Wednesday, May 06, 2009

For My Mother

I love my mom. As crazy as my family is and as much energy as I've spent trying to extricate myself from the madness of my past, my mother is still very important to me.

In the past I've written about some less-than-palatable times we've had. Yes, there were many. We've fought, we've turned our backs on each other for years at a time... and sometimes worse. Though our childhood was volatile and many times chaotic, with Mother's Day coming up this weekend I wanted to share more of her "whole person" with you.

My mother is beautiful. Large, brown doe-eyes and brown hair and with olive colored skin. Many people have said we look very much alike in features, except that I am more of a photo-negative of her coloring. She is young, but looks far younger than her years.

My mother instilled in me my love of crafting. Growing up, my mother was always creating things. She sewed clothing, quilts, even playthings and costumes for us. We were Raggedy Ann and Andy, Smurfs and many other characters. She made us incredibly beautiful Easter dresses and detailed embroidered baby quilts. She macraméd everything from wall-hangings to doll swings, and back in the 1970s we made flower arrangements from fake fur and floral wire.

My mother put her all into creatively embellishing everything she had a hand in. I remember one winter we were building a snow-person family, when one snow-man's head rolled off and got stuck between two of the snow men's bodies. We tried to pull it out, but they'd become frozen together. My ever-resourceful mom took advantage of this and disappeared into the house, returning with bottlecaps, a scarf and a jump rope. Our family of snowmen was quickly transformed into a snow horse, complete with reigns, harness and saddle. We kids took turns sitting on our horse while mom took pictures.

For my brother's baby quilt, my mother embroidered (before technology like an embroidery machine) a large diesel truck with all our nicknames onto it. She then made matching baby blocks for it in coordinating fabric. It was an amazing sight and looking back, it's amazing to think of the work and detail she put into it.

My mother and I are much alike in other ways, as well. We're both professional worriers, both have a tendency to panic (initially) in the face of adversity, and both turn into bulldogs to face that adversity down once we've gotten our bearings and taken hold of the situation. We've been through the same things, gotten ourselves into the same situations and struggled with the same issues. We've both had more than our share of bad times, both been "gluttons for punishment" and both punished ourselves for far too long for our mistakes. I've spent a lifetime being angry and focusing on the hurt. It was infuriating to me that she'd seemingly allowed so much to happen to her, and to us. Being the oldest of her four children only exacerbated my frustration. I wanted to fix it for her, to stand up for her, and stand up to her. I grew up resenting her for those mistakes, but having gone through many of them (and more) as an adult, I've realized her position - and that's it's not always as easy to "fix" as it might seem.

I've also realized that most other families (if not all) have their own skeletons. Our family is not perfect, and not at all close to one another. Most of us tend to distrust one another and the internal family wars go back several generations. There's been abuse of all kinds, the pitting of one against another, mistakes have been made and hurtful words and rumors spread. It's so easy to look at all of the mess and tell yourself they're fiendish, malicious and rotten.

The truth of the matter is, they're simply human.

If we were all defined only by our mistakes, most people would never venture outside their own homes. How many of us have never made a bad decision? Anyone who says they haven't is either in denial or a terrible liar. There are plenty of reasons and even more excuses for our behavior, but the fact remains the same: Nobody's perfect.

While I don't condone many of the issues our family has, I do accept that we all have imperfections. I have plenty of them, and plenty of regrets. I've not been a perfect mother - not by a long shot. But my experiences as a mother have taught me that regardless of the mistakes and bad decisions, we've all done our best to make the right ones based on our mindset at the time. Being wrong is a part of life. Horrible experiences are a part of life. And regrets, worry and mistakes are a part of motherhood.

I love my mother. I love her with all my heart. And though she is already aware of it, I will be there for her and love her and if she needs me to, I will take care of her.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom.


Your most petulant, quarrelsome and rebellious daughter, who's been there too and understands.

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