With Mother’s day coming this Sunday, a few short days away for those like myself who hadn’t realized it’s approach, I thought I’d write a little something on mothers.
For my own personal experience, my mother was hard to know and she passed when I was in my teens, one of the reasons I wasn’t close to her. She was a great friend, loyal, caring, loving, I’m sure many will attest to that. I was not fortunate enough to have a chance to know that person, to mature and possibly developed a relationship that would be more than child and care giver. Surprise, I was not the easiest child, in fact, in ways I am sure I was one of her more difficult children, but not for the reasons you might think. I was born with a birth defect and because of the initial uncertainty that I would even survive, I was not brought into the fold, sort of speak. For this I give her enormous credit, she nurtured me to the best of her abilities. Many of those years she was a single parent and more than I knew, fighting cancer.
Though my relationship with my mother wasn’t the one I’d later wish I had, she did teach me. I learned through her to be self-sufficient, to be strong, to stand up for myself and to be honest. You never raise two children alike and I will say, the slights I saw as a child, I came to realize, that she actually did me a favor. You know, those times when she give one child something, but not the next. Her time was limited and she knew she’d die before I had fully grown, she prepared me for her absence. I remember growing up knowing, if I wanted something, I’d have to earn it myself, buy it myself, learn for myself.
But there is more to being a mother than giving birth to a person. As I stated, I never got to know my mother as an adult, which is why I have other woman who I will always honor on this day.
One of the first woman who really made a difference in my life was Mrs. Harris. She is one of my best friend’s mothers. Most of us in our little group knew that if you had a problem, you could go talk to Mrs. Harris. When my mother died, she was there for me in so many ways. It was Mrs. Harris who helped me plan my wedding and Mrs. Harris who I still send a mother’s day card to every year. There are so many little things throughout my teenage and early adult years that I can say, if it weren’t for Mrs. Harris I’m not sure where I would be today.
Mrs. Harris taught me to listen, she taught me to hug, she taught me to accept a physical touch that I lacked in my own home. Another I learned at her apron, was tolerance for people’s differences, and that we all matter.
The second woman I give credit to is my husband’s aunt, titi Iris or as everyone calls her simply Titi. This woman has energy in spades. Loving. Outgoing. Willing to kick you in the ass if she thinks you need it. Willing to clean up your sick when you drink too much and it ends up on the stairs instead of in the toilet. Titi mothered more than just her own children, she mothered the neighborhood and those children that followed hers home. She also helped me learn to be a mother. When my first son was born, she was there to offer advice and hold him while I had a few minutes alone. Though she lost a son in an auto accident, she is still there for the rest of us. Still offering a hug, a drink, a HUGE plate of food. She is also the one my husband compares all cooking too.
Titi’s gifts are in giving, of herself, her time, her money, her love and to ask for help is not a bad thing. I grew up fending for myself and never asking for help, from her I learned it was okay to not only need, ask, and accept that help. And there’s always enough if someone is in need, we’ll worry about how to pay for it later.
A few short weeks after my husband was born, his mother lost her life. Years later, his father married a wonderful woman who helped him raise my husband, her three children and their twin boys. My mother-in-law is a hard worker. Maybe that’s an odd thing to say about someone when we’re talking about being a mother, but when I think of mom, I think of what a hard worker she is. For most of the years I’ve been married to my husband, mom has worked long and hard and often missed out on visiting us because she was working. She’s got a great smile, warm heart, and has recently rekindled a love for art by taking up painting. She’s got mad talent. I will say that during the initial years of my marriage, mom wasn’t around much, we live on different ends of the country, but in the last ten or so, she’s become a friend. Gotta love the Internet which has allowed usto connect often on a daily basis. The only vacation I’ve had alone since my children were born was when mom took me to Vegas. We’ve learned to love one another and we’ve learned to respect one another for our own qualities. Not to say Mom hasn’t taught me anything, but mostly she’s shown me that one can over come adversity to conquer the world.
What I’ve learned over the years I’ve been a mother, is it’s not only your children that you influence. I have three biological children whom I love and am so proud of, but I also have a slew of those whom I think of as my children. Like Mrs. Harris and Titi, I have reached out to those who I did not birth and tried to be there for each and every one of them.
In composing this blog, I got to thinking about my writing and the characters I have crafted. Most of the characters I have created, or better, who have revealed themselves to me, have very sketchy mother figures. One has a mother who was a valiant warrior but died young, difficult to please with extremely high expectations. Another has a mother who suffers from a mental illness. For most of my characters, either mom is non-existent or unlovable. Funny thing though, my characters often have friends who have great mother’s and treat them as their own. I think this is reflective of my own life. Maybe I’ll work on that.
Here’s to all the mom’s, mother’s and mommy’s, thank you. Thank you Mrs. Harris, Titi, and Mom.
And remember, sometimes it’s not your own children whom you touch the most.