Monday, July 22, 2024

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Mothers As Role Models

If you were like me, you grew up watching Doris Day and Rock Hudson movies.  I just knew when I married, I’d marry a gorgeous, charming man like Rock Hudson, with a wonderful, quirky neighbor like Tony Randall living next door.  I was filled with hope and anticipation at what lay ahead for me.  My adult life would be a wonderful adventure, not like my dismal childhood.

My father suffered a nervous breakdown in the war (WWII).  He would explode in violent episodes at the smallest crisis.  My sister and I lived in constant terror.  We loathed him for his violent out burst. As we grew older (20’s and beyond), his anger was no longer directed at us, which allowed me the opportunity to see another side of my father; a humorous, gentler man then what I knew as a child.   Yet my father was never able to show love the way a daughter craves love.  My father never allowed me in to his world, so he remained a stranger to me his entire life.  

When I was in my early 40’s and going through a divorce, my father phoned me.  The fact my father picked up the phone to call me was a momentous event, let alone the fact he contacted me three times in a six month period.  My father and I never discussed anything personal, we concentrated on the weather or politics.  But this one time out of blue,  my father said “I love you”, when hanging up.  The words left me in total shock.  I sat there unable to move for several minutes, trying to rationalized what I had heard.  Was it true?  Did my father actually say I love you?  Or did I just imagine it?  It was the only time my father ever said he loved me.  My father died this year at age 87.

My mother was pampered and spoiled by her parents, who loved her dearly.  She received a college degree when most women settled for being housewives.  My mother married my father with the belief she’d enjoy a wonderful, rich social life, which never manifested it’s self.  Instead my mother realized quickly that marrying my father was a horrible mistake.  The stigma of divorcing would have ruined her reputation (this was the early 50’s) which was something she couldn’t bare.  And truthfully, I don’t think my mother had the strength or courage to leave.  Having left a husband of 21 years with a child in tow, I know the great strength it takes to walk away.  So my mother remained in an unhappy, unhealthy relationship until my father’s death.   A decision that had dire consequences for all of us.

My mother is an intelligent, hard working individual, but she has never been maternal.  My mother would have thrived and flourished if she would have remained a single, career woman.  For my mother, marriage and motherhood was a hinderance in her life.  My mother was (is) self involved in her own existence.   That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, except when you have two children who desperately need your love and guidance.  Motherhood and my mother was a car wreck waiting to happen.  My sister and I are the casualties of that mangled fender bender.

In direct contrast to my mother, I wanted to marry and have children.  I wanted to experience the joys of motherhood.  In fact, motherhood has been the single greatest blessing of my life.  Knowing the 
depth of my love for my child and the sacrifices I have been willing to make for his happiness, only serves to highlight what my parents were unwilling to do for me.  Even in my 50’s, the realization I was not deeply loved is painful to acknowledge.  I do believe  my miserable childhood has made me a better parent, because I learned the importance of  unconditional love.  I knew the pain associated with the lack of love; therefore I refused to allow my child to ever feel unloved or unwanted.  From negative experiences we can be blessed with positive experiences.   I am very thankful to God for surrounding me with His light.

Do I understand how physical/sexual abuse can continue from one generation to the next?  Yes.  I also understand what stopped the abuse for me, which was my acceptance of God in my life.  It was the prayers that I prayed as a small child for God to save me.  Those prayers were answered,  although I was not sweep away from my family as I had hoped, God blessed with His love, which forever changed my life. 

Around 7 years old, I knew God was with me.  Although I never saw or heard my angel, I instinctively felt her presence.  In 8th grade that changed.  During an extremely emotional, combative period in my family life, I lacked the emotional strength to attend school.  I would skip school and crawl in to my mother’s side of the bed sobbing.  Where I went inward with the pain and humiliation of my childhood (reading the bible and taking four hour baths), my sister courted sex, drugs and an immoral lifestyle.  That pattern continued for my sister well into her 40’s.

One morning as I laid in my mother’s bed weeping, I suddenly felt the tender touch of a hand, gently brushing the hair away from my forehead.  God’s angel was humming a beautiful melody and comforting me in the most loving of gestures.  It seemed perfectly natural, not alarming or frightening at all.  The melody was incredibly soothing and left me feeling peaceful and loved.  Since that time I have received numerous visits from angels and family members who have passed over, for which I am most grateful.

The point of this article is that as children, we are like empty vessels that are filled to the brim with childhood memories.  Some of us are lucky enough to have had wonderful, safe homes with loving parents.  Others of us were not as fortunate.  We were left to find our way in life, by sorting through the debri left on our door steps from difficult life experiences.  The damage bad parenting creates, last a lifetime.   Though we try to overcome our past and live a moral life, the pain from our childhood is always present. 

I would be lying if I said I didn’t long for Ozzie and Harriet parents, or that I didn’t wish I could have married that charismatic man Rock Hudson played on screen.  I long for all those things.  Life would have been far sweeter had that been the case.  But none of those things happened and I can’t change my history.   I am a better person not because of the events in my life, but in spite of the events of my life.  I am a survivor. 

At times I still feel anger for my parent’s  failing, but I also pity them.  They missed out on experiencing the joy that unconditional love brings and what it’s like to engage in your children’s lives and view the world as they see it.  My son and I have  shared countless magical moments which will forever warm my heart.

No matter what achievements I may lay claim to during my lifetime,  my role as mother will always remain my most rewarding and blessed accomplishment.  And when I leave this world,  I will rest easy knowing my son knew his mother truly loved him.  The love my son and I share, is the love I wished I could have shared with my parents.   


On this Mother’s Day, I wish to acknowledge my grandmother Olive,  who served as the role model for the mother I became.  My cup runth over with love, respect and admiration.  I think of you and miss you everyday.  And even though the years have been many since you have passed, my heart still hears your voice and feels your unconditional love.  Through my heart, your spirit lives on.

Our Favorite TV Moms!  Which One Best Resembles Your Mother?

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