This post is dedicated to someone I have loved and admired since the day I was born…my mom. Mom has a birthday today and she’s impossible to buy for so I’m taking a lesson from an old teacher of mine and giving from the heart.
I would say my mom and I have a pretty decent relationship. We see each other about once a week (sometimes less, sometimes more). We catch up via phone calls and Facebook on a regular basis. I’ve grown to genuinely love and respect my mom in a way that only comes with age and experience. It hasn’t always been so. As women we all know what happens between teenage daughters and their mothers. Puberty is a bitch for all involved and I was no exception. Let’s start from the beginning…
I was my parent’s first child. They had been married almost two years when I was born. Two and a half years later, my sister was born. My parents decided two girls was enough (could they see into the future?!) My mom stayed home with the two of us until Sis was in school full time. She watched other people’s children so we could have that luxury. When my mom first went back to work, she worked three day weeks so as to still have time with Sis & I. Now, you must understand that my mother was always the breadwinner in my family. I’d honestly say that gender roles were reversed in my household while I was growing up. Mom worked for the money and dad worked a job he loved but didn’t pay great. Dad prepared breakfast in the morning, got our lunches together and cooked dinner at night. Mom worked late or brought work home & travelled occasionally for business. When my curly, rats nest of hair needed to be brushed out, dad did it. When we couldn’t get earrings in because holes were almost closed over, dad did it. I never found any of this odd until I was old enough to talk to friends or have them come over and they would comment. Now this is where I tell you it had nothing to do with how much we were loved (mom couldn’t do the hair brushing or the earring pushing because she didn’t want to hurt us – not because she didn’t care).
My mother loved us so much that she worked hard to keep a roof over our head, food on the table & clothes in our closet. We never went without. This means luxuries too. We took extravagant family vacations (I went to the Calgary Stampede when I was 8, Florida twice, many trips to visit family in Nova Scotia and a cruise to the Bahamas when I was in 8th grade). I participated in girl scouts and cheerleading – both with plenty of expenses. We ate out every Friday night. I was most definitely raised in an upper middle class home. I had a great childhood. I mean how many people my age can say they had everything they needed and were loved unconditionally by two parents who were also (and still are!) in love with each other?!
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about having children of my own (trust me, there IS a post coming about this) and I think back to all my parents endured to nurture me to adulthood and beyond. I’ve particularly thought about the sacrifices my mother has made. I realize now, almost 30 years later, how little credit she’s been given for all that she’s done. I’d like to change that today to honor her.
I like to think that I was always a good kid. I was well behaved, well mannered and a good student. I made friends easily and I loved my parents more than words can say. As I grew closer to puberty, so did my bitchy streak. I became fiercely independent which at times had to be hard on my mom. I see it even today that it can be hurtful when I set out on a path that she doesn’t feel is right yet I insist I must follow my heart and make my own mistakes. While going away to college did help our relationship tremendously, we still had our issues. She was NOT a fan of my ex husband – and that’s saying it nicely. She always liked him when we were friends but when we began dating, she was dead set against it. She felt I was with someone who was not my equal – who couldn’t pull their weight emotionally or financially. She made no bones about this – it was very apparent, even to the Ex. I was angry at her for this for a long time. My dad accepted my choice because I was happy – wasn’t that enough? Not for mom. While those 9 years I spent with the Ex were painful, who was there to pick me up when it ended? Who came when I called her to help me pack my stuff and move out (actually all I could do was lay in bed and ask why he didn’t love me anymore)?Mom did. She held me and listened to me. She also helped me seek professional help for the depression I had entered.
Mom sold shares of stock from a company she worked at for almost 30 years to pay for a jaw surgery insurance wouldn’t cover. She sat by my side in pre op and we laughed the way only we can (its what we do when we’re nervous). She walked me around the hospital before my surgery because it had been postponed for over six hours. When I awoke I found all the cute things I had liked in the gift shop that she had bought for me as get well gifts. She took time off of work to take care of me. Bathe me, feed me through a syringe, give me medicine. This was all after three rounds of braces and other orthodontic treatments that I know were not cheap.
Mom left a job she’d had since she graduated high school because it would interfere with Sis and I. Her company decided to downsize and move about three hours away. They offered her a position but I was away at college, it was Sis’s last year in high school and she couldn’t justify moving her to a new school at such an important time in Sis’s life. She’s since had several other jobs where her knowledge has been used up and she has been tossed aside in favor of younger applicants who were willing to work for less money. She now stays home and takes care of my nephew JD. She did the same for BMan until he was at an age where daycare was a better option for socialization reasons.
She offered me her pancreas. When my diagnosis came, mom was devastated. There couldn’t be something so terribly wrong with her daughter! She had to fix it. I explained that she needed her pancreas and we could supplement mine with insulin. I honestly think mom had a harder time with my diagnosis than I did. I came to understand that when Sis was pregnant with BMan and they were testing him & her for diabetes. I realized that mom somehow felt responsible for me and my illness. She’s not, she knows that, but when something is wrong with your kid, you just wanna make it better. Since then, she’s learned about diabetes. She’s interested when I talk about new developments. She listens when I’m sick. She helps me when I’m low and can’t help myself. She’s learning every day much like me, but I don’t think her love for me will ever let her accept that this is real or that its forever.
My mom has let me move back home. Three times! I moved back in while going through my divorce, again when my first post-divorce relationship ended and again (and I swear for the last time!) when my company relocated. She let me live for free. She made sure my laundry was done and I was fed. I couldn’t ask for more cooperation or understanding and I think that the time I spent living there repaired a lot of the damage done to our relationship due to puberty & the Ex.
I can’t believe it took 30 years to realize how much my mother has done for me and given up so that I could prosper. I’ve always admired my mom and I know I’m a lot like her in many ways – and although I always swore I would never become my mother, we all know its inevitable. And hey, there are worse people I could grow up to be like 🙂 Happy birthday mom – I love you! XO