Woster: Mom has always known best

"I used to tell my three kids they should send me a Thank You card every Mother’s Day," Terry Woster writes.

Terry Woster

I used to tell my three kids they should send me a Thank You card every Mother’s Day.

I picked their mom. They got a good one in Nancy, maybe the best in the world. You are welcome, kids.

On the other hand, it is possible I didn’t pick her. When I once told Nancy how early in our relationship I knew we would marry, she called me a slowpoke. I can’t remember exactly when she said she knew, but it was a lot earlier than when I knew.

She came to motherhood with experience and education. She didn’t have formal training as a mother, but she had two younger brothers, one 10 years younger. They made her kind of a second mother around the house.

I had two younger siblings. I was a middle child. I checked out of family goings-on early. I don’t think I once helped with the raising of the little ones. That isn’t right, not today and not 70 years ago. It’s how it was.


When our first child, a daughter, arrived, I was afraid to hold her. What if I dropped her? Newborns are so tiny, and I can’t remember ever holding an infant before our own.

Nancy took to parenting with confidence and ease. I will never forget how comfortable she seemed with everything about that little girl. Nursing, burping, changing, whatever. It came so naturally to her.

More than that, she had all that nurse’s training. She knew how to not panic when one of the kids spiked a fever, broke out in a rash, jammed a handlebar into the side of their mouth in a bicycle wreck or didn’t come home on time from playing with a kindergarten classmate from around the block

I would panic in any of those situations. Nancy calmly assessed the situation and responded, quickly and rationally. Maybe all mothers do that. Probably do, one way or another. Otherwise, humanity would become extinct in short order.

Besides our daughter, we have two sons. Sometimes I get confused over which one of the two was involved in which scrape or crash or fight. I don’t recall which of the boys it was, but I won’t forget the quiet evening at home when I answered a loud banging at the west door. A neighbor down the street, wild-eyed and shouting, held our son in his arms. The little boy howled, too. Some sort of bike crash had driven the kid face-first into the curbing down the block. At first glance, I couldn’t be sure it was our child. His face was covered with blood. I joined the neighbor in shouting as I grabbed my boy.

Chances are good that the neighbor and I would have stood there yelling for the rest of the night if Nancy hadn’t appeared. She asked us to be quiet, wet a wash cloth, directed me to lift the child’s head and, as she softly shushed and soothed him, calmly began to wipe away the blood so she could see the extent of the damage.

That was the evening I learned that even minor head wounds bleed a lot. The kid only had a few actual scratches and a cut or two that needed to be cleaned and closed with butterfly bandages. Because he likely had struck his head, we had to check his pupils now and then for several hours. No permanent damage, but if his mother hadn’t been around, I’m not sure if the neighbor, the kid and I would ever have stopped hollering.

Maybe the best thing about Nancy as a mother is the way her three children have stayed close to her as adults. No matter how far away they are, they have regular contact, long phone conversations and frequent visits back home.


In landline days, when a kid called and I answered, it took about 45 seconds before they asked, “Is mom there?’’ What I really liked about mothers back then was that when the kids called, I could talk for a few seconds and then say, “Well, you will want to talk with your mom."

They always did. Still do, and that’s cool.

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