This Thanksgiving went much like all of its predecessors from recent years: it arrived suddenly, progressed in a most frenzied manner and ended heart-warmingly. That was until I heard about the death of one of my dearest childhood idols - Florence Henderson.
"Mom Brady", as my siblings and I affectionately called her, was the first TV actress who (for me) epitomized the essence of motherhood and the importance of the American homemaker. In fact, such was her impact on me that I decided to follow in her footsteps instead of my own career mom's. The way that she juggled maintaining the house, the kids' daily needs, keeping the peace, resolving squabbles, making her step-kids feel just as loved as her own, lending a sympathetic ear and keeping her husband happy - all whilst keeping that bright smile on her face - simply amazed me.
The thing that stuck with me most, however, was the fact that she was always there for her kids - always. There was no boss to answer to about her punctuality or inability to finish those all-important projects on time. No cramming all of her family matters, appointments and errands into a fleeting lunch hour, only to fail abysmally and go hungry for nothing. No missing out on those unforgettable, monumental and sometimes once-in-a-lifetime moments in her children's lives.
In essence, she was able to live a relatively guilt-free life, secure in the knowledge that she was in full control of her time and could therefore be assured of doing a great job every day, keeping all of the important people in her life relatively happy. Hence she could avoid having to make that horrifying choice that so many working mothers have to face most days... choosing between pleasing her boss and pleasing her family.
Even at that tender age, I was able to observe my own mom's weekday struggles and decide that I was not going to put myself (or my family) through that torture. I adored my mom for working so hard to make time for me most days but the truth is, on those other days when a relative, family friend or one of her co-workers had to step in to help out, it just wasn't the same without her.
Housewife, homemaker, domestic "engineer", full-time mom or stay-at-home mom... whatever you call it, this time-honored role is more than a job, it's a vocation. And thanks to people like Florence Henderson (who ironically was just like my mom in real life), I was able to understand that fact very early on in life and be inspired to follow suit. Because of role models like her TV character, mine is a life of daily fulfillment, satisfaction and yes, rewarding challenges.
God bless all mothers, homemakers and especially Florence Henderson. May she rest in peace.
Until next week
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