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Photo by Matt Kalicky, NYC

Dr. Christiane Northrup in Mother-Daughter Wisdom describes a nurturing spectrum (or mothering spectrum) which says that women differ at their cores in how they approach nurturing others.

Some are “traditional mothers” who have noticed and loved babies since they themselves were children; they get their deepest fulfillment from mothering. My own mother falls into this category.

All the way at the other end of the spectrum are “non-traditional mothers” who can certainly be as loving and attentive as traditional mothers, but don’t do it as naturally because they get their deepest fulfillment from within themselves.

Non-traditionals are turned inward; traditionals are turned outward.

Leaning more toward the non-traditional myself, I didn’t always notice small children…the way I do now.

Surely, my age and the last twenty-seven years I’ve spent being a mom have changed me.

Now, I gaze and smile and compliment the children to their moms, in the hopes of showing them the joys of mothering no matter what that day happens to look like to them. A commercial just played that says “The days are long, but the years are short.”

Walking uptown last week, a young mom was carrying a small daughter whose fleece hat was just about the cutest thing I’d ever seen. Kids in winter hats, their little pudgy faces framed by them, are just adorable.

But it was her brother, maybe 3 or 4 years old, in tiny jeans, his winter jacket and tiny hiking boots who caught my eye. His backpack was ¾ the length of his body, hanging off one shoulder and nearly dragging on the ground, but he was carrying it all by himself and his mom walked very slowly, patiently, so he could.


Then, driving the boulevard to work yesterday, I saw another little, maybe-five-year-old girl, running down the snow covered grass, again with a giant backpack against her tiny frame, and I wondered what was bobbing on her head. As I neared her, I saw it was a pony tail sticking straight up from the top of her head! I bet she wanted it that way.


And then there were “Oliver stories” which we wanted to hear every day when he was four. Oliver is the son of Frank’s colleague and stories about him were hysterically funny. I hope his parents are writing them down because some day Oliver (and his son) will revel in them.

Oliver dressed himself now that he was four before going to daycare. Dad had the morning routine for him and his brother and saw no problem letting Oliver dress however he wanted. And every day, the choice was a different super hero, whatever suited his mood, complete with capes, goggles, you-name-it.


And now comes Bea, another daughter of a colleague of Frank. Beatrice as the name of a tiny, blond, curly-haired little girl is a wonderful name….but Bea is even more suited to this smart, talkative, precocious, tiny sprite.

It’s so important we adults pause and notice.

Watching and being with children seems to put life and living into perspective.

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