As the week went by, posting stories about my mom...I was making a list of other things that popped into my head that I must blog about but didn't fit into mom week. Frivolous things, funny stories, statistics, ramblings. My usual fare.
But before I get to any of those (and those..only if I can figure out where I placed that list) it's important for me first to get to my dad. You see, when my sister sent me her letter to mom this past Wednesday, she made my inner Finn squirm. For as much as I ramble on and on and have posted these past 2 years...I don't feel like I've ever shared so much as what she did in her one letter. And it kept me up that night. For thru and thru, I'm a stereotypical don't want to talk about personal things Finn.
But now it's out there - and that's not a bad thing, I only squirmed for 11 hours. But to be fair, I now need to give the other side. Callie had asked in the comments, well, where's your dad? And I answered her privately, but that's not enough.
Because I'm very much my father's daughter every bit as I'm my mother's daughter.
And while that whole time period ripped my very heart out, at the same time...it made me very much the person I am today, and I commend the way my parents handled it all, if separation can be commended.
I was a teenager at the time, in my final years of high school and at that time I was all about me. Wanting to lash out at somebody, I chose my dad and to this day I'm ashamed of myself. I gave him the silent treatment. If he was in the room..I walked out. If he drove up the driveway, I drove away. I wanted to hurt somebody like I'd been hurt, and he was my target. Then one evening I came home at midnight curfew, and there he was, waiting up for me - and he said two words. "Sit Down" And I was cornered. And I sat, and I listened and ranted and cried and raved for over two hours. And it was the best thing he ever could have done, that lone incident taught me so much.
There are two sides of every story and each side deserves their say I love each of my parents equally Listen and don't prejudge Don't intentionally hurt those you love
I'm very much my father's daughter. We share the same practical nature, common sense approach and the raw side of my humor.
My dad's a no nonsense dad. He raised me that I could do anything that I set my mind to. He raised me the same as he did the boys. He taught me to mow the lawn at 10, to fix the cars, to change my oil. I often give him a jingle if I'm having a hard time deciphering a situation or struggling with some numbers. He's my other rock. He'd drop everything to be by my side if I called.
And he's all about common sense and practicality. His main concern when my parents split up was that we kids not feel like we had to visit him, but that we knew he was there if we needed him. He writhed at the thought of custodial visits as he didn't want us to feel like we had to, or to have designated days when we'd rather be spending the night at Suzy's birthday party. Common sense. So, thru the years, he did his very best to live as close as possible to my mom and the kids. At times it was walking distance, at times it was just a town away. And during times of bad economy and lack of jobs...it was too far away, but he was/is always there.
Except when he stopped over for coffee about 3 1/2 months ago and realized it was my due date. Man..he lighted out of here so fast it made my head spin. "No time, gotta go" as I'm waddling down the driveway with with his coffee..."but dad, you didn't even drink all your coffee" "Gotta go!"
hmph. And then he went to my brothers for 8 hours. Boy, did I let him have it. Teasingly. Because, even then, had I needed him or asked...he'd have been there, right thru the thick of it.
I pray dear Jesus Come walk with me Help me to raise my family. Help me to teach them right from wrong When I grow weary Help me be strong
I pray dear Jesus, stay by my side; I need you always as my guide Help me to teach my children too, How they can always have faith in you
I pray dear Jesus, come hold my hand And lead me to the Promised Land Please gather all my family To be with Thee eternally
I remember so vividly when my mother wrote these words. I also remember, so clearly, sitting at the piano trying to match her singing to the notes, so that she could put it to music.
And everytime I hear these words...I'm brought back to that time, and it's only just recently that I can get thru these three short, but full, verses without crying - remembering how difficult those years were. How - again - strong my mom was/is. This was her only prayer - that she would be given the strength, a strength that every mother wishes and prays for...to raise her children to learn right from wrong.
And as I sing these words now to my babies before bed, I have that same mother's prayer.
My mom lives 550 miles and three pee stops north of me. But thanks to the beauty that is modern technology - we talk via free cell phone minutes, or email...nearly every single day. I need my mom, of that there is no doubt.
She has a way of helping me get to the core of an issue when I can't see it myself. Just this past week I called her up when I was feeling so completely and totally overwhelmed with everything - Pa's overtime, the boys not sleeping, so much on my own plate that I've commited myself to. And I whined. Just the same as when I did when I was five.
