Happy Mothering Day…


…is fundamental to all beings.

…involves nurturing and raising children.

…extends far beyond biology and bodies.

…is the act and practice of love and the passing on of knowledge.

…occurs across multiple times and spaces

…is political.

…is life.

“Mothering is not limited to relationships between a female parent and her biological offspring. Mothering, as a relationship and practice, is a social and cultural act that occurs between multiple configurations of people of many generations – individually and communally. This is something Indigenous peoples have always known, celebrating extended families and lauding the wisdom of matriarchs as it applied and was transmitted to all the younger generations of a community. Mothering, understood in this way as a complex web of relational practices, was and is fundamental to life. This is perhaps also why mothering has often been so threatened while simultaneously holding the potential for (re)building the inherent strengths in our communities.

Aboriginal mothering is recognized as extending beyond the biological act of giving birth and involving a multitude of roles and relationships across times, spaces and generations. Strength to move forward as healthy individuals, families and communities is inextricably linked to Aboriginal women, mothers, grandmothers and aunties….”

The Sacred Space of Womanhood- A National Showcase on First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Women and Mothering

©2012 National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health

©2016 Susan Kendall. All rights reserved




Middle Bit…….

The middle child often does get left out. In some families they act out more than the other children. In some families they simply remain quiet and become the peacemaker, friendly with all sides. Our middle kid tends to be quieter and is closer to her sisters than they are to each other. She is sometimes a bridge for them.

The year of the second child pregnancy Sam’s Mom was a baby. She was very busy and not into naps. She did like to be held and rocked. I managed to find time to indulge in my favorite past-time, reading. I read all of Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring trilogy and I read Mary Stewart’s The Crystal Cave. I wanted to name the baby Keridwen after the sorceress who was Merlin’s nemesis. We would call her Keri. At that time, I did not know that Keridwen was based upon Ceridwen, (hard “C”, Celtic pronunciation, please) the witch, sorceress, temptress found in Celtic folklore.

The baby father and I disagreed upon the proposed name and discussed other options. Julie Robin was one option. As I played around with all kinds of name combinations I came up with Keri Robin. Pretty close, don’t you think? Baby father agreed and her name was Keri Robin.

Years later the baby father told me he ought to have let me name her Keridwen. He could not remember why he did not want to. The name was still prophetic. Miss Keri took Latin, loved it and all things mythical and mystical came her way. She had a wonderful imagination and is exploring her writing muse these days. She can draw and create and is gentle with animals.

Keri earned every art and horseback riding badge in Girl Scouts and still found time for swimming, canoeing, camping, cooking and friends. She has lived her life bravely, with love and enthusiasm. I want to share the portion of the Kahlil Gibran poem I hand wrote on her homemade birth announcements. In 1972, the words raised some family eyebrows. His words touch me deep down in my heart………

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
and though they are with you, and yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love, but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward, nor tarries with yesterday

Kahlil Gibran, from The Prophet

Happy Birthday, Keri Robin. Wishing you many more………

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Mother’s Day ……

My sister had a project scheduled in the northwest Chicago suburbs this week. She wanted to know what we could do if she came to town on Sunday morning. After checking the calendar and consulting with Sam’s Mom and Mike, we made our plans for Mother’s Day. My sister and I would have brunch and then pick Sam’s Mom up at her in-law’s. From there we would attend the Evanston History Center Annual Mother’s Day Historical House Walk and Tour. This year the walk was held in the Lake Shore Historic District.

All I can say is ….WOW! The houses were built from the 1870’s thru 1890’s. One house was said to be modeled after Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s house in Cambridge, MA. I visited HWL’s home in 1992 and was interested in the similarities. The foyer and main staircase is definitely the same as I remember. The gardens in all of the homes were beautifully landscaped and arranged.

One of our favorite parts was the row of cabanas along the oval, sculpted edged pool at the second house. The cabanas were like something out of a movie. I have done a lot of home tours in many states and I have never seen anything like this. The cabanas in Katherine Hepburn’s The Philadelphia Story come close.

One of the 1870’s houses had an attic completely outfitted for children, including hidden passageway rung ladders up from the children’s bedrooms on the second floor.  After examining the ins and outs of the passageway I mentioned the need to do something different when the children become teenagers. They will be able to find a way out of the house and down the front staircase while the parents are sleeping in the master bedroom at the back of the house. Having been through this particular nightmare several times, I’m just saying…..

The day was wonderful and we laughed and shared and had a great time with each other. A very good day…….

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Happy Birthday, Hayley……..

My youngest granddaughter turned 4 years old today. There was an amazing cake everyone “oohed and ahh’d” over.

Jami has always liked to bake and decorate cakes. Hayley opened up her presents, played with her new play food and wore the new GAP clothes Grandma sent her.

Yesterday she asked her big sister, Alice, if her “friends” would come to her party. Her friends are her second cousins once removed or her third cousins or as we say in our family, they are all cousins and it is all good. Some of Alice’s friends came and brought presents, too. They had a special time.

