It’s Mother’s Day, but Hallmark doesn’t make a card for the children who don’t have June Cleaver for a mother. I am one of them.
I remember growing up both confused and awed by the close relationship some of my friends held with their moms. At the time, I couldn’t appreciate how my mom endured sickness, injury, tantrums, and the selfish, ungrateful energy from her four children. She packed picnics, wiped snot, threw parties, swabbed skinned knees, offered encouragement, and restricted empty calories often without a thank you from anyone. I took without giving back. I pushed, tested, and undermined, as my mom struggled.
It’s never too late to say thank you. My mother was far from perfect, but she gave me a gift of immeasurable value. She shared with me a blueprint of life’s pitfalls:
Do not let alcohol take over your life.
Do not use others as an excuse.
Do not say one thing and do another.
Do not double down and dig in when you know you are in the wrong.
Do not focus on the negative.
I spent my early years being afraid of my alcoholic mother while simultaneously mirroring her. Like a crystal ball, her mistakes showed me my future life. Eventually, I paid attention and quit drinking. I learned to take responsibility, tell the truth, and apologize sincerely. Most importantly, I learned to be grateful. I learned to focus on the good, and find the silver lining during hard times.
Now I practice how to embrace love rather than be swallowed by fear.
As an adult, I witness children challenging their parents, and I understand how my mother’s insecurities plagued her, how her children and husband undermined her, and how her negative mindset fed the depression that pushed her further into darkness, away from the perfect person she so longed to be.
My mother died seven years ago, and I am grateful that in death she found peace.