Thursday, April 28, 2011

An Ode to My Mother

Based on my own memories and on what I've observed throughout my life in other families, I think it's pretty typical for teenage girls to clash with their mothers. Somewhere around age 13 or 14, mom starts to seem old fashioned. We vow we'll never be like her. We won't parent like her. We won't keep a house like her. We'll be better cooks and more successful at our career. Basically, whatever mom does, we'll do the opposite.

Somewhere along the way, we grow up and learn that mom wasn't so bad, after all.

My mom was dealt a tough hand as a young mother. At the tender age of 29, she, my dad and two younger brothers (just 2 and 3 years old) were in a horrific car accident. My dad was killed. My mother was in the hospital with severe injuries for five months.  My youngest brother was seriously injured and in the hospital for around a month and my other brother, sister and I were promptly settled in with my great uncle's family for the next six months. Even after my mom was released from the hospital, she wasn't able to care for us for another month. She moved back in, as a young widow, with her parents.

I'm sure part of my feelings for my mom as a teenager had to do a lot with my own anger about the raw wound inflicted on our family. Though I was just six when it happened, it was most definitely still an open wound when I was 14. I wasn't angry with her, just the situation. Still, as most teenagers do, I took it out on my mother.

As I grew up, things got considerably better. But, I still felt my mom was horribly old-fashioned. It wasn't until I had three children that I fully understood the scope of what she did as a parent. Raising kids is hard. The more children you have, the more challenging things are. There's a perpetual juggling act. There are mountains of laundry. There's what feels like massive quantities of food to be prepared every day. There's homework, sick kids, sports practices to shuttle kids to, permission slips and a multitude of other things to deal with every day.

I've got one less kid and one more adult to help me out in the parenting department. My mom had no one to turn to when she needed a parenting breather. There was no one to stay with the kids if she wanted to go to the grocery store by herself. No one to yell "you deal with him" to when she was frustrated with our bad behavior.

Not only that, but she had to balance a budget with little money. She was an expert couponer. She grew a large garden and canned most of the vegetables we ate all year long. She had to take care of the housekeeping, home repairs, yard work and arrange for car maintenance by herself. She sewed many of our clothes when we were young, though by the time my sister and I were in junior high, we were refusing to wear homemade clothes. She kept a regular routine for all four of us kids. I think that's pretty hard to do when you've got more than one kid, yet she managed it with four.

So, this post is for my mom. I understand and appreciate all that you did for us. I know you worked hard and I know you did your best. I love you.

1 comment:

  1. What a sweet post. It is easy to forget all that Mother's do (especially when we are teenagers).