[blog title sung like, "Single Ladies (put a ring on it), by Beyonce]
In honor of Mother's Day, the ladies of "Ay, Mama!" have decided to focus this week's entries on Mother's Day related topics... and rightfully so, don't you think?
Mother's Day has always been an important day in our family - and by family, I'm referring to my mom, sister and me (my family before marriage and children). My parents were divorced when I was five years old and my sister, Julie, was three. As a result, my mom's dream of being a stay-at-home mom crumbled as she was forced to become the head of household and solely responsible for my and Julie's upbringing. While raising us, she struggled considerably. She worked full time, commuted two hours round trip, received almost no child support and earned a meager income. Most of the time she barely made ends meet, and sadly, there were a few times she didn't.
As kids, my sister and I didn't really notice that we were poor or that our mom (Diane) was exhausted 24/7. It was normal for us to hangout at home on a Friday night playing with our Barbie dolls while my mom attempted to get through an entire episode of "Dallas", followed by "Falcon Crest". However, it never failed that she was asleep just after the opening of "Falcon Crest."
My mom's commitment and focus on my and Julie's lives was unwavering. As a young adult, I slowly began to realize (and appreciate) her dedication. One time, I remember noticing how many of my friends' divorced parents were remarried (including my own dad). I wondered how all these parents seemed to find new husbands and wives; I couldn't wrap my head around it. One has to go out on dates in order to find a new mate, right?
My mom was so focused and absorbed in our lives that she never had time to date. If she wasn't taking us to pompon practice, play rehearsal, show choir practice, piano lessons, tae-kwan-do lessons or baton practice, then she was helping us with book reports, science projects, homework, or cooking meals, tending to housework, going to Deacon meetings at church or, on those rare occasions when she could sneak it in, she was sleeping.
As the years passed, I continued to value and acknowledge all that she had done for us. However, never was it more apparent than when I became a mother myself. It was only then that I could fully grasp her courage, strength and determination. I don't pretend to know how she did it alone; as a matter of fact, I can't even imagine myself in her shoes. The thought terrifies me.
Daily, I find myself exhausted while running after my two young children, and daily I count down the minutes until Steve gets home from work so that he can help me (or so that I can pass them off to him and escape for a few minutes). Steve is not only my partner, but our financial provider. He makes it possible for me to stay home with the kids. Even under my fortunate circumstance, I sometimes find myself overly stressed, exhausted and stretched to the max.
When I feel like I just can't take it anymore, I reflect on my mom's situation when I was a kid. I wonder to myself: How did she do it? When did she EVER have a moment of "me" time? How often did she wish that she had someone to provide for the family so that she could stay home with us? How many times did she long for someone to pass us off to when we'd pushed her to the limit?
I know what it's like to find ultimate joy and happiness watching your children grow and thrive - watching them make choices based on what you've taught them and the values you've instilled. I also know what it's like to desperately need time to yourself to recharge your batteries. My mom never had that time and to this day it mystifies me...
I once asked my mom why she had given up her life for us. She looked at me with her warm and loving eyes and said, "I didn't give up my life for you and Julie; you were my life; you ARE my life." She explained how much she cherished all the hands-on moments, all of the weekends we didn't have enough money to leave the house to do something fun, all the moments we called out for her or ran to her when we hurt ourselves or someone else hurt us (when they broke our hearts). "That's what made us as close as we are. We're the 'Three Musketeers' and together we can do anything", she said.
My mom has molded me into the woman and mother I am today, and for that I will forever be grateful. She has taught me innumerable lessons and shared her infinite wisdom; to this day, she still continues to do so. Someone once told me that there are angels walking around disguised as humans; I believe my mother is one of them.
I was blessed the moment I was placed in to her arms; I've been held and protected every day since. And now, my children and my sister's children have the opportunity to receive her love and learn from her wisdom. They couldn't be more fortunate. Watching Atia run into my mother's arms is priceless; I know exactly what she's feeling when surrounded by my mother's warm embrace; I've been there a million times, and there's no better place or feeling!
So, to all the single mothers who have dedicated their lives to their children and selflessly sacrificed their own personal needs, social life and countless other necessities - your efforts are not in vein and they don't go unnoticed (even if it takes nearly thirty years for your children to figure it out).
You are now, and will forever be, our unspoken hero. As a daughter and as a mother, thank you for everything you've ever done for us. HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!
A few months ago, my mom blogged for "Ay, Mama!". You can read what she said in, "Guest Entry: My Mom's Experience"