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Mildred Smith says of mothering — never leave anything unsaid

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TOWNSEND — In just under four years, Mildred B. Smith will celebrate a century of life, with much of that time spent as a mother. As Mother’s Day nears, she reflected on her family and how much love there exists among them.

Being a mother is something Smith knows a lot about: On top of four children of her own, she has 14 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren.

“It’s wonderful,” she said simply. “I love it.”

She recalls her four children being “good kids” growing up, though they would occasionally get in her hair just a little bit.

“A lot of the times, I think they did it just to get me going,” she laughed. “My husband was more easygoing.”

They had three daughters — Paula, Joan and the late Jean — and one son, Brian. Smith still sees her three living children regularly, as they all live close by. She acknowledged that she comes from a very affectionate family and even those who can’t visit as often as she, or they, would prefer are quick to pick up the phone in the interim.

“It’s nice to hear from them,” she said, adding that many of her grandchildren send cards or make it a point to call on Mother’s Day. And they never leave anything left unsaid.

“When I talk to them on the phone and they get ready to leave, they say, ‘I love you,'” Smith beamed. “We do get together a lot.”

She recalled a conversation she had with her then-4-year-old great-grandson, when she made the decision to move to Atwood Acres, where she currently resides. The youngster didn’t quite understand why she needed to move somewhere new, even after she explained that the house was just too big for her at that point in her life.

“He said, ‘We would have come and lived with you,'” Smith recalled with a laugh.

Mothering always came naturally to Smith, though she said she learned a little more with each child simply because each child was a different experience. She was strict with her children, but never saw the need for physical punishment beyond, as she put it, “a little tap on the butt,” when needed.

“I still believe it doesn’t hurt,” she noted. “I got one spanking growing up and I learned my lesson!”

Her child-rearing was not without its moments, though. She recalled that when her children began dating it became a “very weird period.” Once, a suitor arrived to pick up one of her daughters for a date, but just pulled into the driveway and honked the horn. Smith told her daughter she would not be going anywhere until he came to the door, which he did a few minutes later.

As far as parenting advice for the new millennium, Smith advised new or aspiring mothers to face the inevitable.

“You know you’re going to make mistakes, but be calm and cool and laugh a lot,” she offered.

Above all else, she said, make sure your children know how much you care as often as possible.

“You have to be very loving. Make sure the child knows it, even as a baby. Tell them how good they are.”

Her children returned that love, especially on Mother’s Day over the years. Some days she was pampered, other days they took trips, but they were always together as a family.

“It’s a nice day,” she said of the holiday, adding that, for some older mothers, it’s the only day of the year when children will come to visit.

“Fortunately, they’re good like that,” Smith said of her own son and daughters. “I really do think I did a good job. They were all very good, every one of them. I do have a lot of memories. Good memories.”

However, she would not take full credit for her success.

“My mother taught me how to love and care and I passed it on.”

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