The Mom Next Door Interview Series: Teri

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


For the very first interview in The Mom Next Door Series, it seemed obvious that it should be an interview with my own Mom.  Now that I'm a Mum, I see my own mother through a new perspective; daily reminding myself in moments of the sheer frustration and deepest joy of parenthood that many years ago, it was my mother who did this exact thing for me.  And despite that, because I am still her daughter; there lingers a tinge of indignation;  part of me that doesn't see her as just another Mom ("just like me"), but rather "My Mom" said with all the bravado and exasperation of my 13 year old self.

Reading my Mom's interview has given me a greater insight into the Mom she is (and always has been) to my sisters and I.  Like looking at her with the fresh eyes of a stranger rather than someone who has known her my whole life.

I always say that this blog is the way that I ensure that if (God forbid) something would ever happen to me, my kids would have my posts to read and get to know who their mother was; what she cared about, how she felt, and what mattered to her.  I am honored today to also include a bit of my own mother here now as well, forever.

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Who are you?  I am a 53 year old woman/wife/daughter/Mother/Grandmother named Teri ('Mum' to my daughters or 'Abba' to my grandkids). I live in Mineral Point, PA.  I am married to a 95% perfect man (seriously!) and we are the proud parents of three absolutely beautiful daughters and two 'never-cease-to-amaze-me' grandchildren.  We have a pet cat named Muchka (Serbian for 'cat'), and two goldfish named Mitch and Hasslehoff


My husband and I with our grandkids at the county fair last year
What do you do for work?  At the moment, I am not on a specific payroll, but I am grateful to be able to dedicate more of my life to taking care of people - which I have always tried to do within the limitations of working all my life and parenting.  I currently care for my 84 year old Father, my 90 year old neighbor, my 2 grand babies (when needed).  I volunteer at the local hospital one day a week and run errands for a family friend in need.  My schedule allows me to assist my daughters with whatever help they need, and reaching out to help anyone else who needs some sort of assistance.  It is a full plate at the moment but in reality, I would not change a thing.

What would your pre-mom self be surprised to know about motherhood?  No matter the books that you read, or advice that you are given, no one can really tell you how it feels to be a Mother until you are blessed to assume that role.  It is one of no greater title.  You are the keeper of a tiny person(s) that you gave birth to and your entire life will be spent making sure that person feels the love that you have for them.  Your choices and decisions may not go as planned, and your days will seem never ending because of the overwhelming feeling of fatigue.  Sometimes you feel like there is so much to do and everyone wants something from you.  You are not a 'you' anymore; you are the Mother with all of the responsibility that comes attached.  

At times it feels like an eternity of changing, grabbing, packing, hauling, unloading, washing, picking up, sweeping up, wiping tears, fixing boo boos, and constant worrying regarding their safety.  Unbeknownst to you at the time, your children are growing and all of this so called chaos is slowly fading away right before your blinking eyes.  You just don't know it yet because your days are so full of busy, caring love.


circa 1988
When I was pregnant with my first daughter, Tabitha, I worried if I knew how to be a Mother - let alone a good one!  I was frightened and excited and nervous and anxious all at the same time.  I can honestly say that the most important feeling that I experienced when I finally got to meet our first daughter was that I couldn't believe that the Good Lord blessed my husband and myself with such a perfect little person.  I didn't understand where my overwhelming abundance of love for this child was coming from; so deep within my core.  I wondered who am I to deserve such a gift?  With thanks and gratitude, I wanted to make sure I would do the very best in my power to take care of my little girl with all the safety, nurturing, love, and support as humanly possible.  

In the years of 1985 and 1989, I was able to realize again the wonderful magic of child birthing upon receiving our middle daughter Kayla and then our baby girl Tasha, respectively. 


Dropping Tabitha off for her first year of college - 2001

What would your pre-mom self be proud to know about you in motherhood?  I grew up the youngest in my family.  My Mother was truly a Saint of a lady who had juggled her life around my two older brothers who were in the ''70's Experimental Era' and a husband (my Father) whose life revolved around alcohol and gambling.  My years growing up were mostly that of a long (sometimes frightening), confusing phase of childhood.  Although I loved my parents, I always felt that if I could just do a little bit more; our home life would somehow turn into a 'normal' life like all of the other kid's lives were.  

My Mother loved me from the bottom of her heart and praised me like there was no tomorrow.  She truly was the rock that never gave up on the pounding ocean that seemed at times wanting to just swallow her up.  

I realize that not all families are fortunate enough to have both parents but with ours, my husband and I were dedicated to working together as a team raising our daughters.  Growing up, I knew my relationship with my husband and our teamwork together would be an important role in creating as much as a 'normal' life as possible. We didn't always agree on each other decisions but we chose to stick together with those decisions and I really think that made all the difference during our daughter's upbringing.  We truly are so proud of the women that they have become and every now and again we pat our selves on the back with how we have raised them.


at my daughter Kayla's wedding this year
What do you feel like you are really good at as a mom?  I believe that listening and spending time with them was the most important thing that we were able to do for them.  My husband and I both realized that if our children weren't talking to us then they were talking to someone else who would perhaps not be giving them the correct information regarding life's lessons.  

