I thought this would be the perfect time to put some thoughts down about my mother… on account of it’s Mothers’ Day and all.
My mom is pretty much a saint. She had a rough life growing up in rural Iowa… sure, there was lots of love, but they didn’t have an abundance of too much else going around. Her mother was still a teenager when she had my mom, and several miscarriages/live births later, went on to raise a total of five kids. My mom was the oldest.
In spite of all the odds stacked against her, my mom went on to become the star that she was destined to be. Her siblings, like her, had a tough life… but all of them- and most especially my mother- ultimately prevailed.
She met my dad in college- they fell in love, and after a couple years, got married. I am proud that they are still married 40 years later. Too many couples aren’t.
My mother is one of the most open-minded, big hearted people I have ever met.
She is also the biggest hard ass I have ever met.
The cool thing is that for all her strict rules, all her demands, she practiced what she preached.
She was extremely strict on all of us, but she never made any rules she didn’t follow herself. She never asked us to do anything she herself hadn’t done a thousand times.
Along with my father, she instilled a strong sense of justice in me, she walked me through countless life lessons of my own- and no matter how hard I hurt, no matter how many tears I shed, my mother always stayed strong.
When I was plucked from the foster homes as a young kid, ready to be adopted- it was my mother and father who were waiting for me to come home to them. Quite amazing that they picked me-they were, after all, an affluent white couple… they chose the skinny little mixed kid, who the state had classified as”High Risk” (no idea what the hell happened to the skinny part- that went by the wayside, I guess).
When I had questions about my body, my race, my sexuality… it was my mother that gave me the very frank talks about sex, diseases, protection and everything in between.
I learned from my mother that I am beautiful- not in spite of the fact that I look so different from my white family- but because of it. My mom taught me to love that I don’t fit the norm, and embrace it fully. I learned from my mother- at the dinner table, no less- that abstinence is key, but there is no excuse for not having safe sex. Though I blushed a few times and squirmed in my chair- I was told the truth, and always knew the consequences of my actions.
When I went through my most rebellious of days as a terrible adolescent, my mother got me through it- sometimes with her own blood, sweat and tears. I know I was a challenge for her- but my mother never let me get away with disrespecting myself or anyone else. If I did, and she learned of it- there was hell to pay. Always.
When I was called a nigger for the first time in my life in high school, it was my mother I drew my strength from. She taught me that some people are just jerks- and that it is never ok to base my personal understanding of who I am on a bunch of closed minded idiots.
When I suffered through the break up of my first love, it was my mother that taught me that contrary to how I felt on that day- my life was not over, and the world had not come to an end. She promised me, and her word held true, that there was other love out there. She told me I’d be ok. She, of course, was right.
When I was raped in college, and had to decide whether or not to press charges, I got my strength to do what was right from her. Even then, she wasn’t mushy. She was devastated that her daughter had been hurt- but she was strong, she was poised, and she told me that I was going to get through this, no matter what. Yet again, she was correct.
Almost a full year later, when that guy was found guilty, and sentenced to prison, my Mom wasn’t surprised. She’d known I’d done the right thing, and she knew I would be stronger tomorrow as a result of the battles I fought today.
When my husband broke into my home and physically assaulted me- irreplacably damaging a 10 year union that had produced two beautiful daughters, it was my mother that was immediately by my side. She came from 700 miles away to save me. Again, she didn’t have a lot of mushiness to offer, but she is responsible for the fact that I’m here and strong almost 2 years later.
She made lists for me to follow, and slowly put me back together again. I still had tough times ahead of me- hell, still do, actually- but I know I will be ok.
My mother is such a huge part of the reason for that. Had she not been there to pick me up a thousand different times and put me back together again, I certainly wouldn’t have made the progress that I have.
Later, after I filed for divorce, and couldn’t lay off the sleeping pills and booze… it was my mother I called. I told her, in tears, that it was time for me to go to rehab. I apologized for letting her down, told her I am so sorry for screwing up.
My mother told me she was proud of me. She wasn’t disappointed. Even then, in my late 20s, she was still teaching me lessons. She taught me to never be ashamed of getting help, or of doing whatever I needed to do to be healthy for myself and my baby girls.
Here’s to you, Mom.
I love you, and I am so grateful for everything you have done and continue to do for me. When I’m feeling sorry for myself, there is no one who can empower me more, and get me off my soap box faster. You taught me to love myself and everyone else- even if that isn’t the most popular- or easy thing to do. You taught me to fight my ass off during tough times- even when it seemed there was nothing left to fight with.
You fulfilled your responsibility to me- when I was child, you were my mother- not my friend. Now that I am grown, you are one of the best friends I have.
You’ll always be my Mom, no matter what, and I will never be able to thank you enough for all the gifts you have given me.
Happy Mothers’ Day to you.