My Mom was strict, but we don’t remember her that way. From the time we were small, we just knew it was best if we did as we were told, didn’t give lip, and stayed out of trouble. She rarely resorted to hands-on discipline because she had us under mind control early on. When the boat of good behavior sprung a leak, as it always will, she would start with a small glance in your direction. The glance said “stop it”. On the occasion that we failed to get the message and continued, we would get the full on big browns with the eyebrow arch. This said “Stop. It. Now. Or you will be sorry”. The look didn’t yell. The eyes didn’t bulge. But they meant business.
My Mom built my self-esteem, but I don’t remember her that way. She told us early on that we weren’t better than anyone else, but no worse either. She praised my accomplishments and encouraged me when I fell down to try, try again. She felt bad for me when it still didn’t produce the result I wished for. When there was nothing to say, she said nothing. She told us that while it was nice to be important, it was more important to be nice. We all grew to realize that even though we were all relatively average, we were special in our very average way. We were always good enough.
My Mom was a strong woman, but I don’t remember her that way. Although she faced hardships in her life, she didn’t lay down. Like all women, she knew that the best way to overcome a situation was to be flexible and adapt to a new challenge or environment. If adapting bothered her, we didn’t see it. If she had self-doubt, we didn’t see it. She didn’t show weakness, or need rescuing. She was solid as a rock without having to shout.
My Mom loved us every day, but I don’t remember it that way. She didn’t shower us with affection all day, didn’t helicopter around, cookie tray in hand, like Donna Reed. She respected us, told us the truth and was quick to share a laugh. She let us sit on her lap when we were teenagers. She sacrificed her own needs when we were too self-absorbed to notice. She reminded us often that she was our mother, but not our friend. She would be there for us even when we didn’t agree that we needed her. She would lay in traffic for us, but would kick us in the britches if we got too big for them.
My mom and I are now both adult women. We have now shared in the hardships and struggles of marriage and motherhood. I see her differently now, as if sharing her path has lifted the veil. I feel like I finally know her as a woman instead of just as my Mother. And I think now, I call her friend..if she'll let me.