We also enforced that there was nothing they could try to get away with that we hadn't already tried ourselves.  We spent countless hours playing outside, taking walks in the woods, and fixing up our yard.  We believe it built their character, taught them how to handle things, and work and play as a team. 

We wanted them to know the importance of small joys; for example that receiving a card or letter in the mail is important because someone had thought about them and made the effort to let them know.  Going out to eat at a restaurant was a treat and reward and not a normal way of life.  Gifts and presents were at a minimum when money was tight but it was the thought that always counted;  our girls learned that money didn't buy a happy family, our togetherness did. 


circa 1987
Who are the moms you look up to?  As a child, I was very close to one of my Grandmothers; Buba (grandmother in Serbian).  Her name was Minnie Uzelac and she was the mother of 14 children, my own mother included!  When she was a child of 8 years, her Mother passed away and she assumed the responsibility of taking care of her siblings along with tending to the family farm.  When she was 13 years of age, her father either sold her to my Jedo (Grandfather in Serbian) in exchange for horses or my Jedo won her hand of marriage from Buba's father in a card game- (not exactly sure which scenario took place).  At the time, my Jedo was 27 years old!  

Buba and Jedo worked very hard with providing for their children despite their lack of education and poverty status.  Their love and caring ways emanated from both of them and the amount of lessons that they have taught their children and their children's children (including myself) was undoubtedly priceless.  I spent many a day at their house watching and learning as it was my safe haven to escape my own family's disarray.

With all of Buba's teachings - as simple and as pure as they were - they completely grew in the core of my being.  I was truly amazed that a woman who was practically an uneducated child when she wed, managed to give birth and raise 14 of her own children with no help as we would have in today's world.  This lady who was able to teach all of her children to have respect for themselves, respect for others, how to work together as a unit and get life's jobs done.  Remarkable in every sense of the word.  I can remember when I was about 8 years old, my Buba told me to, "Be kind to your Mother.  She is the only Mother that you will ever have".  It wasn't until I was older that her advice would truly resonate within my soul though. 

Myself, Buba, and my Mother with baby Tabitha in 1983
What was one of the most difficult mom moments you've had (so far)?  My Buba passed away in the year of 1990.  It was with much sadness in my heart that I had to say goodbye to such an incredible role model.  I was so thankful that I was in her life for so long and that she was able to meet my three daughters. 

In the year 2010, my own Mother passed away.  It was a day I will never forget.  It is a feeling that over time may not be as potent, but it is none the less a feeling that still lingers within me every day.  A Mother's love is like no other but the love I had for my Mother was just as equal.  I miss her more than I ever thought humanly possible.  Not only am I truly grateful that she was able to be a part of my life but that she had the opportunity to be a part of my daughter's lives as well.  It was on this day, that my Buba's advice when I was only 8 years old finally became crystal clear.

My Mother and I
My Mother with my daughters and I at Tabitha's first baby shower in January 2010.
What is one mom tip/trick that has made your life easier?  I think what really matters in a child's life is the quality of time that you spend with them.  Being there calmly and intently without interruption; letting them know that right at that very minute, they are all that matters to you and you care enough to just 'be' with them. As their parent, it's important to know and learn the difference between quality and quantity.

Me and my girls
What do you miss most from mom days already gone by?  Looking back as a Mother, I can honestly say what I miss the most is the seeing my little girls run around the house playing with their dolls and toys, asking me to "hold you", seeing them excited to watch their favorite shows on TV, waking them up on Christmas morning and running to the Christmas Tree to make sure Santa didn't forget about them, listening to their stories after I would say, "Tell me everything and make me feel like I was there", wiping their tears, sharing in their laughter, and seeing them play outside in our yard whether it was 'kick the can' or trampoline football.  

The memories I hold dear in my heart are those times I just stopped my everyday chores just to observe them through a Mother's eyes.  I was so blessed to have had three little, precious girls.  How I miss hearing their innocent little voices and that wonderful sound of them just giggling their own way through life. 

on vacation in the Outer Banks, NC in 1999
What are the small joys of being a Mom that you treasure most right now?  No matter what the age, as a Mother, I will devote myself to my children as they are a part of me and what I have created along with the Good Lord's grace.  I didn't think it was possible to love anyone as much as I love my daughters (along with their significant others too!)  They are truly my life - but in continuation of my own journey, my love has somehow found a new level;  my children started having children of their own.

My granddaughter, Gemma, and I before my daughter Kayla's wedding.
Photo credit:  Shell Bailey

1 comment:

  1. Love this series Tab! Beautifully written Teri <3

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