Today is Mother’s Day in the USA. A day to appreciate mothers, regardless who — or where — they are. And so, I would like to wish all of the mothers a Happy Mother’s Day. Today, I remember my mother. She died unexpectedly on September 11, 2002. There is an interesting story regarding her death, but that is another chapter I will share in my book, “Chattahoochee Child.”
Today, I will reflect on Mothers. Motherhood is a day that most girls dream about as little children. We play with our baby dolls, changing their diapers and clothes, feeding them baby bottles and we dream of the blissful day when we become mothers. Becoming teenagers, we babysit, still dreaming about the day when we give birth to a child.
I will go on record here to say, it takes more than imaginations, dreams and desires to become a mother. A mother is the first person babies get to recognize when we are so dependent on a mother. I imagined myself as a great mother because I loved small children. I loved scooping them up sitting on my lap while I read picture book stories to them. I loved playing pretend with them, singing and dancing with small children, and I loved babysitting.
After marriage, I discovered it indeed ‘takes a village to raise a child.’ After giving birth to my child, I recognized motherhood was more demanding that I imagined. Suddenly this tiny little boy was placed in my arms, screaming louder than I imagined a baby could scream. After we came home, I was convinced I did not need help to care for him. After all, I was his mother. I could handle any of the demands he screamed out to me. I was wrong!
Mornings began early — really early, and sleep was something I was deprived of. I learned to sleep when the baby sleeps. My husband did not help — at all. He used the excuse he didn’t know how to care for a baby. He couldn’t change diapers or feed him. All that he enjoyed was the fun of making a baby. Maybe that is why we only had one! While making a baby was fun, the joy of caring for a baby quickly wore me out. And when my husband jokingly mentioned having another, I did not laugh. Motherhood was just a bit more demanding that I ever imagined.
Perhaps that is the reason my mother and I did not get along in life. As a child, I was the persnickety one! I loved to dress up and make an entrance. Singing and dancing on the stage gave me life and I knew at the age of five-years-old I was meant to entertain. As a teenager, I grew into a shell, hiding away, afraid to speak, sing or dance. I watched my parents marriage quickly deteriorating. I stood between them, serving as the referee so they would not hit one another. I remember screaming, “Please stop this. You are killing each other.”
When I was 15, my parents separated and divorced. Mom moved us into our grandparents mill house. I enrolled in high school, blending into the walls. No one remembered me. The music stopped and I no longer sang or dance. My life was in turmoil. My mother and I fought. Sometimes she would pull my hair and slap me, just to shut me up. I saw the bitter side of motherhood and for a while, I thought I would never become a mother.
Today, I do my best to look for the good that was inside my mother, and I reflect on her unhappiness. Not every one is good mother material. After all, life has a way of demanding too much controversy and difficulty. After moving away from the mill village, my husband and I drove back to the mill village occasionally to see my mother. Each time, I left in tears. Bitter words were spat at me. Questions vocalized that I was ‘rich’ since I drove a new car, wore expensive clothing and shoes. I laughed! All of my clothing and shoes were sale or clearance items and I managed a tight household budget. It was obvious with each visit that jealousy brewed inside my mother. Never did she rush to hug me, or tell me she loved me. All I remember were the brutal attacks, and with each visit, I wiped tears from my eyes while inside all I wanted to hear was that she loved me and was happy to see me. She stood her ground — refusing. Inside her home, all of my pictures were gone. In her eyes, I no longer existed.
In later years, she had a stroke. I found out when the nursing home phoned me to ask if I would fill out paperwork for her to remain. My youngest sister was missing at the time, and the social worker admitted to me that my mother had been removed from my sister’s home after a court order.
I completed all of the paperwork and my mother received the medical care she deserved. I drove to Georgia to see her. She didn’t recognize me, but did recognize my husband. Returning home, I spoke with the nursing home every day, hoping that my mother would improve.
On September 11, 2002, my mother died. I was informed after my sister’s son phoned me to let me know the funeral would be the next morning. The one comment made to me several times while on the phone was: “Do you think they’ll do an autopsy?”
I had less than 24 hours to get to the funeral. At the time, I was in bed sick with acute bronchial asthma. I was taking Prednisone at the time and was a total zombie to be around. My husband was away in Italy, so I did not make it to the funeral. Never did I get to say goodbye to my mother.
Three months later, I wrote a letter to my mother, to say goodbye. Now at peace with her death, and our history together, I wish her a Happy Mother’s Day in heaven. To all of you who are mothers, or have mothers still alive, I do hope you will take the time to wish your mother a Happy Mother’s Day. Even if there are challenges and adversities you share, think of it this way — she is the one who gave you life. Without her care, you would not be around to breathe or appreciate life.
May God bless mothers, everywhere. As we know, motherhood does not come with an instructional booklet. None of us are truly prepared to be a mother; however, we must work together to become appreciative of each other and our lives together. Life is too short to hold a grudge. Pick up the phone today to speak to your mother. To say thank you..and most of all, to say, “Mom. I love you.” Regardless. She is your mother.
Happy Mother’s Day!