Saturday, May 7, 2011

For My Mom

I'm a bad daughter. It's not that I mean to be, but I am self-absorbed (I tend to live in my head)... I have always WANTED things I couldn't have (like a big brother—never seemed fair most of my friends had them and I didn't)... I was just never appreciative of what I did have.

Top that off with writer's brain, where I never see anything coming until it's on top of me, so the cards don't get mailed... and there's never any money, so flowers don't get ordered... but I was thinking Friday (scary, yes). What do I do that is straight from the heart and can be deeply personal... I write. So this is for my mom.

I'm always amazed how young she was: 19 here (I was 6 mo)

I think it's really easy, when we are young, to make assumptions and judgments about our parents.
We are sure we would do this or that a different way.
But when we become parents ourselves... or as we pass life stages... and think about our moms...

Sometimes there are moments of awe.

My mom became a mom at 18 years old.
She had finished high school, but that is pretty much all.
She married my dad...
who lived another 11 years, but never DID grow up...
so she had two kids in a lot of ways (one of them capable of drinking his entire paycheck in a weekend).

She stepped up...
supported me
cared for me...
but in retrospect, what amazes me most is I never ONCE felt like the burden, that surely a child is when you have one at 18.
I never felt ANYTHING but loved and adored.

looking for an escape, I imagine...
I was petulant, sassy, precocious (I know... shocking...)
but my intelligence was encouraged
my need to speak my mind, nurtured

I was scolded if I was unkind... or if I broke rules or laws...
At four, I had to march back in to the Nobby Inn and pay for a mint because I'd taken it without asking (or paying)... the mortification kept me from EVER stealing.
I wasn't scolded though, for not conforming... I was never pressed to 'be like' anyone (or to better anyone).
Oh, sure, there was a lot I absorbed from my peers,
but never ONCE did my mom try to compare me...
to ANYONE. I was always solidly ME, and loved for that.

This was my dad's favorite picture of 'his girls'
As I try to nurture my own daughter's fragile confidence and self-esteem, I am amazed at what my mom did, because I never questioned my own value. I never believed for a second I wasn't good enough... for ANYTHING. I was entirely sure I was. I knew and know without any doubt I can do anything I set my mind to... except perhaps instill that confidence in the people I love most.

When my dad died, I was 10, and my mom gave me another invaluable gift.
She went back to school.
The lesson that education is the route to a better life stuck.
The lesson that succeeding requires HARD WORK stuck.
The lesson it's never too late stuck. And any subject can be conquered... stuck.
The lesson that if we schedule the work time, we then actually have the play time stuck.

Before braces, but AFTER gap-consciousness
It would have been easy, when my dad died, to use his life insurance money to make ends meet while she went to college, but instead we lived frugally (on social security) and that life insurance money became my 'the college YOU want' fund. I had choices.

But we still managed a few great vacations... live lean, then splurge... we went to Disneyland, Hawaii... then on our spring break ski trip in 8th grade, she met Art. My stepdad is pretty great, because my mom's primary flaw is she takes everything too seriously, and he keeps her 'light'... makes it 'fun'.

Those lessons though... don't waste, don't use more than you need... man, I wish I was better at instilling those in my family... but I think they are good lessons, even if my skill to pass them on seems to be nil... I know I asked for a lot... but I also felt some responsibility for it... I SAW what was given up in exchange...

It was sometimes hard to have the 'hot mom' she was 31 here, I was 12
I had a partial scholarship and so maintained the GPA needed to keep it... that was my JOB... COLLEGE was my JOB...

I think there are some lessons we don't notice when we absorb them... but looking back, we see them at work. Had my mom ever threatened and said 'you know if your grades drop...' the rebel in me would have responded badly... but she'd laid the groundwork. She didn't need to say it.

The last 4-Generation Photo--3 moms here... 2004
Some of the groundwork was unintentional, I think... “you need an education because you want choices.” Oh yeah... I got my education... but I think the choice to marry a man who'd then often be dependent never crossed her mind... it wasn't her generation, an 'at home dad' hadn't been invented. But from my end, the lessons served me well. I never could have been the at-home parent... it isn't my temperament.

So mom, THANK YOU! You did an amazing job! (I mean just look at me *cough*) But seriously... trying to parent myself makes the things you did well SO much clearer. I love you!

I wish all you mom's a very happy mother's day!


Jeanne said...

I read all through this and was very touched by your tribute to your mom. It inspired me. I lost my mom when I was 21 and I think it is time to write about what she did as a mom. THanks for the inspiration.

Tracy said...

That was a beautiful tribute to your mom...just lovely!
Moms can be pretty incredible people for sure!

AllMyPosts said...

Happy Mothers day to both of you!!!

This is one nice a post and you look awesome as 6 month old!! Nice pictures!!

with warm regards
CatchyTips for Writers

Stephen Parrish said...

In the "hot mom" pic she looks a lot younger than 31. You have a gorjus mother, and she is lucky to have you as a daughter. Wonderful post, Hart.

Teresa aka JW said...

Awesome post! Happy Mother's Day to you too.

Trisha said...

That "hot mom" comment reminds me of Gilmore Girls, one of my fave shows ever :D

This was an awesome post, and happy Mother's Day to your obviously awesome mum! :)

February Grace said...

What a blessing to have a Mom like that!

Great post, Happy Mother's Day!


Al said...

Wow your Mum sounds like an amazing person and a fabulous mother!

mooderino said...

Nice. a very touching tribute.

Moody Writing

Old Kitty said...

Happy Mother's Day to you and your mum! Thanks for sharing these wonderful pics and memories of your amazing relationship with your gorgeous mother! Take care

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sounds like your mom did an awesome job - and in turn, you are doing an awesome job. And Hart precocious? Never!

erica and christy said...

You did a great job letting your mom know how you feel. And yes, the card for my mom is waiting to be mailed tomorrow *sigh*

But add another thing to the list of what we have in common. My mom married and had me young (not quite as young as yours, though - I was born when she was 20).

Cheeseboy said...

Your mom has taught you such great values. I love that she still managed to take you to DLand and Hawaii, even though it had to be hard. She sounds awesome.

Jan Morrison said...

Wonderful tribute. I like the sound of your mum...but why wouldn't I? She grewed you up purty good.
ps - I'll be back soon...just a few more goof off days.

LTM said...

sigh. You are so awesome. I love how you have all my explanations for why I forget things and/or am a "bad" daughter... :D

This is a lovely post to your mom. And look at little YOU! I'm the same way about how young they all were when they had us--my mom was only 21 when she had me... I DO have an older brother, so sorry. ;p But I always wanted a younger sister. No dice.

The lessons that "stuck" are fantastic ones. How amazing what she managed to do, and I tell you. You DO inspire confidence and you ARE teaching lessons that are sticking.

Happy Mother's Day to you!!! <3