We learn how to be a mother from our own mothers. Everything from the simple, how to kiss a boo-boo to serving up tough love is all first taught to us through example. Our mother teaches us about love, nurturing, and kindness.
My grandmother was the product of war and oppression – an immigrant who fled her own country out of fear. Who witnessed atrocities of injustice and inhumanity at the young age of 8. These tragic events created a woman, who in her own turn, transferred those fears and anger onto her own child. My mother, out of the strongest of desires to not repeat the errors of her mother, went in the opposite direction.
My mother didn’t know about unconditional love, safety, fearlessness or warmth but she did her best to give my siblings and I that very kind of childhood. A childhood from the pages of a magazine. We had homemade costumes, and cookies. She hosted themed parties that would rival anything you saw on Pinterest. She packed lunches and drove us to activities, and helped with homework and hired tutors and attended concerts and ALWAYS picked up the phone. My friends would often collect at my home and tell me that they wished my mother was their mother.
For 37 years my mother held her emotional breath – not allowing any of the negative thinking or abuse seep out of her mouth or her behavior. She held it in. All of it. The pain, her mother’s voice, the negative cloud of her own upbringing was kept sharply at bay until all of her three children left the house.
My mother has grown weary of fighting the demons. She has faltered and now they nip at her heels — they crowd her.
As a mother myself now – sometimes struggling with the right things to say or do for my kids. Hearing words come from my mouth that I wish I could take back – seeing and doing things that I wish I hadn’t done I can’t help but admire my mother even more.
How did she do it? How did she fight her most basic nature for so long? How did she not allow those demons to pass?
My mother spent several days in the hospital this week – she’s older, more frail, her weaknesses all raw and exposed. Her nerves frayed and easily agitated. But I think I admire her more now than I ever have. It is in her weakest moments, when the demons raise their heads, that I recognize the strength that she carried for so long. The battle that she waged within herself.
And I want her to know, on this Mother’s Day, that she won. I know she hurts and has regrets and I know all that pain is with her everyday now. But she raised three children who know about unconditional love, and kindness and charity and nurturing and friendship. And we in turn are raising seven children who are growing in love and kindness and charity. So perhaps her life was sacrificial, but those same demons will no longer follow our family line. They have been stopped. She might have lost her own personal fight, but she won the war.