The legacy of a great mom...
I think I might be biased when I say I have the greatest mom in the world. I mean, she is MY mom. So of course I would think that, right?
But the truth is, I really do.
I was not the easiest little girl to parent. I have had a wild imagination most of my life. I grew up a tomboy who idolized her older brother. In some ways, I still do. He remains the most hilarious person I ever met, and knows me better than most people could ever hope to. Stick us in a room together with nothing to do, and we will be in hysterics about something in a few minutes, and it’s likely no one else will know what we are laughing at. Last weekend we walked for several hours together around a track for a cancer benefit…both of us with ear buds in our ears connected to iPods. We could not hear what one another said. But we would hit one another in the arm, and point at something, and both fall into ridiculous laughter. We probably looked ridiculous. That is just us.
We are good people, my brother and I. Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but there has never been a time that I asked my brother for a favor (let my dog out, babysit my son, help me move for the umpteenth time, carry this ginormous prehistoric tv up into my apartment) that he said no. He has a huge heart. He works harder (often with two or three jobs at a time) than anyone I ever met. But I look at my brother, and I see my parents. It’s because of them that we are the way we are, and that we are as close as we are. It’s a direct reflection of a job well done despite odds, despite troubles. Since I still have a month or so until Father’s Day, I am going to focus this one for the time being on my amazing mom.
My mom has the patience of a saint, with class and intelligence to match it. She always has. She has a gentle demeanor, a kind way of speaking to everyone she doesn’t know, and always told me “A stranger is a friend you don’t know yet”. It’s really hard to not like my mom. I have often said that when people meet my mom, if they don’t like her, there is something wrong with them. She is generous, she is kind, and she is fair. She is everything anyone could ever hope for in a mom.
My mom was raised a Navy brat. She has lived all over the place. Maybe that is why the idea of home is so important to her. She met my father in college where they were both studying to be teachers, and they were married in 1972. In 1976 my brother bounced into the world. Two years and change later, so did I. I was informed I was a “surprise”. My dad worked during the day in my young childhood, while my mom worked nights. We took vacations. We had big family holidays. We were not well off by any means, but we did the best we could with what we had, and my mom nurtured us through every step of the way. She loved to correct my grammar as a kid. She still loved the idea of teaching, and worked as a sub in my school district when I was little. On class trips, my mom would often come along as a chaperone, and the other kids loved her.
Things were not always easy. I was diagnosed with clinical depression at 15 and my life was a rollercoaster for several years afterwards. My mom didn’t always know what to do with me, but she never gave up on me. That is something I will never forget, and always admire in my mom. I am sure I completely bewildered her at times, but she stuck with me through it all. She would make sure that we went out to lunch on a regular basis to stay in touch with me as best she could. She would let me talk about my life, my mind, and whatever else came out of my mouth. We would go grocery shopping in the middle of the night when I had insomnia. We would take drives to New Hope, Peddler’s Village, Clinton, or nowhere at all on sunny weekends. She never, ever let me fall. My mom was always there. Even if she didn’t know what to say or what to do…she made sure I knew she was there anyway, and that we would figure it out.
I grew up. It was hard. I would not choose to do any of it again. But I had the strength and wisdom of my mom. I called her crying. I called her laughing. I called her when I didn’t know what the hell else to do. She was always there. Even if she didn’t know what to say, she listened.
When I found out I was pregnant, I worried that I might not be a good mom. That I might not have what it took to be a mom like my mom. Maybe I was too impatient. Maybe I was too loud. Maybe I was too scared. Maybe I would never figure out how to fold that fitted sheet. (no matter how many times my mom showed me). Maybe I didn’t have that mom-gene. Maybe I was terrified of not having enough love to give.
Of course, when my son came, that all changed. The first few months were hard, as they are for everyone as you figure out just what in the hell you are supposed to be doing with this tiny being who looks like you, but who’s only form of communication is crying. But I had the greatest teacher there ever was. I had my mom. I called her a lot. A LOT.
I still do. My son is seven years old. And he is amazing. Intelligent, thoughtful, empathetic, wise way beyond his years. He is an old soul. He knows love. He knows respect. He has better manners than most adults I know. He is hilarious and witty. Most of my life, I looked in the mirror and wondered what in the world I was here for. What is my purpose? I am no great career woman. I don’t create anything. When I look at my son, I know that he is what I am here for. My son is not courteous because he is asked to be. He is that way because he doesn’t know any other way to be. That is how I was raised. That is my mom.
When I see him let the girls on the bus first, or hold the door open for me (which he does every day), say thank you without being prompted, I know that I am doing something right.
And I know that I learned from the best.