I can't believe my mom raised four kids between two small towns in rural Iowa and lived to talk about it. When I think of the resources available to families today, and moms in particular, it makes me want to weep for that girl in her young twenties just doing what had to be done out on the farm. Cooking, cooking, and more cooking. Cleaning and ironing and hauling food out to the field and running farm errands non-stop. There wasn't a lot of time for socialization, few people to bounce ideas off of, few people to ask for help and certainly no instant chat rooms to run to when you felt alone, stranded, at your wit's end. It makes me think I am a major wuss.
I have never been one to take a lot of time to examine what I did or did not get from my mom. Being a parent myself has made me see that we all do the best we can with what we are given. I know my kids will have their own therapy bills to contend with though I hope they adopt my approach which has basically been, "Get over it already!" It saves time and money.
The long and short of it is that we do not have the perfect relationship. She had a difficult life and I worked hard not to add to it. Without even realizing it, I kind of stop letting my mom be my mom because I didn't want to be a burden when she already had so much to bear. I made that choice not to lean on her though she has always been in my corner. When I couldn't find a job, when I finally had a job, at all the speech meets for students I coached for the first time on my own, when I lost many babies, when I had babies, when Paul died, and so many other times in between my mom has been at my side. Her physical presence has been my gift. My mom, despite my not really opening up to her or leaning on her, has always planted herself nearby. And so I credit her for not giving up on me, on us, for accepting what is and running with it. Mom is much more resilient than I fear I will ever be.
And so it goes without saying that I love her, but it must also be said that I love her in ways that have yet to reveal themselves fully to me.
I was never the perfect daughter. And she is the mom that I know and from whom I have based all other female relationships upon. It can feel complex and sticky and burdensome and overwhelming and I will never pretend to understand it all. But what is great about love, especially mother-love, is that it doesn't have to be figured out or perfect or what we want it to be or what we think it should be. If we are lucky enough to get out of the way of all that crap, it can just be.
I am working on that and she is letting me.
Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you.