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Friday, November 27, 2009

Day #14 - I am Thankful for My Mother

Yes...I'm totally late...I should have been done with this thankful crap yesterday, but I can't forget about the last two things that I am thankful for...can't stop now...must finish something in my life!

That being said, I'm thankful for my mother. Above all, I can say that my mother is a hard worker. She and her four sisters and one brother worked through their childhood on a dairy farm in upstate NY. They had chores every single day (try that on the average teenager today). She graduated from high school at the top of her class (salutatorian...don't ask for the story...you'll get it) and went to a state school for Music. She met my father in college and married him shortly after. She got into a career in education and had three kids. My parents divorced after 10 years of marriage and I don't think she saw it coming. It really changed her life. We were 2, 4, and 6 years old.

Rather than crawling in a hole, she chose to do what she could to make our lives as good as possible. It's almost like she went into survival mode. Most of my memories about her working so hard take place in my teenage years...right when I stopped appreciating it. She not only taught elementary music, but she did private piano lessons after school, and worked at a catering hall on the weekends. Yes, she was gone a lot. She was tired a lot. She missed us a lot.

During this time, my grandmother (my mother's Mom), was diagnosed with breast cancer and my mother took every opportunity to go upstate to see her. I remember thinking what a pain in the ass it was and wondering why she would make such an effort. It was a looooong trip with three kids. She would work all week, complete her piano lessons, waitress an event on Friday night, and if we weren't going to my Dad's house for the weekend, we'd pile in the car on Saturday morning and make the trek upstate. I never understood it until I became of an age where it made perfect sense. Why wouldn't you try to spend as much time as possible with the woman who gave you life? Especially when it's toward the end of hers. It makes more sense than anything I've ever thought about...I'd do exactly what she did in her place.

The funniest thing about our relationship is that I always declared that I wanted to be nothing like her...that I wouldn't work more than one job or work after my job. I never wanted to work that hard (I was a pretty lazy teenager). As it turns out, I waitressed my way through my Master's Program and beyond, tutor privately after teaching, and wouldn't hesitate to do either of those jobs at any moment if it meant putting my family in a better situation. As much as I said I wouldn't be like her, I'm pretty much like her and I'm totally proud of that fact. She teases me about it all the time!

She didn't have help with us...what I mean by help is she didn't have her family close and felt guilty relying on friends. She said that when she first got divorced, many of her friends dropped her...she wasn't sure why, but it made her really sad. What a person needs in that time is support and she didn't get a lot of that. Her family (4 sisters) still lived upstate, but rarely (if ever) came to visit. I'm not trying to get sympathy for her, but rather spotlight the fact that she made it on her own. There are days that I put the twins to bed and I think, "how the hell did she do it?" I'll recall stupid teenage fights that she would referee or the endless mornings that she had to put water on my face to get me out of bed or simply drive us all over the place. How did she do it? I can't remember her missing a school event, a concert, or an opportunity to see one of her kids shine. She loved that crap!

As we have grown up, she's done her best to be there for everything. We know that physically isn't possible, but she makes it to most of the things that make a difference. She travels to Boston and Nebraska and Baltimore to see us and spend time with us. She is wonderful for my kids and loves them a ton! The fact that she can call at any point during the day and know what is happening in my house is great. I worry a lot about her too. She always encouraged us to move off of Long Island because it was too crowded/expensive/crazy. We all did...now we're all over the place though! It would be really nice if we were closer.

I know she looks back with a lot of regret for the things that she missed, but I wish she would concentrate more on what she was there for. That's what really made the difference every single time. She's retiring next year and is contemplating what to do. She'd like to move off of Long Island, but doesn't know where to go. She'd like to be near her kids, but since we're on opposite ends of the Earth, that makes for a difficult decision. We'll see what happens, but one thing is for sure...she's always welcome in my little corner of the World! I love her more than anything in the world and I am so proud to call her one of my best friends. She is a wonderful woman and I could only try to live up to what she has done...two daughters with successful careers (after advanced degrees) and a son who is a co-owner of a successful company. She is so proud and happy...after all the work, I think she's happy. I love you, Mom and I'm thankful for you!!!