My Mom had me when she was 21 years old. That's us in the picture. I am the baby with the weird long head, and that's my Mom holding me. Look how young she looks. I was 25 when I had my son, and still not prepared in some ways!
My Mom had the strength to leave my Dad, who was not right for her, when she was only 26. We lived in an apartment in the college housing at Michigan State University. We had a cat named Butterscotch, who we had to hide in the bedroom when the plumber came because we weren't supposed to have pets. She worked hard to finish school, even though it meant being on welfare - she knew that it was the right thing to do because it would let her provide a better life for us later.
My Mom made sure that we always got to see my Dad. They had a good relationship - we never knew if there was any tension, just that both of our parents loved us and made sure we were taken care of.
My Mom was a Girl Scout leader, drove us to ice skating, gymnastics, acting, piano, dance and who knows what other lessons throughout our childhood. She gave us great Birthday parties and Christmases. She was a mother figure to friends who didn't have as good of situations at home as we did. She taught me to drive even though I know it scared the crap out of her. She was a cool mom, but with boundaries.
My Mom has spent most of her career taking care of people who weren't taken care of well enough by the people they depended on most, or people who didn't necessarily have the means to succeed on their own. When she wanted to change her path, she went back to school and did it. She taught me that I could do what I wanted to do. She has worked for Head Start, helping kids from low income and otherwise not perfect circumstances. She has worked in special ed with disabled middle schoolers. She currently works in high school special ed with kids who are in trouble. Some of these kids don't have any adults in their life that they can depend on. They can be disrespectful , rude, and a little crazy. But she teaches them. She is one person they can depend on. I wouldn't have the strength.
When I was pregnant, I realized that it wasn't in my heart to go back to work when I had the baby. My Mom told me that if it was that important to me, I could find away. It was the best advice I could have gotten. We did figure it out, and I'm still home being a Mom almost full time to my little boy! She was there when I gave birth, and she stayed with us for a week after he was born to help out. Now she watches Sam twice a week so I can do some work from home instead of getting a job that takes me away from him for more hours every week.
My Mom is an advisor for the Gay Straight Alliance at the high school where she works. Last Friday, they won an award for being the most inspirational GSA in Washington State this year.
My Mom has managed to put the past behind her, to work through some really crappy stuff from her childhood and two divorces. She finally stopped depending on other people to define how she behaved, she found herself, and now, at 48, she has found a man who thinks as much of her as she deserves. He loves her, he treats her well, he is smart, he wants to be a part of her family. This summer, she's getting married for the third time, and I can't wait to be there.
My Mom sings beautifully and is in a choir. When I saw her do her first solo she was so good, my eyes welled up with tears of pride.
My Mom taught me how to be kind, how to be respectful and treat other people. She taught me to believe in myself, and I hope that I can do that for my child(ren).
Mother's Day 2008