey of identity. I am Rockness, because I was produced by a Rockness. Yet I have grown up, left home, and gotten married. I have joined my family culture with that of my husband’s. And in the midst of it I’ve struggled over who I am and what ways of being are important to me. I have had to let go of things because quite simply, my life circumstances are different than those of my parents. And, though raised by them and impacted by them, I am not them.
In the introduction to her book, Keep These Things, Ponder Them in Your Heart, my mom (Miriam Huffman Rockness) writes:
“As I listen to other women, I have become increasingly aware of the common threads that run through the fabric of our individual lives. While the specific details that shape our existence may separate us, the differences are transcended by similar concerns and similar solutions.”
As I re-read my mom’s books, I’m amazed at all the things that resonate with me. Do they resonate because I am very much like my mom? Or do they resonate, as her above statement implies, because of the “common threads” that run through my life simply because I am a woman and a mother?
I think it’s a little bit of both. I relate on a level of simply being in the same stage of life. Yet I also relate on a level of seeing parts of my mother in me.
Many of you who know my mom have probably already made the connection that my blog title stems from the title of my mom’s first book: Keep These Things, Ponder Them in Your Heart. I intentionally chose that title as a way of continuing something, in my own way (hers was a book, mine is a blog), that she began around the same age and stage that I am now. I also did it because I liked the sentiment behind it. I, like her, want to “keep these things” ~ these thoughts, experiences, observations, memories. To notice things, to write them down, to remember. And to capture them as they are happening.
As I move forward with future blog posts, I plan on tweaking my approach a bit. For the most part, much of what I write will be quite similar to what I have been writing. The difference will be my over-arching structure. As I am re-reading my mom’s books, I’m intrigued by the similarities ~ and at times, differences ~ in my own life. I’m wanting to more directly interact with her books. Her thoughts. Her experiences.
Do some of her experiences trigger something similar in me? Do I have similar stories and experiences to share? Yet different because of the thirty-year time gap? Are my internal dialogues ~ struggles, joys, questions, observations ~ the same? How do I see the affects of her parenting manifested in my life now? Are there lessons, captured in the pages of her book, that I remember to this day?
My responses to these questions, my interactions with her books, will be the springboard from which I will write most of my future blogs (I say most, to give myself room and freedom to occasionally write on things that may not be directly related to her books). I’ll share quotes from her books, sometimes even entire chapters. Maybe I’ll even draw her into the “conversation” with some guest posts on her thoughts and reflections now.
I am struck by the timelessness of my mom’s books. Part of my hope, my desire, is to have a chance to re-introduce my mom in this “day and age” as a writer. To get her words back out there. “To keep these things” that she has written…while at the same time, I’ll be “keeping these things” myself.
Mom ends her introduction with these words:
“So I share my process. If it triggers for someone else insights into their own life situations, it will more than justify the writing of these reflections.”
Little did she know that some thirty years later, her written words would “trigger insights” into the life situations of her own daughter.
So here begins my process of “keeping these things.” My continued journey in fleshing out my own identity. I am not my mother. But I am her daughter. And I’m in the process of figuring out where the one begins and the other ends. And somehow embracing them both.