To my mom

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The theme for this month’s MamaBlogga Group Writing Project is “Thanks, Mom”. I thought for a while about what to write for this one – my relationship with my mom has been somewhat complex. But here goes.

The thing that I’m most thankful to my mom for, is – being my mom. When my mom was my age – 36 – she got married. She had always wanted a husband and a family of her own, but never met the ‘right’ guy. Not that my dad turned out to be the ‘right guy’ either, but that’s another story. My mom lived at home, taking care of her dad and her younger brother. She was an elementary school teacher with a Master’s degree and had her own, independent life and money. She spent every summer traveling – Europe, Alaska, Hawaii, my mom’s been all over the world.

Two things happened right before my mom turned 36. First, her younger brother got married and began his own life and family, leaving my mom as the only unmarried one out of her 3 siblings. Also, her dad had a series of strokes and eventually passed away. I think this was probably the hardest time of her life – finding herself on her own. My dad was at the ‘right place at the right time’ and she married him.

My mom gave up a lot when she married my dad and then had me just over a year later. She gave up her independence, her job, her house, her money, her comfort zone. She also put up with a lot – becoming a stepmom to my dad’s grown children, one of whom lived with them for the first couple of years after she married my dad. She moved across town to an area where she knew nothing and nobody. She gave up her job to stay home with my brother and I. She put her retirement money and the money she inherited from her dad into the down payment on our house. She put up with my dad, who never really grew up or knew how to support a family. Most of these things she never gained back. When my brother and I were older and she tried to get teaching jobs, they were no longer there. But all of this was more than outweighed by the joy she found in being a mom.

My mom has always loved being a mom. She threw herself in to everything mom-related when we were growing up. She volunteered at our schools, was a girl scout and cub scout leader, helped us with homework and school projects, sewed/made years worth of Halloween costumes, and shuttled us to the many various activities she encouraged us to get involved in. And I never heard her complain, even once. She has ‘lent’ us money that she knew would never be repaid, let my brother drive her car to school every day in high school (leaving her stuck at home while he was gone), taken care of our pets when we no longer lived at home or could care for them, scrimped and saved to give us everything (within reason, of course!) that we wanted and that she felt we deserved.

My mom will turn 74 years old next month. She lives alone, in a tiny house that needs a lot of work, back on her side of town near my aunt and cousin. She lives on a fixed-income, with only her Social Security check to support her. Every month or two she takes the bus across the state and stays with us for a weekend to spend time with her only grandchildren. She takes all 5 of us out to dinner every time she visits. She still ‘lends’ us money when we get into tight spots and takes the time to buy my kids things for their birthdays and Christmas that she knows they will play with and treasure. She still gives my brother and I more money than she can afford to spend on ourselves for our birthdays and Christmas.

She has friends in her neighborhood, cats to snuggle on her lap, her sister and niece nearby and now my brother since he moved back to Michigan from San Francisco last year. And she has my daughters, who love their ‘white-haired Grandma’ because she spends every waking moment she is here visiting playing with them, pushing them on swings, reading to them, and spending the kind of time with them that I wish I could every day.

Thanks, mom. For everything.