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"As I sat, staring at my blank computer screen and thinking about the upcoming Mother's Day, it dawned on me that I happen to know three mothers who come very close to symbolizing not only what motherhood is all about, but how very much our attitudes about mothering change.Mother #1 was and is the traditionalist. Married 'til death do they part; four children; she never worked outside her home even when times were leanest, because her job was to be a wife and mother and she devoted her life and all her waking hours to it. Nothing was as important as taking care of her husband and children and, to this day, she believes that is a woman's role. She is quite vocal about today's troubled children and says point blank there'd be very little of that if mothers were home, doing their job. Three of her four children went through divorces; she has numerous grandchildren and even a few great-grandchildren, most of whom she seldom sees, and she laments that she doesn't even know them. This is not what she imagined her life would be like as she nears what she knows to be the final act and wonders, when she worked so hard to set a good example, why her kids found it so difficult to get it right. She tries hard not to be critical of her daughters. Mother #2 is the one I think of as the transitionalist. She married and began a family, holding to the same basic beliefs as Mother #1...you married for life, raised your children to be decent, honest citizens, and took care of the home fires. However, she soon found herself in the midst of a new generation of young women who believed it wasn't enough to be just a wife and mother and, as soon as her kids started school, she eagerly became one of the swelling echelon of career mothers, women who honestly believed they could have it all and darned near killed themselves trying. Many of these women also discovered that their spouses' attitudes didn't necessarily change when theirs did and marriages suffered, then began to disintegrate. Mother #2 did what many mothers of her era tried to do when they found themselves in such a situation; she stayed with the marriage until the kids were grown for the children's sake, then went through a painful, guilt-ridden divorce. She's now both a worried mother and stepmother, watching her daughters fight to get a handle on motherhood. This is far from what she imagined her golden years would be like back when she started down the road of motherhood, and she sometimes wonders what she might have done differently. She tries hard not to be critical of her daughters.Mother #3 is far removed from Mother #1 and, in some ways, even Mother #2. Yes, she married, albeit later in life than Mothers #1 and #2 and began a family because she wanted children and believed she and her husband could follow in the traditional role. But, when it was apparent this would not be the case, she, like many of her generation, did not feel compelled to stay with an unsatisfactory marriage for the children's sake, and so joined the ever-increasing ranks of what are now called single mothers. She works because she must, but often wishes she could, as Mother #1 did, just stay at home and take care of her two little girls. Even though she and her ex worked out a joint custody situation that works well for them and hopefully for the kids, maintaining two separate households is an emotional, psychological and financial balancing act for both, and she is often discouraged. She says this is not what she earlier imagined her child rearing years would be like and wonders not only what she could do differently, but what paths her own two girls will follow as they take over the role and begin the job of motherhood. She tries hard not to be critical of her mother, who she feels just doesn't understand what her life is like. Three mothers, three seemingly very different lives and methods of mothering, but I know for a fact that they have a great deal more in common than my brief sketches of their lives would indicate. I know it to be true that all three of these women wanted all of their children with all their hearts; they love their children unconditionally and unsparingly; they give unstintingly of their time to be with and support their children; and above all, they want their children to have good lives, to know happiness and to give happiness.Motherhood is a state of heart, not mind; it's the hardest job on earth and it doesn't always turn out the way you imagined. Take it from three mothers who know: numbers 1, 2 and 3....my mom, myself and my daughter.RecipesIn the midst of all the happy Mother's Day gatherings, please take a tiny moment Sunday to send a thought of sympathy to all the mothers who suffer today because of lost children, no matter how they became lost. And if you're looking for something special to fix for Mom or perhaps take to someone else's Mom to brighten her day, try either of these delicious treats. Mom #1 loves pineapple, and I know she'll love this tart, which I tasted at a wine/dessert party and promptly got the recipe for.Pineapple Coconut Tart1/2 cup diced fresh or canned pineapple, drained1 unbaked tart shell, 9 1/2 to 10 inch (use your favorite tart pastry recipe)7 T. unsalted butter, softened1 cup sugar2-1/2 cups unsweetened dried shredded coconut2 large eggsConfectioners sugar1. Scatter pineapple pieces over the bottom of the tart shell, pressing them gently into the dough. Put in freezer for 5 minutes.2. In bowl with an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until well blended. Beat in coconut and then beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Spread this filling evenly in the tart shell. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven 50-55 minutes, until top is a deep golden brown and center of the tart is set. Cool completely on a wire rack and dust with confectioners sugar before serving. If not serving immediately, refrigerate tart, then bring to room temp. and add confectioners sugar before serving.For Mom #3, who loves strawberries, a quick, easy but delicious taste of spring, from the National Honey Board:Strawberry Honey Chiffon Pie2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries, thawed if frozen3/4 cup honey1 envelope unflavored gelatin1/4 cup cold water1 cup light sour cream9 inch crumb pie crust1. In a small bowl, mash the strawberries with 1/4 cup of the honey; set aside.2. In a small saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over cold water; let stand 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup honey and warm over low heat until gelatin dissolves. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream. Refrigerate 10-15 minutes, or just until mixture begins to thicken.3. Using an electric mixer, beat the gelatin mixture at medium speed until light. Stir in the strawberries, mixing until well combined. Pour into the prepared crust, cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Before serving, garnish top with fresh berries and/or sprigs of mint. Serves 8. "