Archives for posts with tag: Mommy

This one is for my Mommy. That wasn’t what I was thinking this morning when I dragged myself up after a short sleep following a long day. I was thinking I needed to go vote early, but it was chilly and I had a raspy throat and there are all kinds of excuses. Then I thought again and KNEW I needed to go vote early.

I dressed in all white for the Suffragettes, which was kind of a random last minute decision. It’s not the kind of thing I usually do, but it seemed so right today. Then I realized it was also for my Mommy, who mostly dressed in white. photo.JPG

And for her paternal grandmother, who also dressed in white.Scan 2While driving to the election board for early voting, I suddenly found myself crying, once again something I’m not prone to doing while I’m on my way to vote. All these conversations I had with my mother came flooding back to me. Anyone who knew my mother knew how strong she was. I often wondered how in the world I was related to someone who was so much stronger than I ever felt.

I’ve written before about my mother’s childhood as the youngest of three children with a young widowed mother in the Depression. She didn’t really talk to me much about it until we were both older when our conversations deepened in the years before she died. As I working with non-profits or faced some of life’s greatest challenges, she would listen and then impart such wisdom based on her own experiences. She was a Republican who thought her husband did no wrong, but she was also a woman who could relate to so many things in the world. She surprised me time after time with her views on abortion, sexual harassment in the workplace, domestic violence, sexual preference, working women, racial inequity and a number of topics. Yes, we really discussed all of these issues over her final years. I don’t think she really changed, but I hadn’t really known what she thought. She was beginning to voice her own views based on her knowledge of what the world is really like. She was living a life of privilege after an early life of struggle and poverty and hard work. She didn’t forget what it was like – ever. In our personal conversations, she was very open minded and fair. I knew exactly what she would say to me this year. Exactly.

I’ve researched my ancestors and found a complete variety of experiences in my all white background. Some were poor, some were comfortable, some were wealthy. I think of my great-grandmother pictured above in her white dress who I find little about other than she was working as a maid for a family when she was fourteen. She became a fairly sophisticated woman in a small town. She read, went to the opera, had people over for discussions. My other great-grandmother on that side lived on a farm and ended up in a state home because there was no money and she was probably suffering from dementia or just extreme fatigue after a hard life.IMG_6970So I drove to the polls with a sudden rush of knowing how all the women in my family would vote today, even the ones who were never allowed to vote. I had a vision of having a discussion with all my ancestors on both sides, male and female, about the candidates in this election. I’m not sure how the men would vote really because they are from a different time and different generations. But, the women would know exactly who and what is going on. I felt that so strongly after my fifteen minute drive, which was an interesting feeling. I certainly hadn’t been thinking about any of them when I started out this morning.

I arrived at the election board and there was a line. I remembered why I thought this was a neat way to vote from when I did it a few years ago. Instead of my neighborhood voting place in a church where everyone pretty much looks alike, the election board had a line of people from all over town. I spotted a couple I know ahead of me, a couple who is wealthy, with people on both sides of them who obviously aren’t. It was a clear picture of our city on election day and it was nice.IMG_0157.jpgYou can see the line wound up and around the dumpster, although not too long. Beside us were the election officials, who were drinking coffee and talking.IMG_0158.jpgA man with a cane approached the line and they stopped him to show him where he could go so he didn’t have to stand in the longer line. He was most appreciative and they were very polite. Inside, there were sheriffs to tell us how to proceed and they were friendly and helpful and nice. Everyone was smiling, everything moved quickly and, even with a long ballot to hand mark, the whole thing took about 20 minutes. As I left, more elderly people, on walkers, canes and in wheelchairs, were entering through the other door. That was nice to see. They were making the effort to be there.

In an election like this, you look at the people around you and wonder how they are voting. It was hard to tell, thank goodness. I didn’t even presume to make a solid guess on anyone. It was a nice experience really.

So, I’ve voted, wearing white to honor my mother who was so surprisingly present with me today along with all the other ancestors who jumped into my head. This one’s for you, Mommy. IMG_0161.jpg

The only things that prepared me for being a Mommy were my own terrific mother and grandmothers and my ability to read anything I could on the subject. And my friends as we shared parenthood and its adventures together. I was one of the first of my friends to have a baby and I was still in college, graduate school, so I hadn’t been around any babies. I was the oldest child in my family, but we were close enough together that I didn’t remember anything about taking care of them.

I was a novice with a Better Homes & Gardens Baby Book propped open on the changing table to show me what to do. I was a good student, so I guess I approached it that same way. It was funny at the time and funnier now that I’ve had four children and eight grandchildren. That’s the first thing you’d better learn – to laugh at yourself. My husband and I often would look at each other and burst out laughing at the absurdity of it all.

A fantasy book I wanted to write while in the thick of motherhood was going to start “I had no idea how much shit I was going to handle in my lifetime…” I meant that literally and figuratively. To be more polite, let’s change that to messes of one sort or another. There’s the messy bottoms, faces, and vomit at the bottom of that mess pile. We can throw in the pet messes along with that – dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits, chameleons. What else did we have? Then there are just messes that kids make. How many Legos have I picked up in my lifetime? Star Wars characters with their itsy bitsy guns? Blocks, books, balls of all kinds, shoes, socks…it goes on and on. Some of my kids were neat and some were messy. A couple lived their teen years in rooms so bad that we just closed the door – I’d learned not to pick up for them by then. There were cooking messes…

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and dirt and mud, especially when I had a soccer goalie daughter who didn’t mind wallowing in the muddy goal. I never seemed to have towels in the car to get her home.

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And then there were life messes to clean up. Hurt feelings, anger, bad tempers, broken hearts, disappointments. You grit your teeth and pick up the physical messes. You gird your heart to take care of life’s breaks and falls.

Being a Mommy was the best thing that ever happened to me…still. I’ve been through the worst of it and the best of it and would do it all again. That would be in another lifetime…I’ve earned my stripes in this one. My son called me Mom and my girls call me Mommy. My daughter-in-law calls me Karen. They’ve grown up to be wonderful adults and parents and I’m so proud of them and for them.

Being a Mommy is a great class that never stops teaching you about yourself. You learn how far you can be pushed before you break into anger, laughter, or tears. You laugh a lot at the adorable things your children and grandchildren do and say and at yourself along the way. You are angry at yourself, at them, at others when they do the wrong thing or someone wrongs them. You learn that life isn’t fair, your children aren’t perfect, you can take on way more than you think. You learn that you cry for them, with them, and when they accomplish something big or small. I’ve cried through some pretty silly school programs. It could be that the most uncontrollable tears of all are the ones of pride.

Most of all you learn that your heart is way bigger than before they came into it. You learn that it swells with pride and a love you never understood before. You learn that it can be broken and that they help it heal.

This Mother’s Day weekend, I rejoice in the lessons this Mommy has learned. I remember with gratitude the love that I was surrounded with from my own Mommy and grandmothers and aunts. I send much love to the precious Mommies in my family who make me so proud of them and their children.

And love to all Mommies out there. Have fun, be proud of what you do and laugh at yourself with joy! Happy Mother’s Day!