Working to prepare My Dear One for publication has had me thinking about my mother a lot, lately. About the sacrifices she made for my brother and I when we were young. How hard she worked to keep my brother and I in our childhood home, clothed and fed, after my dad left. How bloody hard she worked to make a business that started as a lark, into one of the largest and most successfully Traffic Control companies lower-mainland BC had seen up to the time she sold it. How often she was criticized and condemned for not doing what others thought she should with regard to the business. For how little praise and respect she was offered by some—myself included—for the nights, weekends, days, months, and years she carried the enormous burden of raising two teenagers alone, while solely responsible for keeping almost a hundred women and men employed and working. How she truly is an amazing person.
My mom forgets that sometimes I think. How amazing she is. Now retired and living on a small pension, she spends most of her days home, alone, reading, or watching baseball on TV, a pattern interrupted most often my aunt who routinely picks Mom up and takes her out. A doctor’s appointment, afternoon matinee, visit with another family member—excursion to visit Hubs and I when we’re out camping. The where doesn’t matter, so much as the what. And the what, is time together. My aunt and Mom spend a lot of time together. Something I’m not guilty of enough.
I don’t visit my mom as often as I would like. Since Christmas, I’ve seen her once—at a campground, two hours from our homes, and only because my aunt trundled her into the car and drove her there. The times between that visit and Christmas we tried to connect were kyboshed by illness, hers, mine, or my husband’s. Flu season and socializing don’t mix well. Today, we’re finally connecting. In person. Not just by phone. And I’m truly looking forward to it, as I won’t be in town to spend Mother’s Day with her. My only regret is I won’t have a physical copy of My Dear One to give her, as I’m waiting for the proof to arrive to ensure the cover and contents meet my desire for professional quality, before I release it for public consumption. Not that she’ll mind. She’s a mom. She’s my mom. And she loves me.
That is the one thing I can honestly say, looking back over my life, is the one thing she always did: love me. And my brother. Even when she didn’t love herself.
All the crazy shouting, and month-long groundings, when I came home late, or she caught me in a lie? The early curfew? Refusal to accept that I would smoke cigarettes, or pot, ever? Because she loved me.
I misinterpreted her behavior when it suited me, back in my rebellious teenage years, when I could snark to my friends about what a Bitch my mother was ’cause she wouldn’t let me do such-and-such, or go somewhere, with someone. She was just mean. Controlling. Didn’t understand. Didn’t care. How wrong I was.
Having children of my own made me revisit those years, her rules and expectations. And I discovered in them the steel core of truth: she lost her shit sometimes because she cared. Because she wanted to keep me and my brother safe. Because she was overwhelmed with the responsibility of managing a business and two experimenting teenagers on her own. Because she was barely keeping things together, for us. Because if it had been only her, she’d have sold that shit and gone off and done whatever it was with her life she’d not done up to then, because she had others who depended on her to live according to their needs, not hers.
That’s what many mothers do. And some fathers. They do what’s needed, what’s best for their spouse, or children, often at cost to them. And frequently dodge flack for it.
So, today, for our early Mother’s Day visit, I’m going to remind my mom how much she means to me. How much I appreciate the sacrifices she made for my brother and I when we were young. How much I value her continued contributions to my life now, even if it is just to pick up the phone when I call, and listen. Or to call me, and ask how I’m doing?
I don’t need to see my mom every day. Or even every week. But I do need to stay in frequent contact with her. To show her I love her. And let her know, that as long as I’m living, my treasured Mother she’ll be.
My mother said to me, “If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general, if you become a monk you’ll end up as the pope.” Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso. ~Pablo Picasso