I've been a mother now for 13 years, and nothing gives me understanding and compassion for my own mother like looking into the eyes of my children. Growing up, I often felt motherless - my mother suffered from PTSD long before the world knew that PTSD wasn't just reserved for soldiers.
My mother was a soldier in her own right, a warrior. When her first marriage collapsed and she found herself largely alone with two children to raise, she picked herself up and moved on. She coped in the best ways that she could, and she tried to pull herself together for my brother and I. She worked her ass off, but she made a life. She met a man when I was little, a man who was beautiful and charming, who was kind and sweet. He was the caretaker for his handicapped younger brother, and he loved my mother, my brother, and me.
His name was Greg, and he wanted us. He wanted to marry my mother.
She turned him down - she didn't want him tied to a ready-made family; he had just entered her 30s and he was in his early 20s. Now, as a single mother for the second time, raising children suffering under the pain of the loss of their dad's presence in their lives, I understand her.
Perhaps she was afraid he would leave too. Perhaps she saw that my brother and I loved him already, perhaps she was trying to protect us. She broke his heart, preventing him from breaking ours. And I understand that in a way I couldn't before, when I resented her for sending him away.
She believed again though eventually, and met a man who made her think he was perfect. He was charming and wild and fun. I imagine by that time in her life, exhausted and lonesome and tired of carrying everything herself, she saw what she wanted to see in him, because she needed a break and wanted a partner to share her life with. For so many years, I resented her for bringing him in to ruin our lives - I resented her for believing in the man he wasn't, for allowing him access to wreak havoc in our family. I despised her weakness and hated the lasting effects of her mistake in trusting him.
But I'm a mother now, single and carrying so many burdens on my own. I'm tired and I'm worn down and honestly, some days I don't think I can handle it all on my own. I want someone to stand next to me reassuringly. I want someone watching my back, a shoulder side-by-side with me in the battle of life. I want pillow talk and a man to fix the sink and a ring on my finger. I understand my mother, and the depth of emotional longing that once made her weak.
She's been single ever since that second marriage. She hasn't been on one date that I know of, hasn't been courted one time, hasn't given out her number, hasn't dressed up to go to a bar. She hasn't opened herself up.
And I understand what makes her strong now, what makes her ready and able and willing to stand alone - because I am all those things too now. I have felt trapped, and battered, and betrayed. I have felt cornered, and beaten, and broken. But like my mother, I have survived.
Scarred, yes. Changed? Yes.
But for the better, I think. Less naive, less dependent, less ... porous. And where once there were horribly shattered places, missing pieces, and ugly brokenness, there is now something new, something artfully beautiful, something stronger in the gold that binds it all together.
With more understanding, there is less resentment, less anger. I'm sorry for the time I've wasted with my mother, and with the tension that still lies between us due to our history and the jagged edges left behind by the past.
One of my biggest goals in writing is to reach financial success before she dies - to give her the satisfaction of knowing her daughter "became" something, and to give myself the certainty of two things:
- that she will go in peace, knowing that her children are alright; and
- that I will be able to care for and honor her in death the way I could never afford to in her life.
But there's still time yet, and she's still here - she'll be 59 years old next month. just under a week after Mother's Day. So, as I look forward to celebrating my mother, I thought this would be a great time to help you find a way to honor yours.
My mom's a total sucker for fancy-looking flower arrangements, and over the years she's filled her house with dozen of arrangements she's created with dried and realistic artificial flowers. In one corner of her living room, there's a giant vase so full it can no longer be lifted, with over a hundred bits and pieces of flowers and greenery arranged in it. So I know the last thing she needs is MORE flowers, but she so loves them that I thought a fruit bouquet would be a great substitute gift for her on Mother's Day! (promo code FBFREE expires May 31, 2017)
I really love these three shown in the banner below - aren't they cute? The photos are from the site's product pages on fruitbouquets.com - I can't decide if I like the one in the middle or the one on the right more. (promo code FRUITNOW expires May 30, 2017)
|Enjoy 20% Off sitewide on fresh fruits arrangements from Fruit Bouquets by 1800Flowers.com! Use code FRUITNOW|
And if your mom is a little crazy and doesn't love beautifully arranged chocolate covered fruit, why not send her a care package of beautiful things from DressLily? DressLily is great for the fashion-conscious gift-giver who likes their mom to look nice without going broke - their clearance section is always full of gorgeous things to wear, beautiful accessories, and fun little novelties that impress without breaking the bank, and actually, I've shopped from them before with great results.
Bonus: You can have a package delivered right to your mom's door, you can get 12% off sitewide, AND you can do it with free shipping - just use coupon code:2017DL (promo code 2017DL expires July 31, 2017)
But what do you do for a mom who has everything? The mom who has her life together and literally needs nothing? When you know you're too old to get away with a handmade card and a rock you found beside the driveway? When you've become a parent yourself and now you understand all those times she used to say how tired she was? Or when you've REALLY messed up and you need to make things better with the woman who birthed you and raised you and loved you enough to not drown you in the bathtub?
Well, then you go for something like this:
Here's to a Happy Mother's Day for your mom in the next few weeks - and for you if, like me, you have a MUCH better understanding of your mom these days.
Well, then you go for something like this: