My daughter asked me one day when she was four or five, “Who called you ‘Mommy’ before me?” to which I replied, “Nobody. I wasn’t a mommy, until you made me a mommy.” She said back to me incredulously, “What did they call you from when you were a baby? Courtney?!” Yes…
Yes, I am no longer Courtney. I am Mommy. And sometimes I feel like I’m my mother. Ever hear something come out of your mouth and go, “Agh! I sound like my mother!” It happens to all of us; it’s happened to me on many occasions. Once you have kids of your own, all the things you admire and despise about your own upbringing are thrown in your face.
After having my daughter, I’m actually closer to both my parents than I ever have been. After these past almost ten years of being a mother myself, I’ve realized how much of an amazing mom mine really was. She never let us be aware when times were rough, and we had no money. She always kept things fun. She taught us discipline and respect. She couldn’t really cook, she lost her temper more times than she should have and we really didn’t like each other for a lot of years, but I now know I have the best mom ever! I have learned to recognize the tendencies I inherited from her that aren’t so good and to correct those in myself. I’ve also learned to model her example in a lot of areas.
I never knew how poor we really were throughout my younger years while my parents raised the five of us. We just knew we were in a family full of love, fun, and where respect was required above all else.
My dad once owned a tax prep company, and my mom helped him there. The building had a basement where my dad kept a TV and a couch for us to spend the day. It was over winter break, and my mom had packed a whole backpack full of food for the day. She left it by the back alley door outside to keep it cold. At lunchtime, she discovered someone had stolen the backpack. She told all of us that we had been able to bless someone else that would have gone hungry. My dad had this huge canister of “Tang”, and we thought it was the greatest day ever, because we got to drink as much of it as we wanted (instead of eating lunch…)! Oh, to be young again.
Apparently, we had been on food stamps and WIC most of my childhood, and I never knew! One of my favorite weeks of my youth was when we ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day for lunch and dinner. I found out much later in life that we did that because my parents couldn’t afford any other food for us. My mom, in her true fashion, made it a fun memory for us kids! At each meal, she brought out a huge popcorn tin that was filled with so many different cookie cutter shapes. We got to pick one and make a shape out of our PB&J. We had to eat the outer part first, and then we got to eat our shapes.
I have tried to make sure that no matter how good times have been or how much we’ve struggled, that I always laugh with my child once a day and give her the memories of just being allowed to be a happy kid. This generation seems to be growing up way too fast, and my own already wants to be such a big girl at only ten. We encourage her to just be a kid and enjoy this time of her life. She will never get it back, and I want to protect her happiness just like my mom did mine.
So, thanks, Mom. I’m proud to be like you.
What lessons and tidbits of wisdom have you learned from your own mother and carried down into your own parenting?