Mooooooooooooooooooooooom *sniff* I can't do it all, please quit your job and sell your home and come and live with us and help me. (insert pouty lip and big blue begging eyes here)
But since that's not feasible right now, instead - she helped me to see my problem in a different light. My mom has a way of not giving me a direct answer, but rather..making me realize it. When she was finally able to get a word in between my wallowing self pity she made this small comment, "at least you get to work from home"
She is so completely and totally correct and I wasn't seeing that part of it last week.
I get to work at home - while playing Scrabble with my mother back and forth online all day. Well...my turns lately have been few and far between but that's a whole other story.
I get to work at home, and the fact is the coin does keep our Wendy in clothes. I can wear my pj's all day long and do work that creatively I enjoy. And it took my mom to remind me how good that really is. And it was like a calm came over me and my mommy made it all better.
That's just one of many many times when my mother has steered me in the right direction without telling me the answer directly but making me look into my own heart. She's always done this - and I appreciate it so much.
Today's post comes from my sister. When I began mom's week a few days ago, Terri had put in the comments, "can I piggyback that??" and we emailed back and forth and came up with the idea of her being a guest on my blog today.
And so the week went, I was my witty self, remembering silly stories here and there...and last evening my sister's entry came to me in the form of a word doc. As I sat down and read it I had a few thoughts. 1) wow....you can write too! 2) I wholeheartedly agree 3) Get your own blog, I want to read more and 4) how am I going to follow that????
So here it is, from my sister
My mom is strong.
No, she doesn’t lift weights.Not that I know of anyway… Do you lift weights, mom?Haha, didn’t think so.That’s okay, I still love you -- jiggly arms and all.
Strong-willed is what I mean.Strength of spirit.
You see, growing up we had what, in my mind, was the perfect family.Dad, mom, kids, dog, big house with a great yard.Sandbox, wonderful neighborhood, interesting neighbors.Good friends, close relatives, family dinners, regular bedtimes.The works.We had it.
And then somewhere, over the course of many years I’d imagine, something happened in my parents’ marriage.I suppose it unraveled as many unfortunately do nowadays.And our family and lives as we knew them were sent into a tailspin.I always say that nobody gets married expecting things not to work out.But I also believe that some are certainly aware of the possibility, given statistics nowadays.We’re always reminded of the divorce rate.I’m constantly encountering moms and dads exchanging kids and suitcases in the corner McDonalds on a Friday night.It’s kind of sad, really.But it happens.And couples do their best, hopefully, to make an amicable arrangement for the kids’ sake.
Well, I’d place a wager that my mom never even thought that there was a possibility of our family breaking apart.Not a chance.Not a concern.Would never happen to us.
And yet it did.And out of nowhere, suddenly, amidst raising five children who spanned 16 years in age, she had to immediately become a single working mom.No planning, no preparation, no college degree to fall back on.Just dive in and make it happen, and you’d better do it right because there’s no turning back.No pressure, right?
Now I’m wise enough to understand that decisions and events like this involve both people equally.But I know and fully believe that my mom did what she felt in her heart was best at the time.I cannot imagine how grueling it was, to come to that decision given all of the factors involved.But she did.Because she felt it was right.And that takes strength.Because the journey that now lay ahead of her was not going to be an easy one.
And so from that point forward in her life, my mom reinvented herself.She had to make so many difficult decisions along the way, balancing what was right for her, her family, her children.And she forged ahead through incredible adversity, with her strength of spirit intact.
There was a time in my teenage years when I used to believe that all of my independent characteristics came from my father.My mom and I didn’t always get along during those years.We argued and fought a lot, as teenage girls and their mothers often do.And so in my anger, there was resentment.
But now that I’ve grown, and relaxed, and matured, and become wiser… I know that so much of my strength comes from her.Because she did it.She survived the storm.And through it all, she has become an incredible role model for me.Someone who is strong spirited, creative, thoughtful, sensitive, and optimistic.She finished the job of raising us all, and looking at my siblings I can say that she did a fine job.And that’s so much more than could have ever been expected.
Now make no mistake.I would imagine that she’s reading this thinking to herself that she wasn’t very strong at all.That she spent so many nights through so many years crying into her pillow.But there’s something beautiful in that for me.Even though there were times that it felt like things couldn’t get worse, tears were enough to fend off the fear for her and get up to make things happen again.Which she did, repeatedly, without fail.And we could depend on her.Because she never stopped being our mom.
So even though to this day we have our differences in opinion, our own independent spirits, I do believe that my mom did an amazing job in raising me.In raising us.And I thank you for that, mom.You are one strong woman.
It was a few weeks ago in church, Easter Sunday in fact, when Linda came up to me and confessed to reading my blog (hi linda!) followed with "and I had no idea that you were so funny!"
