Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and to all the mothers out there Happy Mother’s Day. But I don’t think that it is really any more special than any other day. Don’t get me wrong, I think that motherhood is the most wonderful experience in the world. But reserving just one day to thank someone who made you what you are seems a bit underwhelming. Of course in my case, maybe I should change it from Mother’s Day to “Thank God My Children Survived Day”.
Raising children to be self-sufficient, productive adults is a noble achievement and I think I did an okay job. Nobody went to prison and none of them is on the dole. So I did okay, I certainly was not a perfect mother. I lied to my children when the need arose, such as when they were little and wanted candy out of the gumball machines. I told them that the writing on the front of the machines said, “Out of Order”. I sounded so sad and sincere, that it worked every time until they learned to read.
I bullied and terrified them telling them that I was an apprentice working on my mastership to be the meanest mom in the world and I was very close to getting my degree. I told them that I had eyes in the back of my head and could hear a pin drop three blocks away, so they better watch what they said and did. I dealt out justice swiftly, I never once said, “Wait ‘til your father gets home.” I let them play and get scraped knees and elbows. I let them fall down and helped them get back up so that they could fall down again. I told them to rub some dirt on it and get back out there.
I taught them to never be cruel to animals and other children, but at the same time I told them to never back down from a fight. Stand tall, be honest and treat people the way you want to be treated and it will all work out in the end. I told them that the only job they had in this world was to go to school and get good grades. A’s and maybe a B, but nothing less and there better be a really good reason that there was a B. Then we would work on the problem class until we solved the problems. I expected excellence out of them, mediocre was not acceptable. There is nothing wrong with not succeeding, but there is no excuse for not trying, that is the true failure.
As they grew older and started thinking about life, careers and families of their own, I told them that I didn’t care what they did or how much money they made, but to make sure they chose to do something they really loved doing. Because whatever they decided on, they would be doing it for a long time and if they didn’t love it then they would be unhappy for a very long time. I taught them that family is important but not at the expense of self.
I did what I did as a mother not because I wanted accolades or to be their friend. I told them that often, “I am your mother, not your friend, you have enough friends. I am here to guide you, to teach you and to make you into a worthwhile human being. You don’t have to like it or me, but you will do what I say, because I am your mother.”
Cruel wasn’t I?