Mother’s Day has been hard for years.
All those “Thank God for praying mommas” comments. And things like, “our mothers made us who we are today!” Not for me. Not at my house.
My mother was a drunk. An abusive, angry, bitter drunk.
In my early years, she was a good mom…kind of. She was PTA President, home room mom, etc. She helped other people and was well known in our community. She was a tennis champ. We lived in a beautiful home with a four-car garage and swimming pool in the right area of town. Country club membership was part of our life. I spent many hours at the club pool each summer. We had wedding receptions in our home. Neighborhood parties were great fun! We went to private schools. It was beautiful. On the outside.
But inside, in private, we had yelling, hitting, and anger everyday. It got worse as the years went by. After my parents separated, it was worse still. I had days when I hid, when I was afraid. At our house the main rule was “don’t get mom mad. Especially if she’s drunk.”
I was the baby, her favorite. This is not a good thing. My siblings resented me and took out their anger on me. I remember hiding under my brother’s bed because my sisters wouldn’t dare go in to his room. I was stabbed with a fork, thrown over the banister, hit and made fun of. I hated watching my mom hit or belittle or yell at my siblings knowing there was nothing I could do to stop it. Knowing they would get me back for what she did to them.
I remember one night when I was babysitting for one of my regular families. I’d sat for them for years. Every week or two. Every OU home game. I loved this family. The mom said she would drive me home. Mr. Glen always drove me home. But that night she said that she would drive me. I was concerned. Even more so when she pulled over on a side street and turned off the car. Meredith Glen then turned to me and with tears in her eyes said, “My mom was a drunk, too. I know what it is like growing up with an alcoholic mom. If you ever need to talk or need a safe place to go, call me. I am here. And I love you.” Then we talked for a while.
This was the first time anyone acknowledged what I dealt with. My parents were divorced and I couldn’t really talk with my dad about what happened at home, or I didn’t think I could. I didn’t think anyone else knew. They did. They cared. I saw over the next few years how many of them cared. I had Mama Lane, Mrs. Glen, Mrs. Clark and so many others show me love and encourage me. They showed me what moms can be. They opened their homes to me.
When I married Ron, I got an amazing mother-in-law. Rita was kind, loving, sweet, gentle, and full of grace. She taught first grade for 30 years. I learned so much from her. I learned how to be a good mom from her.
I worked full-time until I was pregnant with our fourth. A friend asked me why I worked rather than stay home. “Because I am afraid that if stay home, I will do to my kids what my mom did to us.” My friend told me I needed to get help with that, to get counseling. I did. And I quit work. I became a stay at home my when Adam was born.
My mother accepted Christ the day she died. I know I will see her in heaven. She died in 1997. I am sorry she never quit drinking. I’m sorry she was so miserable and angry. I am not sorry that I forgave her years ago and we had a fairly good relationship in her final years. Her last visit to our home, she gave me my grandmother’s wedding band. I wear it everyday.
I have a great relationship with my big brother, Uncle Bob to my kids. I’ve forgiven my siblings. I’ve asked their forgiveness. But the junk that happened when we were kids still impacts us today. I rarely see my sisters. (They were both wonderful to me when Andrew died and I am grateful.) A couple of my boys see one of my sisters often because they live close to her, and I am glad they do. She’s a great gal. I pray that some day we may have a closer relationship, but that is not entirely up to me.
So, Mother’s Day has always been hard.
Early in our marriage, Ron encouraged me to think not about the mother I had but the mother I wanted to be.
I have failed many times. But I ask forgiveness and try again. I raised seven amazing people. I am grateful for each of them. I am not a perfect mom, but I changed the family line. I did a better job than my mom did. And I pray that my children are better parents than we were.
Mother’s Day is no longer hard because of my childhood. Last year was hard. Obvious reasons. This year I spent the day with Ron. We had dinner with dear friends in St. Louis Saturday night then got up and drove to Chicago. We rode a couple of hours on a nice trail through a nature refuge. Lovely weather for riding bikes in a beautiful area makes for a nice Mother’s Day.
Note: my oldest daughter is named after Meredith Glen.