My own mother lives two states away so I can't be with her today to celebrate her. I called her and thanked her for being my favorite mom, and the only one willing to put up with my shenanigans. For how awesome she is, she isn't perfect. Luckily, she doesn't claim to be.
Joyce Ann married my father when she was only 21. She bore three children while putting up with a man who didn't deserve her and the blessing of a family. Finally, 19 years after I was born, she broke free from his abuse and decided to start living her life on her own terms. And I couldn't be more proud.
The love I have for my mother is one that defies logic, and thrives at times even against my own selfish will. It's easy to pass judgment - to see all the things she could have done differently or that I am choosing to do differently with my own kids. Being a mother is the toughest job in the world - anyone who says otherwise has never been a mother. And along with being the toughest job, it's also the most thankless job. It's inevitable that we, as parents, are going to leave a few (figurative) scars behind on our children. Even those of us who try to achieve perfection will fall short. Still the goal remains: provide a childhood that our kids don't have to recover from.
If you remove my abusive father from the equation, my mother did just that. She worked long hours at jobs that made her feel dead inside, because I needed dance shoes for show choir. Her afternoons were spent ferrying me from school to practice to voice lessons an hour away, and back again. When she collapsed in bed, it was only hours before she had to get up and do it all over again. I never went without clean clothes, a roof over my head, or food in my belly. No matter what it cost her, she guaranteed that my needs came before her own. I'm tearing up as I write this, because I spent too many years being ungrateful and taking her efforts for granted.
Unfortunately, I can't disentangle my father from my childhood. His abuse is a dark cloud that erased much of my memories of my youth. My mind protects me from that trauma by blocking me from wallowing in my memories of being whipped, beaten with plastic hangers, or spat on. This is the pain left by a parent who only knows how to hurt others. Who has no capacity for love, or putting others first.
Before you judge my mother for "keeping me in that situation", I'd advise you to shut up and listen to me, the person that was most impacted by my childhood. My mother is both superhero and mere mortal. Humans aren't perfect, and the cycle of abuse is a black hole that few ever escape. She might not have been able to get out herself, but she made damn sure that I would never fall into that trap. She sheltered me from the worst of my father, standing up to him when she could gather the strength to do so. I never understood the extent to which she sacrificed herself and her own happiness until I was years gone from our home. I do not hold this weakness against her, and I refuse to let anyone else hold it against her either. In the context of her parenting, this is a tiny failure that is overshadowed by her many successes.
My mother is a much better person than I could ever dream to be. She is selfless, sensitive, and gentle. She has a wicked sense of humor, an incredibly sharp mind, and a limitless drive. Her beautiful body nourished three humans into existence and never once asked for compensation. Her smile belies the humble satisfaction of a self-rescued badass. And she's finally free.
To my amazing mother, who gave her life for me in more ways than I can explain in mere words. You are my inspiration.
(Photo credit from my wedding to John Higgins of Foster Light Studios.)
How have you thanked the mother figures in your life today? Tell me your gift ideas on Twitter - @pi3sugarpi3.