November is considered “gratitude month” in some 12-step circles, so I want to focus this post on the gratitude I have for my mother, who passed from this lifetime on August 21st.
Some women seem to have been born for motherhood, and I would describe my mom as being one of those people. She got pregnant by accident when she was 17 with my oldest sister, and again with my other sister four years later, and again with me four years after that. Prior to this time she didn’t even like kids, and had no idea she’d love being a mother so much. She married my dad soon after she found out she was pregnant the first time. Although we were all accidents, we were happy accidents that she never regretted.
She was not perfect. When she was in her 30s she went through a long bout of depression that wasn’t so great for any of us. Her second marriage was empty, and she worked in retail which was stressful at times while raising us three girls. But one thing was always true: we never doubted her love for us. She would often say, “If it weren’t for you girls, I don’t know what I’d do.”
Not everyone gets to have a mother like this. Who she was: our biggest cheerleader, a champion of good causes, a believer in justice and honesty. Who she was NOT: a guilt-tripper, a scorekeeper, a backstabber. Once she and her best friend pooled together their money to help a customer, another mother who had to put her kid’s Christmas gifts on lay-away, and they helped this woman buy her gifts. She encouraged independence from the time we were little: we picked out our own clothes, we made our own breakfast, we walked to school (with our friends, but that’s what kids did in the 80’s and before), we played in the woods. We took crayons and drew all over the carport walls, and she just laughed. She took us to the library, she read to us, she cooked dinner for us. She was beautiful but not vain. She was against beauty pageants and for women’s rights. Her wardrobe was outdated because she couldn’t afford to buy clothes for herself, but she made sure we had clothes. We were never forced to eat food we didn’t want (though we all loved vegetables). We were not forced to go to church, but we were encouraged to find a belief that worked for us. As a result, I have no resentment against the church, and didn’t have a hard time believing in God or finding a higher power that worked for me when I needed to do so in getting sober and living a more spiritual way of life.
As a child, and long after, I loved to follow her around while she did laundry or cooked, and just talk to her. When I’d visit her home in North Carolina I loved to sit with her in the morning, sipping coffee while reading our books. We loved going to musicals together, and had gone to see “The Nutcracker” multiple times at different venues, including the Kennedy Center in DC.
These are just a few of the blessings I received from my mother. I believe she’s in a beautiful place that some people call heaven; I don’t worry about that. I am incredibly grateful that she was my mom, and I’m grateful that I get to experience this strong and deep love that I have for her.