because of her

Since I've been digging through this history of mine trying to make some peace with it all I've realized that I have overlooked someone, my mother. Sometimes I focus so much on the pain my father inflicted on me that I forget the many many years my mom spent trying to protect me from the inevitable heartaches she herself experienced. I love my mom not only because she is my flesh and blood, not only because she spent 36 hours in labor trying to bring me into this world. I love her because she was the shield or at least tried to be, that stood in the forefront of my life taking the brunt of all the blows. Of course she couldn't protect me as well as she hoped but honestly I do not give her enough credit.

My mom is the perfect definition of a self made woman. She married my dad two days before her 18th birthday. She lied to the judge and told him she was already of legal age, that's how much she loved my dad. Little did she know that she was signing up for a life of uncertainty. She survived his infidelity, his verbal and physical abuse, his alcoholism. She hid her demons from my brother and me so that the person we saw seemed in control. When I think back I can remember the times when her fragile facade was in danger of revealing the cracks beneath the surface. I remember when she kicked my father out for good that she lived on cheetos and jelly beans for almost a year because it was the only food she could stomach. I remember being angry at her for making my dad leave, for breaking our family apart, when in reality she was the glue that held it together. We as children are so naive aren't we? Of all the memories I have of my mother the one I seem often to forget or to place importance on is the night my mom stood between my drunken father and me as he tried to force his inebriated affections around my little body. I ran outside to escape him, he ran after me, my mother followed. It was pouring down rain and I jumped inside my dad's blue Ford truck and locked the doors. As my dad tried unlocking the door, keys fumbling in his unsteady hands, my mother grabbed the keys and threw them. I'd forgotten the next moments partly out of guilt, partly out of fear. My dad grabbed my mom's arm and twisted it, he threw her on the ground, I screamed and ran to her as fast as I could. My dad stood there unable to speak. I suppose he knew what he did and for one of the very few times in his life - he felt regret. I remember my mom driving to the emergency room steering the car with one arm, her wrist was broken in two places. I sit here and try to remember what came after those moments but I can't. My mind rolls around in the blank spaces as if the film has been spliced and the next things I remember are years later. God it hurts to remember pain doesn't it? I think at this moment what hurts me more is not the pain but the guilt over not being able to recognize how strong my mother was. She must have been scared out of her mind yet for her child, she remained whole - at least on the outside.

After my mom divorced my dad she worked as a secretary and mail room clerk. At night and on weekends she put herself through college, obtained a Marketing degree and eventually worked her way up to be nominated the first woman vice president in the same company she'd been an hourly employee. She didn't do it for herself. She did it so my brother and I could have a life that had some resemblance of normal. Although I often look back on my childhood and consider it anything but normal, I really didn't have it as bad as it could have been. When I hold my daughter, when I promise to chase away the monsters and protect her with all that is inside of me, I feel my mother's love bubbling to the surface, seeping through my pores to all those that touch me. Because of her - I'm not as broken as I could be. Tomorrow is my mom's birthday and the gift I want to return to her is my gratitude.


  1. Michelle said...
    I know that I do not alwasy give my mom the gratitude that she deserves. I remember my dad waking me to sit on the couch and watch him beat the daylights out of my mom in his drunken stage. He always took my brother every where and did for him and my mom always tried to make that up to me with what little money she had that my dad gave her. When he told us that he was leaving, I helped him pack his bags. I am not sure what was more of a relief to me, not having to watch my mom suffer those beatings or not having to watch her try to make up for what he did not do for me. After he left, she was left uneducated and without a job. I watched her struggle though college and get a job. I can only imagine what it was like at her age to have to do that after being a stay at home mom all of those years. We have had our bad times and rarely see eye to eye, but I do praise her for all that she has done over the years.
    Caterpillar said...
    Oh wow. Your mother is an amazing, so so strong woman. I'm so glad that she was there to protect you in all the ways that she knew how. I can't imagine the pride that she must feel when seeing you and your husband and Alice.

    I am always filled such awe and respect for women who go through such awful times and afterward manage to pick up their lives and go to college while working and raising children. To me they are all such amazing heros, because I can't imagine the strength and determination and especially hope that they just always have around them.

    And also, thank you so very much for sharing that story. It's something that will stay with me and that I won't forget.
    e.e. said...
    Thank you, dear lady (as usual!!)for your thoughts and kind words on my blog. The topic of moms has come up and we have had similar upbringings -- yet with the 'good' (I use that term loosely) parent being switched.
    As you have done, I, too, am able to recognize how strong my dad was. To this day I question his still undying dedication to her.
    But then I realize that THAT is not what it is all about, is it?
    Bitterness and grief should be left on the floor, and far into the past.
    Heartfelt warmth and strength and love should be the focus -- and passed on, no matter what you can dig up, dig it up, hang onto it, and pass it on.
    Like you said to me, these are the legacies we should remember...that we should hold onto.
    NMAMFQLMSH said...
    I miss my mom.
    Glad to hear my cyber God child is kicking away.
    I see you,
    Anonymous said...
    Your going to have to find a pretty
    big gift bag for all that gratitude!
    Tell her I thank her for raising such a super cool human/beatiful woman:)

    Thanks for sharing ~
    kimmyk said...
    Oooohhh Happy Birthday to your momma!

    Sometimes it's hard to be a mom isn't it? Especially since we're moms now to see what our moms went through---it makes sense now-well some of it.
    keda said...
    :) And she must be so proud to see how you turned out.
    i'm glad you have a mother you can love so and appreciate. and who can give you inspiration in your life with your children now.
    great post darling. whether we learn through inspiration by or in spite of our mothers they always help us to shape our mothering.
    Christine said...
    healing hurts but hurting heals

    going thru the hurt allows me to be grateful for what I might not have seen at the time

    love you

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