Earlier tonight, I was just on Facebook listening to a mother (around your age) pour her heart out about her feelings of love, inadequacy, desperation, frustration, joy and every emotion in between, as she shared her experience of being a mother of her generation. She talked about how almost every mother does her best, gives everything she has, with no training (especially back then), making the most incredible sacrifices and yet, often you still feel it wasn’t good enough, especially when your children (who might even be mothers/fathers themselves) remind you of your failings.
Her words hit me hard, as I thought of you.
Let me say….. You were and are a wonderful Mother! You don’t hear that nearly enough. I recognize the incredible sacrifices you’ve made for us, your children. Any shortcomings you might have had were a result of you being human, while all the many successes you’ve achieved were the result of you being Amazing.
I know your story as well as anyone can, yet I don’t know your story at all.
I can talk about the way you grew up, being the second oldest of 10 kids, causing you to basically be a mother well before it was your time. Having a hard father, who like the rest of us, was trying to figure out this life and not always succeeding, especially during the first half of his children’s lives, with limited financial means. A mother who tried to create balance and safety, while being true to her convictions…. an almost impossible task.
We could move onto your marriage to Dad. The 30 year roller coaster of ups and downs, created when two beautiful people commit to each other, then exhaust every limit of that conviction for all the right reasons, before you both find your own paths of happiness. So much gained, lost, experienced, cherished and learned in that 30 years.
Married young, started an immediate family by having a daughter. Then a second daughter… Losing that daughter, Tresa. I don’t know how you dealt with that pain. Honestly, I hope I never find out, but I admire you and Dad so much for the courage you had to keep moving forward; bringing me into the world shortly after. I am the literal proof of your strength, courage, love and conviction.
Y’all have two more children (another daughter and son). You also made a decision that I believe literally saved a life but came at a tremendous sacrifice to you and your marriage…. You adopted a son. A 10 yr old boy, who desperately needed a loving safe family. His name is James. Your son and my brother. His life was worth any and every sacrifice and joy that came from him joining our family. Thank you.
You fought to keep a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, food in the fridge, heat/cold in the house and the family intact. I can’t imagine how real and hard those battles were because I haven’t had to fight them in the same ways you did. My family and I have directly benefited from your sacrifice. I don’t have the words to thank you adequately. I know you did your absolute best to raise your children and care for your family, often at the cost of your own wellbeing and sanity. I hope you can see, from my view, you succeeded.
Now you are on a new path. I’ve never seen you happier. It warms my heart. You are an amazing grandma! My kids adore you and get so excited each time they hear you’re coming over. We are lucky to have you back in Houston, so they can know you.
You stood by me as I deserted the religion you strongly believe and love. You’ve never condemned or argued or fought with me about my decision, even when I’m vocal about it on social media. You’ve simply been there, making it clear how much you love me and my family and how that will never change. Better than that. Your actions have proven your words to be true. I know many people who have essentially lost their relationship with their parents because of the same decision I’ve made. I’m grateful that hasn’t happened to us.
I’m extremely grateful for what I’ve learned for you during my life. I’ve observed everything I could. From your marriage with Dad to your service in church to your friendships to your parenting to your relentless desire to defend and fight for those you love. I get my passion and fighting spirit from you. There’s no doubt about that.
You often tell Bonnie how happy you are to see our relationship, specifically how I treat her. Please know, Bonnie and I have the marriage we do largely because of what I learned from watching you and Dad. I was paying attention. Taking notes. Celebrating your triumphs. Crying during your heartbreaks. Learning from your mistakes. Even when I was an aloof, obstinate and often absent teenager, I was watching. Trying to fulfill the dream each parent has for their child…. to have a better life than we had.
I’m living that dream because of you. I’m the person I am because of you. Without you, there would be no me. My kids wouldn’t exist. Your legacy is rich, beautiful and valued. It will be shared.
Thank you. I Love You Mom.