Mothers come in all shapes, sizes, and personalities, with different values and beliefs. Some aren’t good at parenting and others are a bit more hands on than they need to be. Children are innocent and they love unconditionally, even when mom isn’t doing the right things.
Sometimes moms repeat the cycle of neglect, abuse, control, and so on. Maybe they never come to realize that there is a need for change or that they can do better. Some don’t have the energy or willpower to overcome their habits. Others just aren’t equipped for what life brings them or are conflicted by want their spouses insist upon. Moms do their best in each moment.
I have a lot of respect and admiration for single parents. I sometimes say I come from a twice broken family. My mom was married and divorced twice, and raised my sister and me with help from my grandma.
She lost her battle to cancer four years ago and I was left to go through her finances and personal documents. What an eye-opening and heartbreaking experience. I was amazed by how much she did for us on her income, and I thought about the sacrifices she must have made. It’s undeniable that my sister and I had a good childhood. We had more than enough food, a lot of nice clothes, went to movies, and enjoyed many different things, including an occasional trip.
One day I ended up at a class called GriefShare and realized I was laden with guilt. God was in action because no one else showed up that night (it’s a multi-part series) and I benefitted from one-to-one time with the facilitator, who is a mom and a widow. She used the love I have for my daughter to help me see and understand that my mom was happy to do what she did. She wanted to provide the best life she could for me. Above all, mom wanted me to be happy, and it would make her sad to know that I wasn’t enjoying life as fully as I could because I was carrying around unnecessary guilt.
My mom, a single-parent on a limited income, left behind a townhouse for me to sell and divide the proceeds between my sister, me and mom’s boyfriend. It wasn’t a huge sum but we paid off our cars, his student loan, took a couple of short trips, and put enough of a down payment on a home to make the monthly payments affordable.
I felt guilty about having this house. I remember her telling me long before she was sick that she chose to by the townhouse and make sacrifices because she wanted to leave something behind for us. She wanted us to use the money to make sure we had roofs over our heads. I did that, but I still felt bad. It makes matters worse that this house is in a subdivision that I had suggested she consider moving us to more than 20-years ago. She looked at me incredulously. She had to explain that the property was way out of her reach. And, even though it’s modest and poorly decorated, my family and I are in a home that mom could never afford.
The most comfort came from someone helping me understand that everything I have is a blessing from God.
The one thing I wish mom had left me is a record of her life. She was a private person who guarded many of her thoughts and feelings. On top of that, time changes things and memories fade. I would have loved it if I had come across a journal or something that chronicled at least some of her life. Something I could have shared with my precious daughter, who never had the chance to meet my mom.
I wish mom had literally left her story behind because I can’t do it justice.