A MOMENT WITH MY MOM ON MOTHER’S DAY
MEET MY MOM: LINDA RENDLEMAN
A philanthropist, an author, a speaker, an entrepreneur, a cancer survivor, a wife, sister, daughter, and my MOTHER. Turning seventy this year, I never tire of hearing my mom’s take on things. She’s raised three kids - my older sister Jane, my younger brother A.J and me, and is a grandmother to six. Today, we talk about what the journey of motherhood has meant to her. To all of you in the club, you know the challenges, you know the sacrifices, you know the indescribable love defined by this most special relationship. Happy Mother’s Day to each of you sensational women.
And now, a conversation with my mom I hope you enjoy! xx
Hi, Mama. So, firstly. What’s the hardest part about being a mother?
That’s an interesting question. There are so many stages of motherhood and each, at least for me, had different challenges. When my children were little, as in pre-school, for me the hardest part was the energy needed to keep up with them and also the sense of the great responsibility of teaching values and self-esteem. And at the other end of the spectrum, when my children became adults, I know the hardest thing of all has been letting go. I sometimes struggle with getting too involved in their lives with my own ideas and opinions when what I really want to do is have all of my children back in my arms again and never let go.
There are challenges at all stages but mostly I believe it’s about realizing that a mother makes the most impact on her child by how she lives her own life.
Wow. That’s profound and so true. What’s the most rewarding part about motherhood?
The little things. The picture drawn at school and brought home to me with pride and a smile. The “hum” time when we were all in one place knowing that we belong together. The long talks with a teenager after a date that went wrong, or maybe the night that she fell in love and came to me to tell me all about it with a brightness in her eyes. The reward is the day-to-day. I’m glad we didn’t have cell phones when I was raising my children. I see young mothers today and applaud those that don’t turn to their phones every time it beeps or rings when they’re with their children.
What’s the best advice you got from Grams, your mother Freda, about raising your kids?
Stuff them up with love…make love ooze out of them because they are loved so much. And listen, listen, listen.
Looking back today, what advice would you give your 14-year-old self?
Make a plan for your life. Take time to listen to your quiet self, commit to your direction and act on it. And know that life is fluid and your goals may change.
If you make a regretful decision, learn from your actions. Forgive yourself and keep on going.
Keep on keeping on. Yes. What are a few key things your own children have taught you along the way?
Unconditional love. Strength of conviction. The love of animals. Staying in the present. Letting go of things that I cannot change. Faith in God.
Did you always want to be a mother?
Oh yes. Never doubted it for a moment. When I was a teenager I had a summer job at the local hospital in our little town. I got to help the new mothers and babies in the maternity ward and was able to be in the room when babies were born. Being able to see that miracle was thrilling to me and knowing that I, too, would hopefully have the chance to hold my own child in my arms in my future life, was the best part about being born female.
Yet motherhood isn’t always about birthing. At the end of the day it’s about loving. Some don’t have the opportunity to give birth, yet in our world, isn’t it wonderful that there are still multiple ways to be a mom through adoption, fostering and marriages that include children.
Occasionally I’ve wondered what my life may have been like without my children and that scares me. I can’t imagine not meeting them and loving them. It’s good these days that people can choose, but I really do think the richest life is that of a family with children.
What is it like as a woman, a mother, turning seventy years old? Being a grandmother sure must be nice?
Hmmm…turning 70? I was lucky to live through the feminist movement (more than once) and watch myself and countless other women stand up and grab life as a challenge and unbelievable growth period for women. I have so much to learn in this new decade of my life and age and I’m excited to discover all the new things I get to do. I like to think of my life in thirds. The first third is growing into an adult, education, love and children. The second third is work/career, raising my children and launching them into their own personal lives. The third stage is coming to me now. And with that will come physical changes. They are unescapable and that’s ok. But I intend to nurture myself with good food, exercise and learning. And I just might have something to say that can be of value to those who are coming up behind me. With age, truly one gains wisdom. I like being here.
Being a grandmother is a whole new level of love. You think you know what motherly love is when you have your own children - but the sneak attack is when you have grandchildren. It’s hard to explain but any grandmother reading this knows exactly what I’m talking about, and being a part of watching your own children have children, is the extra bonus. Little beings just like them! How great is life?
Aw, Mom. That’s so sweet. You’ve traveled the world and witnessed other mothers (or mother like figures) work miracles trying to care for their children – kids suffering from HIV, little to no food, limited access to education. What did witnessing their trials mean to you?
When we first started our charity, the Women Like Us Foundation, I was sure we could go out and change the lives of hundreds of thousands of women and children if we worked really hard. Over the years, we realized that changing the life of a few, is indeed, an accomplishment. Although we’ve been lucky to impact thousands at this point in my career, it does always seem like never enough.
As I’ve been with so many women and witnessed so much strife, I am a true believer that there is still joy in the world. I’ve witnessed that this happiness comes from the true love and caring, the nurturing and steadfastness, the compassion and kindness of women and mothers. We are the true champions of unconditional love and perseverance for our children, our communities and our world.
In Africa, I once had a woman ask me to take her child with me back to America. I didn’t know how to respond other than to say, “You don’t mean that.” Her reply was, “I do mean it.” I thought about her and her child for several years after that. And I have seen the little one when I re-visit them in Africa over the years. But I know what she meant. It was a mother’s love - wishing for a better life for her child. And that’s universal and what motherhood is - globally, locally, and right down the street. Mothers are raising their children the best they can.