I think about my mom a lot. Not just because she is so far away and I miss her, But I am starting to identify myself to her and I notice some of her quirks in myself.
I had an unconventional upbringing.Most children whose parents are married either have their mom at home while dad is away at work, or both parents working. Both of my parents worked when I was small- probably up until I was in first or second grade. Then my dad would go through multiple jobs in a short period of time until ultimately giving up, but mom still worked.
I remember my favorite Job she had was working nights as an ER intake clerk, because she was always home when I got off the bus from school in the afternoon. It was nice to have her there even though she was usually napping. Then there was a short time period when she was in between jobs and doing temp work at the local tomato plant until she found something more suitable.
We were really poor. so poor that for a time, my dresser was a cardboard box with A lid, and bath time consisted of tossing all 4 of us girls into the shower together to save water.
But we had blankets and pillows and beds with proper mattresses to sleep with, and we never went hungry. I get asked a lot about the kinds of meals my mom used to make regularly as a child and I can never really answer. She was busy making ends meet, and so we had lots of hamburger helper, macaroni and cheese, ramen noodles, and variations of each. Chili mac, tuna mac, etc. and dad would make pot o' glop out of whatever leftovers he could find. We also ate a lot of breakfast for dinner- and biscuits and gravy but used toasted bread instead of biscuits. We would all pitch in to help get it together and my older sisters were
oftentimes given the responsibility of making the meal while kara and I
made the kool-aid and set the table.
My mom always made sure we got to bed early and had enough sleep to do well in school. She also mandated baths every night. She never missed a parent teacher conference or any concerts. My homework was always done. My grades were awesome.
She made sure I brought a small gift to all the birthday parties I was invited to, and that was always a nice treat to go to the store- just me and her- and pick something out for her to wrap. I also loved it when she took me to the library down the street.
Even though she didn't always verbalize it, I always knew I was loved. Our life changed in it's entirety when dad took us out of school in 1999. I was the last one to be pulled out, but my older sisters were in high school and it wasnt an easy transition for any of us. at times I think it was just a way for Dad to justify being jobless if he kept us home.
And then our lives changed drastically again two years later when My sister died.
I really don't know how my mom did it.
As a newlywed and poor college student, she's saved the day many times with her generosity or calm demeanor when I am in the middle of a breakdown and so frustrated that I can't see straight. When I've been too wound up to see the solution, I've called her- knowing she would know the right thing to say. Sometimes it's been "We overdrew on our bank account AGAIN and it wasn't on food" and she would simply ask if we paid tithing, when next payday was and if we had gas in our tank. Somehow those simple questions would be the backbone on how we made it through our scarce newlywed stage. Or it would be " breastfeeding gets easier, I PROMISE".
She really felt like a mom when she came out to be with me as I prepared to have Paxton. She drove me around everywhere and paid for all our food, and cooked and cooked and cleaned so I wouldn't have to. We got a lot of quality time that I had never experienced before. And then she was there holding my hand and wiping the sweat off my face as I pushed for hours trying to get paxton out. I would hear her catch her breath every time I stopped pushing- as if she was pushing with me. And she supported my body in those final moments before he was born because I was too exhausted to squat on my own.
Watching her as a grandma is incredibly endearing. She loves my kids more than life, and know it pains her to be so far away from them.
She's been through a lot, and as I look at my life through the lens of mother and wife, I feel empowered by her example, knowing that she's got all reputable advice I could ever want or ask for.
Knowing that she's made it through her trials, gives me strength that I have the power to do the same.
If mom can do it, so can I.