Saturday, January 15, 2011

Mamma Mia

I've been thinking about my mom a lot lately. It's my own type of home sickness. It's not that I want to be back in my home town, I just want to be closer to my mom.

It wasn't always this way. I went through the growing pains of being at constant odds with my mom when I was a teenager.  We didn't agree on anything. Every piece of advice that she tried to give, I took as a direct insult. I realize, now that I'm a parent myself, that all she wanted to do was save me some heartache, to protect me. She was wise enough to see the outcomes of some of the positions I had put myself in, and I think tried to warn me. But I didn't listen. I knew everything then. And when things turned out the way she warned me they would, I brushed off her comforting advances. I couldn't admit I was wrong. Man I was stubborn.

My mom's way of dealing with my bullhead-ishness was to just close her mouth and not say anything. There were weeks when we hardly spoke. I know now that this was her way of letting me make my own mistakes, learn my own lessons. I hated it then. I once dyed a chunk of my bangs pink just to get attention (but that wasn't the reason at the time, I had made my own hair appointment, paid with my own money, I had called it independence.) I just happen to decide to do this when my mom and I were fighting. I remember sitting at the supper table, mom and I avoiding each others gaze, and my dad said, "Is your head bleeding?" Leave it to dad.

During my high school years, I always felt that I wasn't good enough. I think I harbored this grudge well into my 30s. I blamed my insecurity on her, feeling like I was involved in everything in high school, but that she always wanted more. I realize now that she saw a lot of potential, and just pushed. She wanted me to have everything she didn't. I just thought that she considered me a failure. She didn't. She just wanted me to reach my full potential.

I'm proud of my mom. I don't tell her often enough. It's like we've switched roles. I see the potential that she has, and sometimes feel that she lets people walk all over her. She's in her 60s now. She works for the American Cancer Society. It's a cause she truly believes in, and puts her heart in to. She used to smoke, a long time ago, and quit...cold turkey. Do you have any idea how hard that is? She advocates her cause to the government. She does way more than she gets credit for in her job because it is so near and dear to her heart. Just know, she lost her mother when she was just 21 to cancer, so this goes beyond a paycheck.

My dad was on a fast track to success when he was young, and then he suffered a stroke at the age of 45. Fluke thing. A piece of plaque broke off and hit his brain. He didn't smoke, he drank socially, and was a karate teacher--so in good physical health. It was a shock to all. My mom had to totally relearn her role. I remember being in the provide hotel rooms, and my mom putting her arms around me and sobbing. I never have felt so helpless in my life. She became the care taker when before, she didn't worry about anything. Dad took care of it all. I wish I had several pages just to dedicate to what she does on a day to day basis to take care of my dad. She sacrifices herself every single day. She lives in pain, because she knows that if she had the back surgery she needs, she would not be able to take care of my dad.

I think it became blatantly more obvious when I had kids what an incredibly special person she is. She is so amazing. She absolutely adores her grandsons. And I have to say that my first child came about by circumstances that would be hard for any mother to deal with. But you know what? She wrapped her arms around me (physically and metaphorically) and helped me through it. I never expected that of her.

I call her nearly every day. If I don't, I feel like I've forgotten something that I can't quite put my finger on. I need to tell her every little thing that the kids do, good and bad, just so I can hear her opinion. Yeah, she still treats me like I'm 16. She reminds me to do things that are blatantly obvious to do at my age, (you know, you should put those videos by the door so you remember to take them back and don't get any late fees.) I can't tell you how many times I've have rolled my eyes. She realizes this. She often says, "I know you're over 40, but I'm still your mom." Yes you are.

I find myself becoming more and more like her every day. If you would have told me that I would be just like my mom at age 17, I would have quit talking to you and crossed you off of my BFF list. But now, it's the best compliment you could pay me.

I don't even want to type this, because it would somehow be more real, but my mom will be 63 this next March. More and more I'm trying to prepare myself for the time that she may not be there. I can't. I can't imagine it at all. She has become my best friend, my confidant, the one person I can tell anything. What happens on that day that I dial her number and she isn't there? Seriously, I have no idea how to even image dealing with that. I can't picture my life without her. I just can't. I refuse.

We still have our differences. She still tries to parent my children when I have one idea and she has another. She still points out things that I need to change and I know I do, but it's just not on the same time table that she would like to see.

But the older I get, and think back to where she was at my age, I marvel at who she was, who she is now, and who she has become. She's beautiful. She's strong. She's smart. And I'm proud to say, she is my mother.

I love you mom. Beyond anything I could ever say. And I just want to say however ungrateful I was, you have taught me to be the person I am today and I can't imagine life without you.

My hero.

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