Hayley, may all your wishes come true this year and always………

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Tea Party…….

My daughters planned a tea party for me last Sunday.  There were several generations there, my Aunt Marge and my Uncle Bob’s widow, Aunt Mary. There were cousins, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, grandnieces, grandchildren and friends, cousin Cheryl and friend Cheryl, Girl Scout friends, childhood friends, adulthood friends.

There was cake, hot tea, finger food, conversation, sharing stories, laughter, funny cards. We had such a good time. During sharing birthday girl stories time one of my cousins told about my helping her and her mother out on a Girl Scout camp out for one of the younger cousins. The girls hiked through muddy water and I guess when Aunt Mary asked how we could let them do that I replied “they were having so much fun. “

My daughter Keri said the phrase “they were only having fun” is a Mom story in itself… children are out on the roof, up in the attic, playing in the water, crafting with scissors and glue, pounding on musical instruments, out in the snow, raking up leaves and jumping in the piles, snacking between meals, staying up late… because Mom is all about having fun. I have to agree with her. Life is way too short to not have fun. I like to plan fun, have fun and share fun.

Thanks for the party girls. The afternoon was wonderful, we had fun……

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Busy Days……….

Hayley and her parents stopped by so Hayley could stay with Grandma and Sam for awhile. Sam and Hayley played side by side with Sam’s toys. Aunt Leslie had to go pick up milk at the dairy store. Hayley went along to see the cows and Sam took a nap.

Alice, Hayley and their mom came over to Aunt Leslie’s house after school. We talked and played and spent time together. They went home for dinner.

Sam and his mom went to dinner at the home of one of her close friends.

I dressed and went out with my friends of almost 55 years. Dinner was wonderful. The conversation was great. We sat and talked for several hours and then we went back to my sister’s home and talked until about 11:30 PM. We reminisced about school, friends, families, first puffs of cigarettes. Sam and his mom came home. He slept through the admiration party by all of the grandmas in the room.

Saturday morning found me with my three daughters and three of my granddaughters in a Kansas City suburb at a baby shower for one of the nieces from my first marriage. Their mother and I continue to be sisters-in-law in both deed and action. My niece was so cute with her baby bump and my other niece is obviously delighted with becoming an aunt. The other niece is engaged and her wedding will be in August. The save the date magnet is on my refrigerator. Hmmmm…..might be a really interesting story day.

Saturday afternoon we were at grandson Jacob and White Storm’s District Pinewood Derby contest. I am happy to report, White Storm came in 7th out of 105 contestants. Sam, his mother and I gave Alice and Kahlan a ride back to Topeka for a child care gig, while Peter, Jacob, Hayley and their mothers slumber partied in Olathe. After the derby, my son-in-law was somewhere, hiding out, I am sure.

Sam and his mom were off to another friend’s home while grandma was doing the town with her sisters.

Stay tuned for more adventures on the road with Lilypad and Co……….

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Lilypad on the road……….

We drove to Kansas several days later than expected.  Sam’s mom had a cold and Sam’s ear infection was back so we skipped the first two days of the trip which had included a visit to Allen Field house on the University of Kansas campus to watch the KU Men’s basketball team beat Texas A&M. Every year I think I will get to be Aunt Margie’s escort to at least one game. Sigh. Maybe next year.

Sister Leslie had broccoli and chicken or pork rice casseroles ready for us when we arrived. I had the chicken with mushrooms option. YUM! Sam played hard to get with his great-aunt and great-uncle. His latest trick is winking his eyes closed like he is hiding himself. Kind of like my little woodchuck. It took at least 10 minutes of sidling around and clutching his mom or my legs before he warmed up and made himself at home.  The lord of this manor is Mr. Knightley, the cat. Sam was on the floor with Mr. K and his toys almost immediately.

Sister Penny is very busy at her work these days. She was busy Thursday rearranging her schedule for the weekend festivities because she thought we were not coming for another month or so. I guess she thought there were two March’s this year.  She wanted to meet us for breakfast this morning, early she said, 8 – 8:30. She called later on and said maybe 7:30 would be better. Okay, we were game. She called again around 7 this morning and said to slow down our departure because she was just up. I love Penny!  Sam, his mother and I squeezed into Leslie’s 2011 Jeep, a REALLY nice ride, and stopped by for Jami.  A really good breakfast was had by all at IHOP on Wanamaker Road in Topeka.

Tonight is dinner with two really dear friends. We first met 55 years ago this upcoming September in the afternoon kindergarten class at Oakland Grade School. We share March birthdays and celebrate together as often as we can. We have been through marriages, divorces, miscarriages, children, grandchildren, parent deaths …………

Come with me the next few days as we follow the proverbial Kansas yellow brick road………

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Imaginary Friends……………..

