Inside: This year for Mother’s Day, I’m sharing some things I want my mom to know.
If you have an idyllic childhood (does anyone???) growing up with perfect parents, you may have a hard time understanding how anyone could have issues with the way they were raised. But many people grow up with issues and resentments toward their parents for a variety of reasons. And sometimes, people actually breathe a huge sigh of relief when they walk out the door of their parents’ home as a free adult ready to live their own life.
These feelings of resentment and the marks of childhood scars on our psyche often come with internal promises that we will NEVER raise our children “that way”. We’ll never let our kids down or make them feel unloved in any way. We will always be fair with our punishments and that’s only if we really have to punish our kids. But we probably won’t because we will do such an amazing job of raising them that they’ll never have any reason to misbehave. Most of all, we’ll marry the RIGHT person so that we don’t end up divorced and on our own – overworked and lonely and taking it out on our kids.
Oh, the promises we make.
And while those are good promises, they are often so tough to follow through. After all – life happens. Divorces and break-ups happen. Sometimes the people that we love let us down. There are times that we work hard and get little thanks. Occasionally, we are just tired and cranky. And sometimes, our little angels act like the devil’s spawn, even if they really don’t mean to.
There are many things in life that you only understand after experiencing them yourself, and parenthood is one of them. That’s why, this year, there are some things I want my mom to know for Mother’s Day.
Speaking From the Heart – Eight Things I Want My Mom to Know
I Know You Did Your Best
I think that this was one of the biggest things I want my mom to know. Because for so much of my childhood, I couldn’t understand why she didn’t try harder. I wanted her to try harder to be nice, to be fair, to be patient, and to try harder to “act like other parents.”
But since walking my own journey through parenthood, I’ve come to realize that you did do your best, just as I did. None of us just walk blissfully along thinking, “screw it, I’m just gonna phone it in on this whole parenthood gig.” We DO try to be nice and patient and fair. But life has a way of messing with us, making us cranky and impatient or draining us until we don’t have much left to give to the little people who need us the most.
And those “other parents” sometimes have things going for them that kids just can’t see. Maybe they can do more because they have more money – and more leisure time.
But for most of my young life, my mom was a single parent. And even when she was married for a few years to my step-dad, she continued to work. She always worked and she worked hard as a nurse, taking care of patients each and every day. She often worked nights, which made it hard for her to get enough sleep. So when she was home, I can imagine how tired and drained she may have felt. And how hard it might have been for her to be patient with my chattering and tendency to be overly sensitive. (I still have this tendency.) Bottom line, Mom, I know you did your best.
I Know How Hard You Worked
I know I mentioned this in the section above. But it is worth mentioning again. I know how hard you worked. You pulled many hours as a nurse. When you were home, you had things to do around the house. I had my chores, but there was still plenty left for you to do. And when you became a single parent of three, I remember you not only working as a full-time R.N. but finding part time jobs waiting tables, too. That was a lot to put yourself through, especially when we lived 40 minutes or so away from your job and you were always short on sleep. I’m sure some of those drives were really scary.
I’ve known a lot of single moms with two and three jobs. When my son was small, there were times that I had two jobs, too. Sometimes dads walk out on their kids. And many moms receive no child support. I didn’t. My mom didn’t. Hard work is commendable but also leads to tired and cranky parents. And this can be difficult for small children to understand.
I Know You Had Other Dreams
I know you didn’t dream of being a single parent. You enjoyed traveling, riding a motorcycle, horseback riding, and so many more adventurous things. You were tough and strong and even as a mom, you were always the most badass person in the room. I had such a gentle nature that I often found your strength and “coolness” to be disturbing and scary. The parties scared me, too. I didn’t like the people you hung out with. And yes, some of those people probably shouldn’t have been around me. Just saying.
But I also admired you. I thought you were beautiful and fierce and amazing. I can only imagine the person you might have been – and the things you may have done – if you didn’t end up raising three kids mostly on your own. Sometimes it seems really unfair that we only get to live one life at a time.
I Know It Wasn’t Easy
When I was growing up, I really didn’t understand this. You just kind of did what needed to be done and didn’t say much about it. So, I really didn’t realize how tough it may have been on you at times.
But when I ended up alone as a parent, the difficulty really hit home. At times, it threatened to overtake me. The heartbreak I felt over my son’s father lasted for years. It undermined so many other things in my life, including my own sense of worth. I did my best to keep moving forward and to keep trying. But I made so many mistakes along the way, too, when I trusted the wrong people and found myself (and my son) hurt again and again.
Eventually, things got easier and more stable in my life. And they got more stable in yours, too. But those times were hard for us both – and hard for the small ones (including the small me) along the way.
I Know How Easy it Is to Screw Up
Oh man, it is so easy to screw up and you just don’t realize how easy until you have small kids of your own. One impatient outburst can feel like the end of the world to our little ones. We’re just having a cranky moment – an adult temper tantrum. But to them, the person they adore most of all suddenly behaved like a scary stranger. And while we forget it and move on . . . it takes a lot longer for our kids sometimes. And some of those memories never go away.
I know Childhood Memories Are Acute – And Not Always Accurate
Yes, childhood memories run deep. But those memories are also limited by our viewpoint – and our level of maturity at the time. Therefore, it pays to look closely at them, rather than just blindly believing them.
I know that I remember, vividly, times when I got in trouble for something. The fear marked me deeply. But for my mom, there was so much more going on, she remembers few of those situations.
And then one day our children tell us, with tears in their voice, about the day that we somehow broke their hearts. And we either don’t remember it at all, or we remember it differently. Life is like that.
I still honor my childhood memories and the girl I was. But I also realize that she might have sometimes seen a “tree” when there was really an elephant in front of her.
Because of You, I Learned Strength and Independence
One of the things I want I want my mom to know – because it is so important – is that she is the reason I am so strong and independent. First off, she was always both of those things – so I saw it modeled every day of my life. But also, because she wasn’t the most nurturing of parents and worked so much, I learned how to take care of myself early on. I learned to stay home alone for longer periods of time than many of my friends. And I knew how to pay attention to my surroundings and keep myself safe. I learned to cook things like eggs at a pretty young age. (Not like the kids on Masterchef Junior, though!) And I learned how to be comfortable when I was all alone. I know that those things have served me well at times.
I Forgive You
Of all the things I want my mom to know for Mother’s Day, I want her to know that I forgive her for anything and everything. Whatever resentments I had toward the person she once was, I release. She is no longer that person. Nor am I. I’m also not the same person now that I was when my kids were small. And one thing that I have learned all too well is how absolutely mentally and emotionally exhausting it is when you know that someone resents you for things you are powerless to change.
The past is over. And thankfully, we still have time in the present to love each other. I’d much rather focus on love.
So, I forgive all. And I only hope that someday, my own kids will forgive me, too.
And of all the things I want my mom to know this Mother’s Day, the most important one is simply this. “I love you!” Thank you for being my mom!