Most everyone loves to make fun of what they call “Hallmark Holidays” but it has always seemed right and good to me that mothers should have a day set aside in their honor. After all, they are the ones who take us through the snotty noses and poopy diapers all the way to adulthood. My own mother passed away several years ago, but her three children still invoke her name and witticisms daily – not to mention her Hints from Heloise (remember to dry out those potatoes before you mash them!).
So today Liberty Nation thought it proper to talk to someone who’s made it her life’s work to raise five wonderful children.
Her name is Ann Winsor and Liberty Nation recently spoke with her about the trials and triumphs of motherhood. We hope you find her comments about the joys and sorrows of motherhood as inspiring as we did:
LN: Ann – you are a mother of five and at the same time you have done many other things with your life. You’ve been a U.S. Ambassador’s wife. You have worked as a court advocate translator as well as volunteered to visit the terminally ill in a hospice, but I’ve always gotten the sense from you that motherhood has been the central role for your life. It always seemed to be your focal point. Is that true?
Ann: Yes. Motherhood is my main thing and I just loved it. Loved having children. I would have liked to have had more kids. And it was a lot of work, I must say, but you know it always is with kids. That’s just part of the job – difficult but rewarding. But through it all I really enjoyed it and I loved spending a lot of time with them. I was a full-time mom. Let’s put it that way.
LN: What was the toughest part of being a mother to you?
Ann: Teenagers. It’s easy when they’re little kids, you know — when they’re younger, but once they’re teenagers I think it’s much more of a challenge because they’re independent and they want to have their own rules and you don’t just control them like you do with the younger ones. They want to go their own way but they are not quite ready yet. It’s a balancing act.
Still, we had fun with the teenagers, too, I must say. We’d take trips together and all. They were older and you could really talk to them about everything. We went all over. We went up to Canada and we went to Europe and we just tried to expose them to different cultures. We also went to Latin America and just really enjoyed our family time together. And we missed them so much when they all went away.
LN: Well, let’s talk about that a little bit. There comes the time when they start to fly off on their own and you face that empty nest. How did you deal with that? And what is it like having adult kids? My mother-in-law one said to me, “Little kids, little problems. Big kids, big problems.” And I always thought there was great wisdom in that.
Ann: Yes. Yes. I agree. When they’re little it’s just a matter of getting things done and doing things for them – you have control, but then when they get to be older it’s way more complicated.
But oh, how we missed the kids after they all left! Weekends were especially hard because we always did so much as a family on weekends. Weekends were really stark and then we sort of realized — hey, we can plan our own time and do our own thing now. We missed them a lot but we were happy too, in a way, that they were off on their own and doing their own thing.
LN: So what did you do with all that time?
When my kids grew up I could do more volunteer work than I did when they were at home because I was freer. I started translating in the Courts and hospice work. You know, there are a lot of very, very lonely people that have no visitors, no nothing and so they sent me around to different people so they could talk to me. We built relationships. When my kids were home I could only do those things part time.
LN: Could you tell me a little bit what your mom was like?
Ann: Oh, my goodness. Well, my parents were divorced. So, we didn’t see her all the time. We just saw her in the summertime. It was a different era and she remarried and she went away to live in Europe so we weren’t always together. I mean months would go by without seeing her. My husband Curt likes to say she was a better grandmother than she was a mother.
LN: Well, that brings up another topic. What’s it like being a grandmother?
Ann: Oh, I like being a grandmother, but you know, they’re all busy, busy and they’re all over the place. It’s fun. But then they all go home and it’s, you know, they’re not yours like when you have them as your own children. It’s just a very different dynamic.
LN: And finally, I thought a lot about whether to bring this up but you are such an open and authentic person I thought I could. You have suffered probably the worst difficulty that a mother can face – the loss of a child. Are you able to articulate how that affected you from a mother’s standpoint?
Ann: Oh, that was, I think, the hardest thing in my whole life. You never expect it. You’re not prepared for it. And there he was — our only son, too. I think about him every day and you know, it’s just the way it is. Curt, my husband likes to say that you bury your parents in the hills and you bury your children in your heart. We both really, really, miss him and it’s so hard because, well, you just don’t expect it.
LN: Finally, Ann, what kind of advice do you have for new mothers, young mothers, and mothers-to-be?
Ann: Love your kids — a lot. Spend a ton of time with them because before you know it, they’re off. I know that sounds cliché but it really does go pretty fast. It’s not an easy job but just love them and let them know you love them — that’s important, too.
LN: Well, Happy Mother’s Day, Ann. You are one of the great mothers that I have ever had the pleasure to meet. And you have been a role model for many in this town known as The Swamp. We have witnessed you — with all the important people that have surrounded you and the many roles in your life –you have always put your kids first. And that speaks volumes as to the kind of person you are.
I am honored to do this interview with you.