In the ongoing saga of me failing to live up to my full daughter potential, when submitting my article for last week’s deadline I did not realize that it was the week of Mother’s Day and I did not get to properly honor Queen Gail like I had planned. So this week I am doing my due diligence and taking this time to let the light that is my mother shine into your lives a little.
My mom grew up under some of the most unsavory circumstances a person could imagine. Without diving too deep into her upbringing, because that is her story and not mine to tell, she was the middle of 7 children in a very poor family who mostly worked in tobacco to earn a living. They moved around frequently and when she was small one of their houses actually burned down and they lost what meager possessions they did have. Mom left school early to help her family financially once she reached legal working age, but when I was a child she went back and earned her GED, which is just one of the many things that blows my mind about this woman. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to study and re-learn concepts she had left behind almost 15 years earlier all while being a new mom, but somehow she did it.
All through school Mom worked 2 jobs to help support our little family and to be able to assist her own widowed mother. Because my parents were so integral in the care of my grandparents and money was so tight, this meant we didn’t get a lot of vacations or luxuries that I enviously watched my friends enjoy. Yearly trips to the beach weren’t even an option for discussion in my house, and I’m ashamed to say it made me somewhat resentful. I neglected to appreciate the fact that my mother would give me her last dollar so I could go back-to-school shopping with my friends and buy the “cool” clothes at American Eagle while she shopped for herself at thrift stores and WalMart for just the bare essentials. Or the entire year she carried boxes of candy bars to her second job at the grocery store to fundraise enough money for me to go to Orlando on the trip of any 12-year-old’s dreams. Instead of thanking her for all she did for me and our family, I would sulk in front of my grandmother’s tv for an hour after school every day while my mom helped tidy her house and ensure she had dinner on hand for the night. She did this every day after putting in 8 hours at work and after we left she would go home to clean our house and cook dinner for us in addition to taking me to whatever extracurriculars I had going on.
As tight as money was, there was never one time I can recall being denied something from my parents that I wanted or needed, and I realize in hindsight that is because they sacrificed their own desires for mine. Momma never wanted me to endure the painful upbringing she’d had and never wanted me to have to live with the memories she surely still buries to this day. She pushed me to always do well in school, reading to me from the time I was born and making sure I was in accelerated classes and college prep programs that would give me a better chance at a free education. When college finally rolled around, even though my mom had never used a computer in her life, she asked friends and family to help her fill out the FAFSA and make sure I was enrolled and accepted to ETSU. Walking across that stage with my bachelors in May 2009, my thoughts were “IM FREE! NO MORE SCHOOL,” while my mom finally got to see her dream come true. I wish I could go back and re-do that day, because it should have been HER who was taken out for a celebration dinner.
As important as my mother was to my childhood, having her in my life as an adult has been even more valuable. When I screwed up and got arrested at 22-years-old, she answered the phone and bailed me out and, although she was crying with disappointment, she never stopped loving me. When I bought my house and didn’t have long enough history at my current employment, she trusted me enough to co-sign the mortgage. Every time I’ve left town, which has been more trips than I could ever count, she has taken care of my dogs without a single complaint while her and Dad have taken no more than 3 vacations in the last decade. She’s let me scream and take out misguided anger and when my heart has been shattered into a million pieces she’s wiped my tears and picked me up off the floor.
Sometimes I get so frustrated with my mom. I feel it’s hard to connect and communicate with her because in certain respects we are very different people. But then something happens and I am reminded of how truly blessed I am to have this woman as a living part of me. I talk with someone who had a truly horrific childhood because their parents didn’t care or in some cases they have lost or maybe never even knew their mothers. Or I put pen to paper like I am now and I am smacked with just how much my mother has sacrificed for me out of love and nothing else and it makes me realize what an ungrateful turd I am sometimes. I want to someday be able to re-pay her for everything she’s done, although that’s basically impossible. And the best thing about Gail, and any other mother who loves their child, is that all she wants is my love and happiness in return. Being a mother is truly a thankless job, but a job my mother has executed flawlessly. If you have good mothers, I hope you all treated them to a special Mother’s Day, and as for my own, I love you Momma and can never thank you enough.