My Imperfect Mother

Unlike many Mother’s Day narratives, mine will neither be glowing, nor sugar-coated.

My Mother was far from perfect….this was not her fault.

She did not play with my older sister or me.She did not teach us how to cook, nor did she watch us ride our bikes or roller-skate, or help us with our homework.

My Mother fled an abusive alcoholic husband (father to us) age 4 and 8, and raised us without any child-support and literally had a nickel at the end of the week to ride the bus to her job as a telephone operator in the 50’s. I did not know anyone else who’s Mother worked outside the home or did not have a father.

Our life was one of survival. My Mother worked as many hours as she could, days, evenings, weekends, Christmas’s, all holidays. We had no car. This meant she took the bus, trudging through snow, rain, heat, to the bus stop. I’d walk her on weekends when I wasn’t in school. Even that young, I anguished over missing her. My sister was not close to her and was absent most of the time, doing her own thing. She was not happy and later I’d find out she’d been sexually abused my our father.

Money was scarce. We often could not afford a Christmas tree, and never had the toys or clothes, our friends had. Despite the tight budget, my Mother tried valiantly to provide us with the essentials, and even sometimes a few special surprises.

Saturday nights after baths, we were treated to a small bowl of pretzels while we watched “Sea Hunt”, as a family. I remember tearfully, when the show ended having to go to bed.

Things got way better when I grew into my teen years, and my sister moved out and away. She found her own new life and my Mother and I seemed to settle into a less stressful routine, with less money constraints. I got a job to help.

Fast forward to my having my own family. My Mother finally retired, bought a car, and began to drive to see her grandchildren. Money was not an issue anymore, as she had wisely saved, and thanks to a plentiful retirement pension, was finally financially OK.

I began to see my Mother for the “Mother” she’d always wanted to be. She doted on my girls, played with them as she’d never been able to with my sister and me. She was finally able to relax and enjoy her life, as she’d always wanted to, but was never able.

She was a huge and positive influence on my daughters and helped me immensely while I pursued my career. She laughed, was finally happy, almost carefree and relished in watching the growing of my own girls.

As I write this, I still miss her every day, losing her 10 years ago, this past April. She was funny, a staunch Democrat and enjoyed a small glass of wine in her later years.

She was fanatically frugal, but these days, we’d herald her efforts as being “green.” A piece of tinfoil had a lifetime of longevity in my Mom’s home. It would be around for years. She also managed to pass on a bit of her OCD personality to my younger daughter, who fastidiously folds her dish towels just like her Granny. Yikes!

My Mother was far from perfect. I don’t know anyone’s Mother who is. Certainly, I wasn’t. My Mother taught me more than I realized until I didn’t have her around anymore.

She did not have an easy life and made a poor choice in marrying my father. She had her reasons, one of which was to escape her dominating father. Sound familiar?

Despite her shortcomings, I applaud her independence, raising 2 relatively normal daughters, who have gone on to stake out their own independence….and 2 fabulous granddaughters who hold her memory in their hearts forever.

I miss you Mom….and I love you always…

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One thought on “My Imperfect Mother

  1. This is by FAR my favorite post of yours and probably my favorite heart-felt article about a mom and daughter I’ve ever read. It’s raw and real, delicate yet honest, loving and heart-felt. This is your best piece of work yet. Beyond ispiring, Mom. Love you!

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