At Home with Tech

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Tag: mothers

Why You Really Have Multiple Mothers

You’re more than the sum of your life experiences. The past has a way of traveling forward through generations and affecting your existence in ways you can’t possibly know. Think you‘ve been influenced by just one mother? Think again…

The love of a mother is unique and irreplaceable. My mom’s been gone since 2006, and of course, I miss her. She was the quintessential Jewish mother. Doting. Over protective. Always there for me. I am at home with tech, because she bought me my first audio cassette recorder for my 7th birthday.
(My father thought my sound-collecting interest was a passing fad, but my mom had her x-ray mom-vision that could see deeper into my heart and ultimately my future.)

Even after I had grown up and moved out, she still mothered from afar. She clipped and mailed news articles on topics she thought would (or should) be of interest to me. She was only a phone call away, and yes we talked often. Of course, I had my standing dinners with my father over the years when I was back in town, but I’ve reflected a lot about him lately.

Today is about mothers.

Multiple Mothers
Usually, you think of having one mother or person who served in that pivotal role during your early life. And that was certainly the case with my mom. But I believe the superpower of mothering is partially fueled by the past through a form of time travel.

As I look at old photos of both my grandmothers, I definitely feel a distant influence from both of them… as mothers.

And even though I never got to meet them, they influenced how my parents grew up and ultimately how they parented me. So, in a way, both of these women were also there with me through some of my parents’ unconscious behaviors.

If we extend this logic further, I am inevitably the result of a long line of mothers who stretch way back into my family’s history.

Aren’t we all?

All the wisdom. All of the unconditional love. All of that warmth.

Each of us contains all of this timeless ‘mom collective.’

My Paternal Grandmother
I’ve been going through photos of my grandmother Rae lately… ever since my father passed away.
Rae looks like quite the force. Smart. Funny. Clever. Daring. Compelling. She could not have been happier as she brought up her young family with my grandfather in the mid 1930’s.

Then, she died unexpectedly when my father was just four years old. It must have been absolutely shattering. My father didn’t talk about it with the same intensity… I’m sure as a long-established coping mechanism.

My grandfather never remarried, and he and his two young sons moved forward in their lives as best as anyone could.

So, Rae’s major influence on my father was unfortunately her absence as a mother after those few short years.

Still, I look at the photos of her, and I cannot help but feel a connection… a beneficiary of all of her strength and goodness. Of course, her love brought my father into this world, and she set him on his young path.

Thank you, Rae. Happy Mother’s Day.

My Maternal Grandmother
Then, there’s my mother’s mom… Blanka. She was originally from Hungary.
She looks much more serious, right? I don’t have as many photos of her. So it’s harder for me to paint my own picture..

My mom didn’t give me a lot of background on what her mother was like. The main part of Blanka’s story was that she had a serious bout of pneumonia when she was young and as a result was sickly across her adulthood. My mom spent a lot of time taking care of her when my mother was a teenager.

Blanka ultimately died young. My mother had grown up by then, but my mom was only in her twenties.

Still, as I think about Blanka’s life, there are two decades of mothering that influenced the person my mom became. (See first paragraph.) I don’t know those stories, but I know that as a result, there’s a part of Blanca in me.

Thank you Blanka. Happy Mother’s Day.

My Mother
Looking at both stories of my grandmothers, there’s the unfortunate similarity that both their lives ended way too early.

Not that one’s life should be singularly judged in terms of longevity, but I feel blessed that my mother lived for as long as she did. And happily, she was my mom decades into my adulthood.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

My Wife
And this brings us to the present.

I’m also blessed to be a parent of a young teenage boy. He is so great. And this is, in large part, due to his amazing mother.
Thank you wife for everything you do for our son every day. I can see your empathy, love of nature and balanced mindfulness flowing in his being.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Generations of Motherly Love
They say it takes a village. I can easily see that using my expanded view across time.

To all of the mothers in my family who have provided so much love, support and wisdom to the generations… you’re all rock stars!

My Mom and the 1970 Tape Recorder

This is my mother and baby Barrett in 1963. A little less than seven years after this photo was taken, my mother would confront a parenting choice that would change my life forever…

This is my mother and baby Barrett in 1963. A little less than seven years after this photo was taken, my mother would confront a parenting choice that would change my life forever…

Ten years ago yesterday, my mom passed. She was eighty years old. A whole decade has already gone by? I can hardly believe it.

I think about her a lot…

You know… it was because of my mother that I developed my interest in video production and technology. Well, I might have still gotten there on my own…

And today as a parent, I see so clearly how individual moments between parents and their children can have significant impact.

I’d like to share a particular moment from 1970, when boy Barrett had his little heart set on getting a Sound Design audio cassette tape recorder for his birthday…

Must-Have Birthday Gift
I was just wrapping up a multi-month marketing campaign at home for this must-have toy. I talked about it all of the time. But I didn’t know if I was making any headway.

I had expressed a variety of plans for what ‘sounds’ I would be capturing with its little microphone. Plus I wanted to launch my very own audio documentary series. Topics would range from ‘what’s for dinner’ to exclusive interviews with my parents.

It was an ambitious plan… and admittedly a big ask on my part to begin with.
(This tech from the ‘70’s was not considered a ‘toy.’)

My father proclaimed his strong doubts, predicting the tape recorder would end up back in its box, abandoned in the back of my closet within a week. He would not be convinced.

I felt desperate.

But my mom read her parenting tea leaves differently.
All along she was leaning my way. But there was a problem…

Since she was a stay-at-home parent, my mom ran our home’s finances from a weekly budget that my father funded. And there wasn’t any extra money there to handle random electronics purchases. And my father wasn’t going to pony up extra bucks for this. So she had to get creative…

At the time, supermarkets ran marketing campaigns that gave customers prizes for their patronage. The more you shopped, the more stickers you got. And the more stickers you accumulated, the bigger the prize you could ultimately receive.

My mom did a lot of food shopping…
It took her months, but when my mom cashed out can you guess what item she chose…?

In what ended up as a unilateral parenting decision, she got me my cassette tape recorder.
It was a liberating moment. I think for both of us…

My new prized possession was a total home run. I began creating my audio ‘projects’ with gusto and imagination. And for years, that tape recorder was never far from my sight.

Looking back now, it was one of the most influential gifts I ever received…

If for some reason, you wanted to change the path of my entire life, all you’d have to do is jump into your time machine, go back to February 1970, and make sure I never received that tape recorder.

Hold onto Your Memories
Can you distill an entire childhood into one story? Of course not. But as I think back, it’s certainly a great memory to hold onto.

Was my mother at home with tech? Not really. That was always my father’s domain.

But she was certainly at home with my tech…
(I can only imagine what ‘fun’ comments she would have to offer me about my blog!)

I miss you, Mom.

Love you.

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