My mother was a strong person despite her faults and short-comings. Unfortunately I don't think I figured this out until a few years after her death. Now I can look back and remember the good times and bad ones with equal joy, even though I miss my Mother terribly. She has been gone for all most fourteen years, but I know she and my father are having a great time in Heaven together. They are probably laughing their butts off at the screw-ups I continue to make as a mother. They know they worked hard when they had the chance to make me a good person and to teach me the right way to live my life. Some of those values did stick, at least I try very hard to pursue them.
My mom worked hard and helped me to see the value of a good work ethic. She would teach me that every morning available to her in the days of my summer break as we toiled out in our large family garden, pulling weeds and pruning plants. She taught me to play hard, too. She loved board games, card games and pulling practical jokes on all of us. The night she placed plastic spiders under my father's pillow is an especially vivid memory as he screamed loud enough to wake the dead. He harbored a huge terror of anything with eight legs.
I would look at the things that she did not do and hold her accountable for those too often and not at what she did do. Yes, she did not like to drive and would find ways to wait for my Father to get home to take us places. Yes, she would succumb to her headaches and stomachaches and lay in the bed when she felt sick. Why did this bother me? At that time, growing up in my home, I thought mothers were invincible. They had to be superwomen to conquer their daily lives. I had this image in my head of the perfect mother and my mother did not fit the bill all the time.
Now I know different. Now after becoming a Mother myself, I know that being a Mother is one of the hardest jobs in the world. You anxiously wait for nine months for this creature that is holding your lungs and bladder hostage to erupt out of your very body. And then you have no manual or rules or guidelines to help you navigate the motherhood road. You and your spouse are just supposed to love this tiny baby and figure it out amongst yourselves. The day my newborn introduced me to projectile poop is the day I
all most threw in the motherhood towel and that was in the first week.
One thing that my mother did teach me was to take some time to have fun with your children. Play games with them, read to them, actually listen to the words that come out of their mouths. In this day and time, mobile devices make it hard to unhook ourselves from the world, even for a minute. Find the time and put the phone and iPad down and actually play with your kids or set down and ask them about their day. It doesn't take rocket science to be a good mother, just time and effort.
The day my mom told me that she was going to be a mother again at the age of all most forty-two, was to say the least a memorable one. My parents had tried to have another child after me but had given up and sixteen years has passed since I was born and twenty since my sister. My parents faced what could be a hard road ahead with a baby born to parents at their advanced ages in that point in our history. These days many women have children in their forties, sometimes their first, but in 1979, the world did not have the medical advancements they do today. My parents told me that no matter what the challenges of this baby they would be having it. My mom went through endless tests and the day came for the results and she faced it all with calm because she knew that she was making the right choice for herself. My brother was born on a Monday in February and he was a healthy, strong baby boy fortunately without any mental or physical issues. My mom taught me a valuable lesson that day - how very strong she was and how very far she would go for one of her children.
My mom was always there for me when I needed her and even though she left this world too soon, she left her mark on me. She didn't let me get away with too much stupid stuff, and her and my fathers' voice were in my ear at those times when I was asking myself if what I was about to do made a lot of sense. She was the glue that held my family together and after she died, we were never the same again. You can survive, but you always need your mother.
What age does provide (in a good way), is the ability to look back at your life. So don't take one minute for granted and mother the hell out of your kids. They are grown and on their own before you know it. As Mother's Day approaches, I'm sure that we all are thinking about our moms and all they have done for us over the years. But if you are on the younger side and have not had the joy of facing Motherhood yet, give your Mom a break. It's a tough job. There may be days you see her crying for no reason and think she's having a nervous breakdown. She's probably not. There may be days that she yells at everyone in the household for no reason and then slams the door to her bedroom shut in your face. She just need a minute of privacy. Once you become a Mother, you will understand. I'm in my fifties, and my daughter still thinks it's fine to yell at me through the bathroom door to ask a question or even open it up if I cannot hear her. There will never be privacy again. Get used to it.
So on this Mother's Day, if you mom is alive, give her a big hug or a take the time for a long conversation over the telephone. You can bet she has been waiting to hear from you. If she's not, then take the time to remember those wonderful times you had with her. It may be a few years before you realize how much space she took up in your life and there will be a big hole when she is gone. But know that she loved you with her whole heart and body while she was here, as I love my child. One of the most important things my Mother taught me was that to be a good mother you do not have to be a perfect mother.
Happy Mother's Day!
My Mom & Daughter
My Husband & My Mother-in-law
My Daughter & Me on her Graduation Day from ECU