But Still.

Yeah, I know. You have your reasons. But still, she’s your Mom. The fact you are reading this says two things about her: she gave you life (she didn’t have to, you know), and she made sure you learned to read. That’s two things you should love and respect her for.

But she screwed up! I know. Every mother makes mistakes. There were times she yelled at you, perhaps unfairly. Days she didn’t listen to your side of the story, and days she didn’t listen at all, about anything. She lost her temper too easily, and sometimes, she said things in anger that really hurt. Yeah. But still.

She also sat up with you nights on end, your high pitched infant screaming making her wonder why she ever thought parenting was something she wanted to do. But she did it. She didn’t abandon you in a ditch or give you away. She was tired and frustrated, but she held you tight and walked the floors, rocking back and forth, back and forth, jiggling your tiny body up and down, over and over. Her arms were heavy, and they ached with a burn that only intensified over the hours. Her legs felt wobbly from sheer exhaustion, but she continued this ritual night after night, your head on her shoulder and her cheek pressed against the damp curls of your sweaty baby head. She did it because you belonged to her, and because she loved you more than she loved herself.

But, yeah. There were also bad days. Like that one time, when she forgot to pick you up after school and you had to wait forever before she remembered! That was totally embarrassing.  Or like, when she couldn’t afford to get you new shoes or that one special dress, and you had to make do with old, out of style crap. I know! I totally feel you. Or remember when she wouldn’t let you date that one guy? Even though you really, really, like really liked him? That was totally unfair. There was a time or two she actually slapped you across your face in the heat of the moment. But still.

Hey, though….do you remember when your Mom went on those really weird diets? You know…when she was only drinking water and eating nothing but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? God, she was so freaking strange like that. Do you recall the part where her diets coincided with all your Big Days….like when sports registration and uniform fees were due, or just before the big dance when you really needed (okay, wanted) that one specific dress with the matching shoes? Think about that, friend. Do you seriously think she enjoyed the taste of creamed peanuts and congealed grapes that much….or was there, just maybe, another reason? She did it because you belonged to her, and because she loved you more than she loved herself.

Or what about that time when she stayed up all night — her stomach tied in knots so tight she could hardly stand to walk —  when you took off on a date with that guy you weren’t supposed to be out with, and “forgot” to call and let her know where you were? Oh, wait, that’s right. You never knew what she went through that night…..the frantic calls she made to every one of your friends parents, the hours she spent driving around in the dark, looking for you.  You didn’t see her sitting next to the phone, her back unnaturally straight, clutching a box of Kleenex and waiting for the police to call with devastating news. She never told you how afraid she was. She just flew off the handle when you finally showed up at 4 a.m., screaming like some hysterical maniac. Geez. Mothers!

You didn’t see the crack in her heart that began the first time you said you hated her.

Even so, there were days when she seriously messed up. Times when you really needed her, and for whatever reason, she wasn’t there. Times when your relationship was so strained, you thought life might be easier if you just cut her out of your life. Times when she may have even deserved it. But still.

She is still the woman who held your hair back when you woke up in the middle of the night puking. Still the one who held your bike seat steady that first time you took off with no training wheels, stomach lurching with fear that you might get hurt, eyes filling with tears when you succeeded. Still the mom who held you and cried with you over that first real heartbreak, and the one who got into a screaming match with the principal at your high school when you weren’t treated right. She’s the woman who sacrificed so many things she would have liked to have done, just so she could be there when you hit that home run( or totally struck out), or uttered a whole three words in the school play, or performed a terribly out of tune song at the Talent Show. Or maybe she wasn’t there….maybe she wanted to be there more than anything else in the world, but had to work to keep a roof over your head and food in your belly and she cried in the bathroom on her break time because she couldn’t be there to watch you shine. She did it because you belonged to her, and because she loved you more than she loved herself.

And maybe her name is Mom, or Mama. Or maybe her name is Grandma or Memaw or Nana. Maybe her name is Auntie, or Sister. Maybe you have a birth mom and an adoptive mom, or a foster mom, or all three. It doesn’t really matter how she came to be your Mom…..she is the one you know– without a doubt –you can turn to when everything else in the world goes to pot, and she will be there, fiercely protective and full of support.

Maybe she completely failed at some aspects of parenting. Maybe she just didn’t have the necessary tools to succeed in every area, all the time.

Maybe you’ve turned out to be a strong, independent adult because of her mistakes, or in spite of them.

There has to be something she succeeded at….something she did that stands out in your mind as helping to shape you into the fantastic person you are today.

When you remember that something, you should thank her for it. Not everyone has that opportunity, and if you are lucky enough to still have your Mom around….well, remember it’s a privilege, not a right. Say what you need to say, while you have the chance to say it. There are few things more painful than the regret of words left unsaid.

I know, I know. You have your reasons. But still. She’s your Mom.

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2 responses to “But Still.

  1. Great post just in time for Mother’s Day. It really helps me focus on what kind of mother I want to be for my son, rather than what kind of mother mine wasn’t (definitely not the one you describe here).

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