You were there my entire life, but I never saw you. As you are, without the layers of expectations of motherhood piled upon you. I took for granted until I was 37 that you were a person. Someone separate from the role that was defined by you giving birth to me.
I didn’t realize that you were an individual with hopes for your future and mistakes from your past. I only saw how those things related to me, and my own anxieties.
I am sorry.
I’m sorry for holding the handful of times you disappointed me as a weapon and evidence of your shortcomings. I’m sorry for not recognizing that faults and flaws are what make you human.
I expected the unattainable perfection of June Cleaver and other TV moms who are one dimensional fictional characters. TV never shows those women calling in to miss work to take care of a child with the chicken pox, and what that sacrifice means as a single parent.
Or time spent repeating spelling words in the car on the long drive to school.
Or hours spent helping me clean my room.
Or helping me focus to write a president report on William Howard Taft that I didn’t tell you about until 15 minutes before bedtime the night before it was due.
Real women have fears and flaws, and lose their patience with their kids sometimes. I know that now, because I am a real woman too.
I’m sorry for judging your life decisions and parenting choices against what I would have done, without recognizing that we are different people. The perspective of adulthood is different. I am thankful that most of the reason I have become who I am, is because of you, and your example.
Christmas Day 2013, you asked me what was wrong as my anger grew. Finally, I screamed at you. On Christmas, I unleashed over three decades of pain I had been holding inside. I called you selfish, and listed all the ways that you had disappointed me. I told me how you failed me as my mother.
A litany of perceived shortcomings.
You were calm, and looked at me with compassion that only my mother could, and said, “I’m sorry you feel that way, Jennifer. I love you.”
After that moment, my eyes were opened.
I finally saw who you were and who you are, Mom.
I’m sorry for waiting so many years into adulthood before I really saw you as a person. I acknowledged how difficult it must have been for you married at 19, a parent at 20 and divorced with two kids before 24. You must have been unsure of who you were, but responsible for two other people.
I know how hard it still is for you now, alone and caring for aging parents.
I see you, Mom, and I love you.
Time as a parent has brought me greater appreciation and understanding of the unseen sacrifices of motherhood.
Cairns of neatly folded laundry.
I look at my sons, and recognize that someday, they will probably feel frustration about my choices. They might carry disappointment into adulthood about my mothering.
My children may not recognize or appreciate my motherly sacrifices. They may not see me as a woman apart from my role until well into adulthood.
But now I know, once you really see your mother as a person, the beauty of her sacrifice is overwhelming.
Genealogy Jen’s Challenge of the Week- Journal or write about- What did you expect from your mother? Were your expectations met? Why or why not?
Bonus Points- What is the greatest lesson your mother taught you?
Thank you for sharing your thoughts Jen. It gives me greater confidence as a mother myself and of course humbles me to grateful tears for my own dear mother.
Catrina, you are a wonderful mother. I think that we are too hard on ourselves as women in general.
I’ve seen my mother as a person for as long as I can remember — all of my parents, really. I don’t necessarily think that’s a good thing, but we’re all adults now, and the past is past.
Lovely to read this today.
On some level, I think I expected my mother to show me all the different ways I could be, never thinking that my mom has just one path–her own. My mom and I are very similar in some ways and very different in others. I guess I’ve had “other mothers” to be models for ways I want to be in the world.
Greatest lesson–that every person is important.
Okay, I am officially blithering. What a beautiful post to a woman who probably did the best she knew how to do.
She did, and she did a wonderful job Peggy.
I love the idea of other mothers. I think that there are so many other women who can nurture teach and love us along our life journey. Thank you so much for sharing.
Sure! It’s also helpful to think about what I can add to the world as an “other mother” myself–since I have no biological children.
That is a lovely thing to share, Jen. It’s 21 years since my mother died, and it is the negatives that most of her kids remember and not the positives. I left home at my marriage a the age of 20 and lived far away. From then until Mum died I only saw her a couple of times a year – sometimes less, and we didn’t share the things that many daughters share with their mothers.
Your post reminds us to look at the person and their strengths as well as their human frailties. This is something I have been trying to do for some years now. I wrote a poem and read it at a poetry group on Mothers’ Day this month. It’s called ‘I wish you could tell me Mum’. I almost broke down several times as I delivered it. I wish I could have known her a lot better.
Thank you, Jen, for such a REAL post about mothers and daughters and appreciation (often realized far too late). I relate, Linda, to what you said but with respect to my father. I am learning about my father and his early working years when I was a child, their struggles as a young married couple, and what they went through to raise my sister and I. Oh, how I NOW see them so much more clearly. Dad was complicated and it is often hard to “love” a parent who is strong-willed and seemingly tactless. Dad wasn’t hard to love, he was hard to like. But, love we did, and he is very missed to this day. I would love to see your poem if you feel like sharing. Good for you that you were able to read it in public. I just love that. I also am trying to accept what I may perceive as a “fault” as just human, in others but also in myself. Sometimes giving self love is the most difficult thing we can do. And on we go. <3
Thank you so much Karenlee for this comment. I may post my poem on to my blog one day. It would have been Mum’s birthday in just over a week. Perhaps then.
So glad you loved your dad – I understand about loving someone but not liking them. 🙂
You are welcome! Part of my “growing” was to learn that while I may love someone, I don’t always like them; this was the case with my father. By the time he passed (10 years ago), ours was a very nice and peaceable relationship. He was a very good and well-educated man; he simply did not have an overabundance of tact in some situations. 😉 Have a great day! 🙂
Oh Karen. How true that is indeed! It’s a process for sure, and some days it is easier for me to embrace myself and love the flaws and rough edges than others. Thank you so much for sharing your story.
Linda, I missed so many of these comments with several of the technical glitches I have had over the past month with my new website, and moving to my self-hosted blog. I haven’t been getting all of my notifications, follows, likes or comments. I am still working on some of my other bugs.
What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it. I am sure that must have been very difficult for you to be so vulnerable in a public setting like that. What a powerful thing it is to recognize people and love them as they are.
So true Jen, but I was really supported by the poetry group – many of them who also ended up with tears in their eyes. Sometimes, we just have to put ourselves out there. There are often people who identify with what you are saying.
P.S. Jen, that is a lovely photo of you and your boys. 🙂
Thanks! I love it for the way they are looking at me, and plan to keep it for the surly teenage years to remind me of that childlike adoration.
This is beautiful! When I first began to read this the other day I was overwhelmed with hormonal emotion and couldn’t continue because it is so universal! I read it fully today, I loved it, very profound.
Thanks Molly! And thanks for letting me know you commented. I realized that I had missed a whole cluster of comments due to technical glitches. Thank you for being an amazing friend.
I want to let you know that your beautiful blog post is listed in today’s Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2016/05/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-may-13-2016.html
Have a great weekend!
Thanks Jana. I’m sorry I missed your comment. I figured you must have promoted it, because of all the links and traffic from you to my site. Thank you for your support and being one of my top blog promoters/ influencers. I really appreciate it!
So beautifully said… Really touching. Thanks for sharing! 🙂
Thank you, and thank you for commenting.
Beautiful Post. On reflection I remember the Day I realized who my Mom was. I miss her daily. HaPpY Mothers Day!
Thanks True. Mothers are amazing people. I’m glad that you were able to see and appreciate her.