April 30, 2010

Motherhood comes with a loving heart…

Posted in Between Us column, Relationships, Television, Women at 5:33 am by dinaheng

If mother knows best, grandmothers know more.

“Meet My Mom,” a sweet Mother’s Day movie on The Hallmark Channel, which airs Saturday, May 8 at 9 p.m. Eastern, tells the story of divorcee Dana Marshall (played by Lori Loughlin), who moves with her son Jared (Charles Henry Wyson) back into her mother Louise’s house.

Louise, played by Emmy and Golden Globe nominee Stefanie Powers, encourages her daughter to go out with Sergeant Vince Carrera  (Johnny Messner), a career army man who’s got his own heart issues. While the movie centers on Dana’s dilemma, it’s Louise’s character that shows the kind of wisdom we admire in our mothers.

“Young women are finding themselves back on the market with young children today,” says Powers, 67, who is best known for her work on the iconic TV shows “The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.” and “Hart to Hart.” “There’s a lot of pressure for young people to get hooked up with somebody, get married, have a baby, blah blah blah, and the end result in far too many cases is it ends in divorce, or the partnership dissolves. Then, the young woman becomes extremely wary and may not see the gold at her feet.”

Powers, who has been married and divorced twice, knows something about affairs of the heart, and the willingness to try again. She advises women who have been hurt in the past to open their hearts, and give someone new a chance.

While she never had children of her own, she’s helped to nurture many along the way.

“Parenthood is one of the biggest, most important jobs there is, and it requires an enormous sacrifice because the children must come first,” Powers says. “I respect everyone who’s chosen that path, but I did not. Early on, I made the conscious decision that motherhood was not for me.

“But society doesn’t tell people enough that it’s okay not to have children. It doesn’t mean you’re irresponsible, or can’t help society in other ways. Giving birth has nothing to do with being a parent.”

The actress, who has devoted her life to animal preservation and protection, conservation and the environment, serves as president of the William Holden Wildlife Foundation, which preserves 37 species of East African wildlife in Kenya. Powers founded the charity in memory of Holden, her companion at the time of his death in 1981, and its education program serves more than 10,000 students a year.

“I have eight godchildren;  in Africa, I’ve sponsored 12 young people through university, and our education center has served many more young people,” Powers says.  Laughing, she adds, “I’ve got more school bills than anybody I know.”

Clearly, motherhood comes to those with a loving heart, whether or not marriage and a husband are part of the package. In Powers’ view, successful parenting means setting boundaries that prepare children for life.

“Modern parenting often leads people to think they need to be their children’s friends,” she says, “ but there needs to be an authority figure and the parameters, so the lesson becomes we’re always adjusting to the laws of the country, the mores of society, the dictates of our bosses, and the adjustments to relationship. There will be time for friendship with the children later.”

Powers is happy that  she was able to be close friends with her own mother, who shared a house with her for 27 years until she died last year.

“It’s unusual in show business to find a healthy and enduring relationship between mother and daughter,” Powers says. “We went through our hiccups, but once we were on the other side of that, we were able to see each other as individuals and respect each other. She was a wise mother.”

The character Powers plays in “Meet My Mom” is also a single mom, and while there’s no explanation of how this came to be, it’s clear that Louise is a woman to be admired. How do women reach this stage of wisdom in life?

“It’s what experience gives you,” Powers says. “Humans are a very dumb species, and it takes us a long time to learn something. The important things in life should be addressed from the inside out. Buddhism says if you understood the end of your life better, you might live the beginning of it very differently.”

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