Sunday, May 14, 2017

Dear Mom...

Dear Mom,

Here we are, 50 Mother’s Days later. Yes, your baby is 50 - one year older than your own mom was when she died. I have infrequently heard you talk about your mom, though maybe it’s because you live in the present while I am often in the past or fearing the future.

 Regret for things we cannot change during a life we can, is senseless. So here we go…

 I don’t know how you celebrated Mother’s Day when you were growing up, but when I was growing up, it was no big deal. You always used to say that our dad was not your dad so it wasn’t his job to make it a celebration. 

Each year you accepted what your four children gave you, but I don’t think it was ever much. You have never been a “bring on the fanfare” type of mom. Most years you seemed to just want to be left alone. Most years when my children were young, I think I wanted that too.

Now that my boys are grown and your children are grown, times two, it seems like all we want is for our children to spend time with us.

One year into a new home in a new city I remember the many times our own family moved while I was growing up – so many houses and schools and boxes to be packed and unpacked again. I never heard you give voice to your fears or regrets, if you had them. 

You portrayed a sense of adventure in every move to every new place we called home, even when those homes included kitchens without a place to sit down and saloon-style shutters, to bathrooms with red velvet wallpaper. Truly every home we lived in was a wonderful adventure because of whatever unfinished and poorly- decorated shape it was in.

When we moved the last time, your children were 15, 13, 12, and I was 10.

Until I turned 10 you were, to my knowledge, a “stay-at-home” mom; at that time, most moms were. I was no wiser as to whether you were or were not home before I was 10 since mostly we were all independent kids and you raised us that way on purpose. A child does not know what his or her mom does all day because children are selfish beings and they do not think about nor care that a parent must make money, plan, create, cook, do laundry, carry out rules and all the hundreds of other minutiae of days spent with one, two, four or 10 children. This is the way it should be when you are a child.

There have been many, many years that I have thought, during my growing up years, that if I don't remember you fawning over me or talking to me or cooking me meals or shopping for clothes with me or driving me to and fro or hither and nigh, or if you were not interceding on behalf of disputes I had with teachers over grades or wondering why this or that or the other thing, that somehow it was not enough, even though there was plenty.

There have been many, many years that I have thought, during my growing up years, that I should have had something different and that my years of depression as an adult were in direct proportion to unhappiness during childhood, even if the greater part of my childhood was filled with happiness.

Seventeen years ago, we watched in utter despair as dad died. As your 33-year-old child, I watched you closely and you suffered. But you did not give up when you become a single parent to four grown children and a single grandparent to ultimately nine grandchildren - I didn’t expect that you would. Your husband died, you broke your leg, you sold the house that together, you and dad loved. And then you went on and brought each grandchild on multiple vacations, you brought each of your kids on vacations and still, 50 years in, you are a present and active mom to me.

Some people talk and talk and talk about their difficulties, while enduring, and some people are quieter in their endurance. We are miraculously created, born to be molded, and shaped by every tiny experience. And if I poured out every experience from my life over 18, 32 or 50 years, I would have more happy than sad and more good than bad.

When I have called, you have come, when I have pushed you away, you have stayed back just enough.

I hope when I grow up, I can be like you. That if I should suffer even half of the adversity or double the adversity as you, that I can still keep moving and quietly endure, or be so loved by my adult children, as you are, that I can talk and talk when needed.

 And I hope that for the ways in which I have not been the best mom to my own boys that they would forget those parts much earlier than I have forgotten them, or at least not form the whole of their lives on the memories that I want them to forget because I was not the best me I could have been when they were young.

Most of all, I want to thank you now, on this Mother’s Day, so that I don’t live another moment with regret for what wasn’t, and will never be, or with fear that I will wait too long to say the words I have been unable to say until now.