With every year that passes since I became the age that my mother was when she had me I know and believe that mother’s are almost always right. Not because they did the right thing, but quite possibly because they didn’t.
When I was young and oh so sure of myself, of my mortality and my invincibility I doubted my mother’s savvy. How could she possibly know what I was going through? She was from another generation – from a time when things were simpler. Although I always went through the motions of following her advice I didn’t really buy into it.
I first got a clue when I turned 32 (single, and loving it) and realized that my mother gave birth to me at this very age. Not only did she have me to care for, she was caring for my two older sisters on her own; far from her own family, with a husband who traveled nine months out of twelve.
At 32 I was responsible enough to know I wasn’t responsible enough to care for a goldfish yet alone 3 children. How the hell did she do it? Most days she did it with grace and patience. Some days she lost it completely – threatening to leave us – once she even packed all her clothes into the back seat of our car scaring the hell out of me and my sisters. She did it the only way she knew how. Perfect? Not even close. Could I have done it better? I was sure I could do anything better than my mother. Then I turned 32 and had a better perspective, maturity started to settle in at long last.
The year I would turn 33 my mother was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. I had the honor of caring for her in my home until her death 4 months later.
Two years after her death I was forwarded a personal letter to her from a return address I did not know. Odd, I thought, but my mom was loved far and wide, I opened it up and as I read the letter I crumpled to the ground, realizing the letter was from my mom’s first born child, a sister I never knew. She was born to my 21-year old mother and given up for adoption immediately; entirely unknown to her family, her closest friends, my father. A secret she carried alone those many years to her death. Again how the hell did she do it? I cringe when I think of the times I screamed at my mother “How could you know?” or, “How could you understand?” more than likely punctuated with a door slam. Did she stand on the other side of that door wanting to come in and tell me exactly how she could know and understand? Instead, she allowed me the sweet bliss of ignorance, kindly shouldering her pain alone, forgiving me my many transgressions and unconditionally loving me.
Before my mom died she was able to see the difference in me, to know that I would be okay, to know that my would-be children would be okay. She knew that they too, will think their mom clueless even though in the end, mothers are always right – even when they aren’t.
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