This I Believe

Sharee - 84627, Utah
Entered on May 1, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: parenthood

This I believe—your mother determines much of who you are. Your mother, whether she raises you or abandons you, will affect your life more than most of us would like to admit. At one point in all of our lives, we have felt like we hated, even loathed our own mother. Maybe when she made us go to bed without dinner, or told us we couldn’t watch a certain scary movie. Whatever the case, most people feel like myself, and cannot deny that we see our own mothers in ourselves.

My mother is one tough bitch. She is 5’9 and currently almost 250 pounds. She was raised with crazy religious parents, moving from little house to little house, never having electricity or television. She even had to sew her own underwear. She was one of those who somehow had a route to school which made her go uphill both ways. She had a father who found it necessary to keep his woman and children in line, even if that meant beating them with a stick. She grew up poor, and forcibly obedient, and never was accepted in school. She was embarrassed on a daily basis—forced to wear hand-me-downs from decades earlier.

It seems my poor mother found her true self at the age of 18, when she finally escaped the suffocating clutches of her mother and father. She enrolled at a University, and readily moved states away from her family. In college she found she was likable. She quickly made friends who found her charming and even funny. She realized that underneath the scared, poorly dressed girl with no self esteem, was a beautiful, mature woman, full of wisdom and understanding.

My mother very quickly got married to my dear father, and quickly began to pursue the American dream. She started to pop out kids yearly, seeming to learn more and more with each. I unfortunately, was number four, and was born unto an experienced, well adjusted mother.

I soon began to learn that my mom was different than most other moms. I used to be so jealous of my friends who were allowed to chew gum, drink soda, eat white bread and even sliced processed cheese. I became aware when I was still in elementary school that I dressed differently than the other children, and it seemed no one else shopped for “new” school clothes at Savers or Deseret Industries.

My mother frequently said things that I’m sure millions of mothers have said for decades. When one of her kids were crying without a good enough reason, she would not so kindly tell us to shut up or she would gladly give us something to cry about. When we would tell her dramatically we were in so much pain we were dying, she would tell us to die quietly.

My mother didn’t believe in band-aids. The only time they were deemed necessary is if there was a puddle of blood forming on her floor. My mother didn’t believe in cable television or video games, so while everyone else was playing Super Nintendo and watching Nickelodeon, my brothers and sister and I would be watching The Sound of Music.

My dear mum focused us all on reading; my earliest memories of her are her reading me to sleep. For this reason I have many favorite children’s books, and have read more than many people 10-20 years older than I am. I have a deep love of reading, and am currently an aspiring writer, and I believe that both of which are all due to my mom.

Even though my father was a successful college professor through much of my childhood, we always lived as if we were poor. Christmas and birthdays were always little affairs. My mother always cooked conventionally, and we very rarely went out to eat. My mother cooked wonderfully however, and at least I can say we always ate well.

My mother was the epitome of tough love. Through all of her brittle roughness, you can’t help but see that she is kind and forgiving, and that everything she did for her children she thought was for our best. This woman, who I am honestly still a little afraid of to this day, taught me to love unconditionally. She taught me to give no shit, and most definitely take no shit. She taught me to respect everyone, even those who seemed not to deserve my respect. She taught me to crave the greater things in life—not fame or riches, but a family and knowledge. I feel I am the woman I am today because of her great love and wisdom, and couldn’t be proud of myself if it wasn’t for all that she taught me. I owe her my being, my personality, and my balance—and probably will never be able to tell her so. It would be hard to express into words face to face with that daunting woman my gratitude, to the only person I would be proud to call my mother.

I am on the verge of motherhood myself, and am afraid and naïve being only 19. I can only pray that this child in my belly will think of me as I think of my mom, and that I can teach him or her all the helpful things my mother so graciously taught me.