My sister and I just finished putting together a slide show and song for our mom, and I think it is quite wonderful. Mom seems to like it a lot, although at first she said that she didn’t think there was enough interesting in her life to write about. As I get to be an older mom myself, I have to say that I think she’s just amazing, and I could only hope to be as good a mom as she has been, and I’m honored to have written a song for her.
I am discovering that having two children in their twenties is actually quite stressful, much more than I thought it would be. I know they’re grown, and basically responsible for themselves, but they still have much to learn, many ups and downs, and struggle with the dependence/independence issue constantly. It actually makes me a wreck, because I know they’re old enough to listen to (what I think is) good advice, but I also know that they have to make their own mistakes and decisions in order to grow and mature. It makes me remember how I was in my twenties, and I’ll tell you, I wasn’t easy for anyone, my parents, my husband, or myself!
I had a lot of ups and downs, jobs that didn’t work out at the last minute when I’d just moved to a state far from home and parents, a husband who wasn’t really tuned in to my needs at all, depression about some issues that happened when I was a teen that I still wasn’t able to move on from, and financial worries. I know that I complained a lot to mom when I talked to her in our regular phone calls. I know she must have felt helpless to some degree, and anxious to hear me be upset. Yet she did her best to listen, she didn’t try to give a lot of advice, she was heatrfelt in her acknowledgement of my feelings. My parents offered help where they could, but generally let me tackle my issues, and I guess they had faith that I could do so. I now really understand how brave they were to be mostly hands off, although we definitely kept in touch about everything. I’m trying to learn from the memory of how they were with me. I still have a ways to go.
Mom was our rock for all of my school life, but unfortunately, I don’t think I realized or appreciated that at the time. She was a stay-at-home mom until I left for college, or right before that, and she made our lunches and did our laundry and arranged our trips, and took us where we needed to go, at least until I learned to drive, and then I had the old family car to drive. She seemed to truly enjoy her life as a mom, was always extremely kind to our friends, put up with my boyfriends, and was completely reliable. I realize now as I talk to my friends and listen to others in my classes, that I was incredibly lucky to have such a stable, forgiving, kind, and generous mom. At the time, I’m sure I took it for granted. I’m so sorry for that, mom. That was my mistake in the old days, but no more.
Mom was the one who got up early when we stayed in motels on our field trips in the summer, and went out to get rolls and orange juice for us for breakfast. She’s the one who read the map and made sure we were on track when Dad drove on those trips, and I only remember a couple of times when they fought and Mom got out of the car for a little bit until everyone calmed down. Mom was the one who made dinners every single night for all of us to eat, no matter how much money there was, she figured out a meat, a vegetable, (or casserole), salad and dessert for us. I can’t even imagine that, because I know I wasn’t that good for my kids when they were growing up. We did manage to eat just fine, but it wasn’t always balanced, and it was rarely at a table. My mom baked, she sewed our clothes, she knitted for us, she made things for our dolls. We did not need her to play with us the way my kids seemed to need me to join in their play, but she took care of everything in the house and for school, quietly and competently. I remember watching soap operas with her when I was sick. I remember the grilled cheese sandwiches we ate on Sunday nights while watching Disney. I remember the times when she had a party and we got to eat the extra mixed nuts afterwards. And on the rare nights she and dad went out, she provided TV dinners for us, which was an extra special treat.
Now mom is dad’s companion, goes calmly through all the dramas that happen on a farm, makes the calls, takes care of the hundred year old farm house, deals competently with each issue as it comes up. Once when I was there, she got hurt when the porch swing broke, and needed stitches in her head. She was ready to deal with it by herself, but since I can’t imagine doing such a thing alone, I insisted on holding her hand and being right there while they stitched her up. I never realized how stoic she was. I know there are many more examples of this that I wasn’t around for, and I have to say, I’m sorry about that. Although Mom is 84 years old, and we’ve almost always had regular phone contact, Mom got a laptop, took private lessons on how to use the computer, and now we communicate by email frequently. It is wonderful, and makes me feel like I know more of her daily life, plus it gives us a chance to talk about other things as well. I really admire her for continuing to learn when I know that the computer can be very daunting, and think she is very brave for tackling it.
Although Mom is always very organized and careful with money, it is she who offered the retirement money she earned after I went to college, to buy my house so that the girls and I could have a stable place to live. This is certainly the greatest present I’ve ever been given, and it has literally changed my life. This was the first place I’ve ever lived that I’ve felt truly comfortable in, and been able to completely explore my decorating and gardening abilities. It has allowed me to save money, to be financially stable and completely settled for the duration of my girls’ childhoods. And now it is also the reason that Sarita and I have a little home in Trail’s End where we’re planning to move. I love this place here in CA, and thought I would never ever leave it, but my heart has been called to the desert. I am holding on to this house both because I love it, and for my children if they eventually are interested. Meanwhile, I’ve found wonderful renters who feel blessed to have the opportunity to live in this area, and have great ideas for improvements. This house has made many things possible for me, and I am thankful every day to my mom in particular, for this gift. If my girls can ever think half as much of me as I think of mom, I will be a lucky person.
Although I don’t know how to put the slide show on this site, at least I can post the song I wrote. I love you, Mom.