So there they are left, unexpectedly, a family of 7 kids and a mother that only knew the bottle to bring her comfort and numb the pain. My mom was 7 years old at the time of her father’s death. She fell in the middle of the mix, with siblings older and younger than her.
Her mom wasn’t always “there” to help with homework, offer advice or shower them with hugs and kisses. Though, somehow she made it through elementary and secondary school, with the help of her eldest brother and sister. There was no thought of attending college as she knew she had to contribute to the household. No matter how hard she worked, sometimes it wasn’t enough for her mom, especially after a hard day of drinking. Unfortunately my grandma wasn’t a happy drinker. She often spewed words that a daughter should never hear from her mother. Yet, somehow my mom survived.
She left home and married at the young age of 20. I was born just over a year later, with a sister and brother to arrive 3 ½ and 5 years later, respectively. What did this young woman, just barely out of her teens, really know about being a mom? She didn’t have much of a role model. She didn’t know the feeling of security and unconditional love that every child deserves to experience. She DID know that the bottle brings things that she didn’t care to emulate.
The work ethic of my dad attracted my mom to him, only to later realize that work got in the way of everything. My dad, the workaholic, was never around to help with three kids under the age of 5. He never changed a, not one, diaper – true story. Now I have to give him some credit here. He did provide for his family and didn’t spend time in bars or with other women, nonetheless it left my mom with no help. My mom stayed home with us until she was forced to assist in running my dad’s car dealership. My dad has a real knack for starting businesses, but has trouble managing 5 cents. So yes, my mom took care of the finances as well. She would be the reason that the business was and is successful, along with my dad’s expertise in the car market.
Mom was on the clock from the moment we got up until the time we were in bed. So many of my friends never knew my dad, never laid eyes on him. Heck, I barely did. Mom carted us around to every place we had to be, helped us with homework, had dinner on the table, and provided so much love and support. There was no rest for her, ever! On Saturdays, dad worked. On Sundays he gallivanted as he pleased. He went to church, Dunkin Donuts, to the Italian store, maybe visited a friend or relative. And there was mom, with us kids again, like a single parent.
Her patience barely ever wore thin. She never turned to the bottle for relief. She dealt with all of our drama, on top of all the adult problems that existed from time to time. She never shared her frustrations nor took them out on us. She tried her hardest to make it to my athletic events, with work sometimes interfering. However, no matter how horribly I performed, she always encouraged me and complimented my play. She was my biggest cheerleader, always positive, and never put me down. She was also responsible for teaching us morals and values. She consistently demonstrated such kindness, compassion and thoughtfulness to anyone who crossed her path.
Despite the challenges that my brother presented, my mom kept and keeps pushing on. She didn’t quit parenting. She never gives up hope, though she no longer enables either. She learned that enabling robs from the opportunity of growth. She has taught us, through example, how to weather tough times, and to never give up on your kids. She doesn’t always like my brother, but she continues to love and encourage him. Mom does her best to shield my sister and me from the things we don’t “need” to know. She doesn’t want to cause additional stress and worry to our worlds. She does it on her own, she takes the brunt of it all.
Mom was blessed with a granddaughter over 10 years ago which brought so much happiness to a world that was somewhat dark at times. She just adores Leah, just as Leah is so fond of her. Then along came Emily 6 years ago, followed by Audrey who is just shy of her 1st birthday. She really enjoys time with her grandkids. When my girls spend time with her, Emily often returns mimicking (not consciously) my mom’s mannerisms. It’s quite entertaining. Grandma, whom the girls refer to as Mimi, can often be spotted at soccer games and school performances, supporting my girls just as she supported me. Mimi provides the calmness that they wish for in their mom.
My mom is a pretty amazing woman! She never quite had it easy and continues to experience challenges in her life, but appreciates and enjoys the good. Mom isn’t very emotional, outwardly anyway. I know there are times of sadness and tears, and I suppose she experiences them in her own time and privacy. I feel sad for that. I know she doesn’t want us to worry. I wish I could provide her the peace she longs for, the same peace we all long for, but I can’t. I can only try to make things easier by celebrating the good in our lives. There is plenty of that.
There is no way I could put my mom’s greatness in words. She’s too big, too awesome, such a wonderful woman! If I can be half the mom mine was and is to me and my siblings, my kids will be lucky!
Thank you mom, for being you! I love you!