Mothering in Kentucky



I returned to Kentucky to become a mother. I've written before about how important it was to me that my children be Kentuckians. However, I've come to believe that it was essential not only that they begin their journeys as people in the Bluegrass State but also that I begin my journey as a mother.

First and foremost, I wanted to be home - among my people, among the mothers who mothered me. I knew in my weakest moments as a mother having my mother and my mother's mother and my father's mother mere moments away would make me stronger.

However, it was more than that. Kentucky called to me not only as the place of my birth but as a culture and a way of life that made me the person I am today. I remember long discussions with my husband before we decided to move back to my small hometown. He was concerned about the lack of diversity and opportunity. There would be no museums (beyond the quilt variety of course). No foreign language immersion programs. No art appreciation field trips.

My response was always you have your entire adult life to experience diversity and art and all the big city has to offer.

You only have one childhood.

Kentucky gave me a very specific type of childhood - a childhood built around community and culture. I always had the profound sense that I was being looked out for and supported. I knew the people in my community were rooting for me.

Do children who grow up in different locales experience that?

Of course and I like to think my children would have turned out well no matter where we lived. However, I'm not sure I would have been as good as a mother. I am a striver, a doer, an achiever. The siren song of the big city and all the ambition it symbolizes wouldn't have served me well in my role as a mother.

I need the slow living of my Kentucky home. I need to see the faces and places of my childhood to remind me regularly of what really matters. I need a place where the first thing people ask you is "Do you have any kids?" not "Who do you work for?" in order to be the best mother I can be.

I needed to be in Kentucky.

~ Sarah Stewart Holland