I could throw a fit when I was younger that still embarrasses me to this day. I was an only child until I was 18 so I was used to getting my way. But when I didn’t, I would work for it by screaming and slamming doors and running away from home (to the bushes in the front yard). And I mean I would work for it. My poor mother… But even though I threw royal fits until I was way too old to be doing so, I was an angel when it came to honesty, safety, and following the law and moral code. Any pranks I was involved with were so benign, my grandmother probably would have poked fun at me for being such a sissy. I was the ever-present “safety monitor” who talked friends out of stealing street signs because I didn’t want to cause an accident. I never remember being pressured to try drugs or do anything illegal. I was offered, but I declined and it was never an issue. People always seemed to know where I stood and didn’t find issue with it. I was occasionally called a “Goody Two-Shoes,” but it was always said in a way that inferred respect. And through it all, I always had a good time and never felt like a prude.
So in the midst of a very busy day today, a friend at work asked me what it was that helped me remain such a “good kid” when I was younger. Without any hesitation I answered, “My relationship with my mother. I was more worried about disappointing her than I was receiving a punishment.” To clarify, my parents have been married since the year I was born, and I love my dad endlessly. But my mother and I have always been especially close. She volunteered for most of my childhood and teen years as a youth minister so we talked openly and regularly about the issues teens faced. And we talked about the poor choices some of them made, and I saw first-hand the consequences they had to deal with – death, pregnancy, drug addiction, homelessness, legal problems… None of that was appealing to me. I think being exposed to this made me realize we aren’t invincible as so many teens believe. I’ve never felt invincible in my life.
As things settled down tonight, that question resurfaced in my mind. When I thought about it more, I thought about the tremendous impact my mother has had on my life. She is the one who instilled these values in me. She taught me to stand my ground. She raised me in the Church. She taught me there are consequences for our actions. She taught me empathy and raised awareness in me. She is the one who talked openly with me and made it clear that I could come to her with anything. She is the one who never hid the fact that she was only 17 when she had me. She was the one who talked to me about how becoming pregnant with me affected her. She was open about how scared she was and how much her life changed. And she made me understand how happy she was and how very loved I was when I was born. She never made me feel like I owed my parents for allowing my birth or for keeping me. I know they struggled being so young with a child, but I never ever, ever, ever felt resented, and that alone is a remarkable accomplishment.
My mother is hilarious which has always made me enjoy spending time with her. She is honest and never hides what she is thinking. She is the voice of reason when I need practical solutions. She is my prayer warrior. She is my coach. She is my gentle reminder as well as the gale-force wind. She is my role model. She is my friend.
My mother is exceptional.