My mom was the 5th of 6 kids in an Irish American family. Her parents came through Ellis Island. She came along once the family had “made” it to the suburbs of New Jersey. Her father was a drunk and she lost two brothers and her father all before she graduated from college. When she was in school, she wasn’t allowed to do sports but was very proud to have been on the cheerleading team. She wasn’t sure about attending college but after pressure from her brother she chose to study teaching over nursing because she’d rather interact with healthy children instead of sick. She fell head over heels in love with my dad when she met him by some crazy twist of fate–two NJ kids, academically challenged, both getting teaching degrees in Missouri. She married him and started a family of her own by age 23. This is the story I grew up on.
My mom and I were close when I was a kid. I cried for her at sleepovers until I was in 5th grade (bizarre). She felt safe to me, always encouraging and preparing me to be and do my best. I had a great childhood and a really good relationship with my mom, still do.
But still, I can vividly remember the moment during college when I realized my mom was merely a person, like me. That was both painful and so freeing. That’s the funny thing about family, they can cause you the greatest joy and pain. The realization that my mom was a mere mortal meant that my mom’s opinion was just that, an opinion, not the gospel that I had always accepted it to be and obeyed by.
I had been deemed the “rebellious” child ever since I declared that I would no longer be wearing ankle fit jeans from Caldors and would instead be using the money that we would have spent in combination with my own money to purchase jeans at the mall. I believe I was in 9th grade.
My being “rebellious” was me disagreeing with my mom. My mom did me the greatest service by teaching me that I could be or do anything. The only caveat, she questioned and often disagreed with anything outside of what she deemed acceptable or desirable. Which is why seeing my mom as a person isn’t all that bad. It curbs some of the hurt when she doesn’t approve or support something I’m passionate about and it let’s me remember that she is doing the best she can.
I am the strong, confident, happy and driven person that I am today because of my mom. I am so happy to have her and so glad that my children get to have her too. Happy mother’s day mom! Apparently, I was right about Caldor…