You see, in my real life - a lot of people don't know that, and I think it's kind of like that with my mom too. It's one of those things that you realize about us after you've known us for awhile. I liken it to having opened all your Christmas presents, thinking you're done and then awhile or so later realizing that the best one of all was hidden way back there almost completely hidden under the tree skirt. Kind of, wow...she's all that and she's funny too! Bonus!
And in real life, you have to be paying attention. My mom will be sitting there all nice and peaceful like, quilting on something or another while listening to the conversation, quietly adding her two bits when all of a sudden she slings a zinger into the conversation and yet her posture hasn't changed a bit. Those that don't know her will do a doubletake, while those that have been around for awhile and are accustomed to her sly ways will be in tune and think, haha...she did it again!
I love that I share the same humor as my mom.
She's coming down next week and I'm looking forward to that shared understanding. We'll see things that humor us...perhaps while we're driving around...and we glance towards each other at the same time and start out quiet...just a gentle snicker and within minutes we can be doubled over with our eyes watering. We're totally in tune that way. We can share a joke without even saying a word. Love that, and wish she wasn't so far away.
Love you mom...see you soon bring that dog on a pullstring, hehe, the kids would have a blast
in honor of Mother's Day - this week's posts are going to be all about my mom. Stories, memories, a photo or two......
My mom smoked Kool cigarettes
And she made me buy them.Honest truth.
I keep thinking I need to do a scrapbook album titled, “When I was a kid!”
Cuz when I was a kid…parents could send their 8/9 year old kids to the store to buy their smokes.And they did.
We lived exactly a block from the closest cigarette hot spot.We had the corner house…and down the street on the next corner was Pat’s Market.I walked there daily it seemed.
Me in my pigtails, shoelaces dangling, polyester matching outfit that my ma made for me (there’s another post there) two paper bills clenched in my grubby paw.Smokes were 75 cents.My dad smoked Pall Mall – one pack for dad, one pack for ma.
Those were the days man.I was born with pneumonia…did I ever tell you that?Weak lungs, bad sinuses, the works.And both parents smoked in the house – everyone did back then.We had those ashtrays that felt like bean bags – kinda shift them around a bit.The baby would end up playing with the ashes…..ah, memories.
Anyway…back to the story.So – it was often my task to walk to the corner store and buy cigarettes for the ‘rents.We must have been educated in school at some point about the dangers of smoking because I distinctly remember going thru a period wherein I was NOT going to take that walk to the store. I’d rebel, I’d stomp my feet, I’d relay the evils I’d learned that very day in school
And 10 minutes later with my tail between my legs I’d trudge.
Past crabby old Mr. Holmstroms. Past the guy in the blue house who always stuck cheetos up his nose
Past Zube’s – where I often detoured yelling up the steps, “HEY ZUBE…WANNA COME STORE WITH ME???”Zube’s lived on the second floor and yelling was very much required Past Ina’s – who was forever scowling
Over the bit of crumbled sidewalk that was forever scraping my multi-layered scabbed knees Past the bar – 1 of 9 on our street – we bragged about that and to the store, tender still in hand.
They knew me at the store – when they saw that $1.50 in my hand – they knew I was on a smoke run, not a penny candy run – and they’d turn around and grab the regulars, and smack them on the counter.I still remember that sound, I recognize it immediately when I’m at the store now behind someone buying smokes.It has a certain *thwack* to it.
It took me a few months, but eventually I had a bit of a deal going on with the ladies at the market. Fifty cent pieces were pretty common at that time.I remember when I worked at the family hardware; there was always one or two in that far left cubby.So the way my mom and dad sweetened the deal was if I were to get a 50 cent piece for change…I could keep it. In hindsight, I figure this was their guilt money, and it didn’t take me long at all to work this out with the clerks at the market.They always had a coin waiting special, just for me, so my underage run was nearly always profitable.I remember when my brother Dennis was old enough to begin toddling runs to the corner and my small income was in jeapordy I had to begin volunteering services so as to beat him to the coin.“Mom, you out of cigarettes yet?I can run store for you if you want”
I’d return home with that little brown bag and two packs of smokes and mom would ask, “where’s the change” and I’d show her that big ol shiny 50 cent piece and grin…hehe, look ma, I got lucky again!
My mom, she doesn’t smoke anymore, last I heard.And she quit on her own, didn’t need no book.She’ll probably sneak a social now and then if you’re game, but for the most part..she’s quit.And that’s Kool.Love you, mom!