This is a repost about my own mother, first written a few years back. It’s still apropos.
There’s a lot of posts and musings on motherhood out there right now- undoubtably due to the looming of Mother’s Day this Sunday (don’t forget, anyone!). It got me thinking about my mom, and how my perspective on her has changed over the years since I have become a mom.
Now, I’m not allowed to write anything specific about my mom, under threat of persecution, and believe me, the woman can persecute. And for all my issues with her, I do respect her request to remain anonymous. But I think I can wax and muse on her as a mother without revealing anything personal that might lead you to her door or her mailbox.
My mom isn’t perfect. But as I bumble and stumble through motherhood myself, she makes a whole lot more sense to me that she did once-upon-a-time. There were very rocky years for she and I, years where we had a hard time being in the same room. And I’m not talking about spats and disagreements, I’m talking really ugly, nasty stuff. During those tumultuous years, I was judgmental and critical of certain decisions she had made- decisions about my life, and about her life that directly and indirectly impacted me.
Looking back, (isn’t hindsight marvelous?) even those grim times garnered pearls. No matter how things sucked, communication was never closed between us. That says something about her mothering. There was never a wall of silence, and the welcome mat was never pulled. That says something about her mothering. No matter how much or what I accused her of, she never turned her back on me. We fought- we fought terribly- but looking back, that was her loving me when I was very difficult to love. That says something about her mothering. Having a mother who gives her opinion and never shuts down and doesn’t hide things from you- has turned into one of the biggest blessings of my life.
As I grow up, my perspective changes, and I see families who do hide things, who don’t talk about the uglier parts of life, who shut down and clam up, and I find myself grateful beyond measure for a mother who would never tolerate that- even when it would have been easier. And (gulp) I find myself cultivating those very qualities in myself.
There is a lot to admire in my mother. Once, I could never have seen that, but now it’s easy. When I hear her voice coming out of my mouth, as I deal with the ups and downs of having three kids under five, I laugh. As I struggle with the realities and challenges of being a good parent to hard-headed, strong willed, stubborn, prideful kids, I find myself thinking “What did mom do?” and it helps me find my footing.
My brother and I were talking the other day, and as we look back at the kids we knew whose mother’s tried to be their best friends, we see people floundering, or who lost their way, or who made strings of bad choices- and we both commented how Iron Mom really did a pretty good job. As my brother’s and I ponder our own parenting, we realize we had a really good teacher, and because of her, we have a roadmap to follow.
More than anything else, I know I can always count on her to be herself. She never changes, and she will tell you that if you give her half a chance. Aggravating? Sure, but oddly comforting, too.
Our relationship now is much happier, for the most part- maybe because I’m 1000 miles away- certainly the moderating influence of my step-father has something to do with it (Thank the Lord for the mellowness and calming influence of that man). We are friends- we talk daily and even though she still drives me nuts about some things, I don’t know what I would do without her. My children love her to pieces, and it’s been a kick seeing her mellow into “Grandma”, though she is still far from mellow. She is an awesome grandma.
My mom doesn’t read this. She is adamant about the fact that she doesn’t read it. But somehow, I suspect this one will get back to her… So, thanks mom, for being strong and reliable and consistent and for loving me even when it was difficult. Thanks for being mean when you needed to be, and for setting limits we didn’t understand. Thanks for not letting us ‘hang-out’ at the mall or anywhere else, and for checking up on us. Thanks for knowing our friends and their parents, and for making us work at home. Thanks for not letting me play with Kiki and not letting me go to Jr High dances. Thanks for grounding me when I peirced my ears the second time, and for never letting me lie- ever. Thanks for tucking us in every single night of our lives, and for saying “Mommy Loves You” each of those every-single nights. Thanks for teaching me how to me a good mom. Happy Mother’s Day.
Edit: My mom does read the blog now- and while I still have a gag-order on anything personal, she does tune in and see what I’ve got to say, and it makes me happy that she reads. We talked on the phone today already, but I miss her, and wish I could go hang out and have a lunch at Sweet Tomatoes and just shoot the breeze. Sometimes living far away is really the pits. I love you mom. Even if I didn’t get to the post office yet- I really love you. Thanks for being my mom.