When my oldest daughter was around 7, we lived in a 1920’s airplane bungalow. The girls’ bedroom was upstairs off of the kitchen. Standing at the kitchen sink, I could hear Jill talking to someone in her bedroom and knew she was by herself.

I was not surprised; when she was younger she would talk to her imaginary friends Polly Esther and Dac Ron while playing with material scraps under my sewing table.

As she came down the stairs into the kitchen, I saw she was dressed up in her best clothes with matching shoes.

 “Well hello, who are we today?” I asked.

 “Jill” she replied in the ‘exasperated by mother’ tone.  You know the one.

“Are you going out?” I asked.

“Yes, I am a lawyer judge and I am going on a date with my lawyer friend.”

“Well have fun”, I managed to say.

 As she moved off to continue her play, I went back to the kitchen sink, a smile on my face, thinking maybe we were heading in the right direction. She was obviously graduated from college, in a career and she was still just dating. I remember thinking we would have the ethics talk regarding which lawyers judges ought to date another time.

I shared this story today at the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce Women in Leadership Series luncheon. My topic was Women Leader Transitions. I spoke on my leadership journey. During my journey I was always wondering if I was doing the correct thing at the right time. The girls kept me grounded in the present while I was preparing for the future.

Every once in a while I think of Polly and Dac. I miss them………..

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


A Sam Down Day

Sam has a fever and an earache. His Mama took him to the walk-in hours at his pediatrician office in the morning. Walk-in hours at a children’s doctor’s office are a really great innovation. The sick children are separated from the well children, the doctor can see you without an appointment and the parent’s anxiety over what is wrong may be relieved quicker.

According to the doctor Sam has a “flaming ear infection”. Mom brings him home to me and then goes out to pick up the prescription. Generally, Sam is upset when anyone leaves his condo, let alone his Mama. He did not even seem to notice.

A child in pain tugs at emotional heartstrings differently than a happy, smiling, playful or sleeping child. They are small and vulnerable. They hurt without knowing why. When sick, I am crabby and cranky and miserable and I know what is going on.

After his Tylenol, Sam was distracted from his pain long enough to give me a little grin every now and then. He wanted me to play our little game only he did not even run from me. He would walk several steps and look back at me. I would pick him up, kiss his neck and put him down. He would take another step and we would repeat the whole process. In a very short while he wanted to be held again.

He ate all of his cereal and mashed bananas as his mother left for her hair appointment. He barely noticed her leaving. We sat on the sofa. He would lean on me or set on my lap or slide down to the floor. Curious George was on the TV. He liked that for a little while. Then he was back on the sofa, leaning on me, sitting on my lap, sliding to the floor. At one point he clearly wanted me to rock him and I complied. So unlike Sam, he fears the sandman during the day something fierce.

Fifteen minutes before his Dad came home, Sam slid to the floor, laid his head down and was asleep almost instantaneously.

Glancing back as I left, my heartstrings tugged, poor baby Sam………..

Disclaimer: Pseudonyms will be used for persons 17 years of age and under

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Cycling Time………

We have always wanted a pond in our garden.  We planned one for the garden in Kansas and moved before we could get it done. In Illinois, visiting grandchildren started digging in 2007.

Alice and friends

What with one thing and several serious health setbacks for another, the pond was not completed with plants, flowers, backfill, landscape flagstones, tadpoles and goldfish until this past spring. Our granddaughter Alice has spent part of her summers with us the past three years. She helped move dirt and flagstone the past two years.

When grandchildren visit, we plant flowers and vegetable gardens, play games and take walks, cook and bake, take field trips to museums and aquariums’.  The time I spend with them carries on the family tradition of connecting generations. The continual renewal of this generational connection is part of the same cycle of growth, dormancy and renewal we find in our gardens.

My grandmother Dorothy had a wonderful garden in her yard. I helped her weed and plant and transplant many different kinds of flowers and plants. When I was a young wife and mother, we lived next to Grandma Dorothy. My children had the opportunity to see Grandma almost every day. They were in the garden with us a lot.

She told me of going with her mother to visit her mother. While they talked, my grandmother would cross the yard and visit her great-grandmother in her garden next door. Her great-grandmother shared stories of when she was a 12 year old child living in Virginia during the Civil War. My grandmother listened and learned while spending time in her Grandma Mary Jane’s garden.

This continuous cycle of learning and listening and loving is made possible by the generosity of time and sometimes material investment of the parents of the children. I want my daughters and son-in-laws to know how much we appreciate them sharing their most precious gifts with us. My time with my grandmother is still a blessing to me. I hope my time with my grandchildren is a blessing to them.

Today is my daughter Jami’s birthday. Grandma Dorothy watched her trying to keep up with her sisters. She laughed and called them Big Bit, Middle Bit and Little Bit. Grandma always made either a lemon or chocolate sheet cake for birthdays. We would play games and talk and be together. The memories we created are priceless.  Birthdays mark the passage of time and are symbolic of our personal life cycle.

Happy Birthday, Little Bit…….

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved