Sunday, May 11, 2014

I'll Always Love My Momma (She's My Favorite Girl)

I remember being in 8th grade when my Mom had my youngest brother.  When I went into her room to visit for the first time,  she was crying in pain, and I went screaming down the hall for a nurse.  She later had "one of those talks" with me, saying that childbirth pain is hard but beautiful and you forget it quickly.  I wasn't big on the pain threshold back then and thought "I'm never having kids if it hurts."

Then there was the night in high school when I was forced to endure going to my other two brothers' Pop Warner football games.  When one brother got speared, the doctors thought he might have a cracked rib, so they put him in an ambulance to be x-rayed.  Mom went with him while Dad stayed behind as a coach. In the next game, that younger brother got clipped and hurt his knee.  As he was put into the second ambulance, the first one pulled in. Mom got out of one ambulance and into the next to go to the hospital again.  I thought to myself "I'm never having boys. They get hurt too much.  Just girls."

Never say never. Three sons later and I've had my fair share of pain-both from labor and their growing up. And as I think about how fast the past 28 years have gone since I first held that newborn, I wonder if I did a good job as a mom.

Compared to my mother, I'm a total loser. She made home cooked breakfasts every morning and you didn't need a calendar because you knew the day by what you were served, like eggs on Tuesday or pancakes on Friday. She made ice cubes from Kool-Aid to put in our thermoses to keep our drinks cold. She had dinner on the table every night at five o'clock and always cooked a second item if one of us didn't like what she made.  The ironing board was always up, ready to press our non-permanent press clothes. She polished our school shoes and set my hair every Saturday night on Spoolies so I would have curly hair for church.

Compared to my mother-in-law, I pulled the short end of the stick too. With a husband who was a traveling salesman during the week and a handicapped son, she was still able to iron every stitch of clothes the other three wore, bake bread, get her GED and college degree, and when I entered the picture, she would whip up crudites and appetizers with no effort at all so we could sit and chat.

I guess I did some things right.  I was a den mother, soccer coach, CCD or Sunday School teacher, and class mother.  I made sure they got their vitamins in the morning and their immunizations. I may have forced them to go to church and be altar servers, but I believed in showing them my God and letting them decide what they wanted to do as adults.  My biggest joy was making the holidays special for them with Easter scavenger hunts, lots of July 4th fireworks and plenty of Christmas...decorations, food, movies and gifts.

But when Wingman's disease took over his life and the wheels fell off the proverbial wagon, did I do enough for them or did I hide my head in the sand? I put myself in their shoes, and think that I didn't do enough to insulate them from the anger, the insults and the ugliness. There were too many spoiled dinners, too much holiday drama, and even too many baseball games that I drove him to that he never should have been in public for-just because I didn't want to deal with his anger myself. When they were most impressionable as teenagers and all of this was happening, was I the mom they would want their wives to be, or not?

Yesterday was my second Mother's Day since he died, and the first one I spent alone for the greater part of the day.  I experienced emotions ranging from sadness, disappointment and regret to better ones like happiness and peace.  I had dinner with my mother and a nice conversation with my mother-in-law.

I thought about all the women who would have loved to have spent the day with their now deceased moms.  I said a little prayer for a few special friends who have lost a child.  I celebrated the godmothers, step moms and surrogates who tried to make a child's life better in some small way.  And I counted my blessings for a drawer still filled with Mother's day cards filled with coupons for hugs, washing the dishes and not fighting with their brothers.  I plan to use them all someday.

This song played through my head all day.  I've seen Mame many times-on Broadway, in local theater and even as our high school play.  Mame laments when her nephew Patrick turns his back on her and the way she raised him to marry a woman with a cultured background. She wonders if she could have done a better job. In the end, he realizes she did her best, and that's all we can hope for-that our kids know we tried.

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