We celebrated my mom’s 60th birthday Saturday. I started writing this post Saturday morning. It was going to be a little “present” to her. But alas, as you all know, Saturdays at my house are not conducive to the writing process, as it were. There are too many distractions, and so today will have to do. And that’s okay, as, you will understand after reading this, I have learned from my mother.
My mother is the youngest of 6 children. She was raised by some of the best people that this world has ever seen. My grandparents were poor sharecroppers for most of their young lives. They were as conservative and devout as people come. My mother spent a good portion of her youth chasing something that wasn’t there. Running away from what she thought she wanted to get away from, but as it turned out, she ran right back to it eventually. This lasted until she was nearly 30. My sister and I were both born during this time. She’ll be the first one to tell you that she made some mistakes and endured the corresponding amount of heartache because of it.
My mom dropped out of school to marry her high school sweetheart and my sister came along when she was very young. That marriage was total dysfunction and was doomed from the start. She had me after her marriage fell apart and she found herself in a situation with a man who was never meant to play a husband or a father role in her life. From what I understand, she was not surprised when he conveniently “opted out” of our lives. It was apparently the best thing that might have happened out of that situation. She went on to raise two children, mostly alone, until I was 6 years old and my sister was 11. Then she met the man who would embody all of the roles that my mother, my sister and I had lacked in our lives for all that time. But I’ve already told you about that story.
When I was little, it was never a big deal to me that I didn’t have a dad around. It was just normal. I had a mom. And she provided for us, and we worked together and made things work. Eleven years is a long time. AND, to her credit, she managed to get her GED and go on to college during that time. During her lifetime, among other things, she’s worked as an administrator at a headstart program, a lab technician at an oil refinery, a hairdresser, an insurance salesperson, a radio salesperson, a talent agent, a tupperware lady, an insurance claims adjuster, and an office manager. And she’s been good at all of those things. My mother is nothing if not a people person.
I never EVER realized what that must have been like for her until I was grown and had my children. You can say a lot about Zohrhubby, aka Zohrdumbass, but you could never say that he wasn’t a good father to our children. He has always been there for us. And it’s not until two or three nights of him working string together and you notice that I will begin to bitch and moan about having to do everything by myself that I become acutely aware of what single parents must have to endure. I don’t like it. Not one bit. And do you know that she never, not once, made me feel like I was a problem or a hindrance to her life, during that time? Even looking back, she’s never stated any regret about having her children in the situations that she was in, or at the time in her life where she was. It was her bed, and she gladly laid in it. And she taught my sister and I many things, but most of them have been learned in our adulthood, I think: Admit your mistakes. Own up to your faults. Try to fix them if you can. If you can’t, then make no apologies for the past that you had no control over. But do better. Always do better.
My mother and I have, since my teenage years, had our rough patches. But I’ve never felt like she didn’t love me. And I never felt like there were things that I did that couldn’t be fixed. She taught me that. She taught me that raising children can be hard, but that there is only so much you can do and then at some point you have to turn them over to God’s care. We are only mothers, after all. Our job is to love them, guide them, feed them, clothe them and shelter them. We cannot make their choices or shoulder their defeat. And that is enough.
My mother is and has been my best friend for a long time. She understands me and I understand her. We communicate sometimes without words.
Happy birthday mom. You are a remarkable person and a wonderful mother. Words simply cannot express how much I love you. But I hope that these words will do.