We all have a mother. She was there, the moment we were born.
Maybe she stayed. Maybe she was great. Maybe, just maybe, she made pancakes, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, even though peanut butter would give her hives. Maybe she gave you a bowl of grapes when she shipped your dog Skipper off to the pound because he was eating her flowers.
Maybe she would serve you hot cocoa on the open oven door, like it was a table, on cold mornings. (...which, by the way, doesn’t sound like a super safe idea to me. I think it sits somewhere between lawn darts and riding in the back of a pickup truck for fun.)
Maybe she would play fun games where you drew faces on your chin, and you could hang upside down over the edge of the bed and talk to each other for laughs.
Maybe sometimes she would make you a jumper with white eyelet fabric that tied as straps into bows on your shoulders. Perhaps you would fall asleep on her lap late at night in the car on the way home. No seatbelt, of course. Sitting in the front seat you might have drifted in and out of a soft slumber, while the radio was silent, and she talked in a low voice to your Dad.
Maybe sometimes in the summer she would pretend you were having a picnic, put your hair in pigtails and make orange slices with powdered sugar to eat on a blanket in the back yard.
Maybe, before she left, as best she could, she put together all the best memories in a scrap book. Your first Christmas. Your first snowman. She labeled it all. After all, they were probably photos she had taken. And she arranged them, perhaps, perfectly in chronological order. Starting at the beginning, going right up until the day she left.
And later, when you were older, if you decided to have kids, and you struggled to understand her decisions, potentially you could see how hard it might have been. In a time when women weren’t given a lot of opportunity. Maybe you could see how desperate she was to find another husband. So desperate that she would leave you alone, the one weekend every other week that you were able to spend with her. To go to a bar. To flirt with a man. To drink Coors Light.
It is possible, however, that you don’t understand. That every time you look at yourself in the mirror, you still see that little girl that wasn’t important enough to just stay. Sit still.
And then, maybe, you spend countless years in therapy. Rehashing why you really aren’t the girl that was told she wasn’t as pretty as she thought she was. You’re not the girl that was told she wasn’t as smart as she thought she was. You’re not the girl who was selfish because she wanted to spend an evening with her mom, just you and her.
But if you find yourself in any part of this situation, and you have two kids of your own, constantly wondering how you could possibly be a good mom to them given the example you had, hopefully you can redirect your focus to them. The crazy shit they say. Their dirty faces. Their insane yet brilliant ideas.
Maybe you beat yourself up because you weren’t the most patient mom when they were young. Maybe you blame your mom. Maybe you blame hers. Maybe you wish you could turn back time and fix it. Maybe you wish you could have appreciated how important and fun all those years were when you were so worried, scared, tired and sleep deprived. When they were so little.
Hypothetically speaking of course, perhaps on Mother's Day, you could find a moment, look at some baby photos. Maybe take in that piece of clay that looks like a turtle but is actually a dog. Maybe instead of beating yourself up for being the tired, short tempered, sometimes selfish, sometimes amazing mom that you are, you could congratulate yourself on making it this far. Because, maybe, you did learn a few good things from your mom. Maybe, despite all the shit, you can decide to focus on the good memories. Maybe all your kids need from you is to be there. To stay there. To sit still on a Saturday night. To watch a movie you’ve watched a thousand times. Maybe all they need to know is that you love them.
Perhaps all you need is to know is that they love you back.