Honoring Mothers, Even My Own

11 May

I usually don’t write about my mother.  As a “Daddy’s Girl,” I’ve dedicated three or four blogs over the years to my father, flawed as he was, but I steer clear of Mom. Perhaps I do this because some aspects of our relationship still need healing, yet they never will heal completely because she’s been gone for nearly 10 years.

Most of my more recent memories of my mother involve whiskey and tears. My mom raised nine children (well, the youngest four pretty much raised each other, but that’s another story) and she carried two girls to full-term, losing them in childbirth. I cannot deny she led a tough life, but a part of me still resents that she turned to the bottle for solace.

The most poignant words I ever heard her utter were, “I’ve been pregnant 99 months of my life and all I have to show for it are varicose veins and a mountain of laundry.”

On some levels that’s a bit funny, however, because she believed it, those words pierce my heart to this day. If she could see us now, and I think she can—certainly more clearly than she could here on Earth—I know she’d be proud of her children. We’re not wealthy doctors and lawyers, but we’re all good-hearted people who work hard, and who believe in doing right and helping others. Among us you’ll find a teacher, a fisherman, a carpenter, a deacon, a store manager, a truck driver, and three very-small-business owners.

You’ll also find varying degrees of anger and resentment toward Mom. The variation comes with differences in birth order, proximity to the problem over the years, and depth of understanding regarding our Dad’s role in her demise. (Yes, there’s a book here—working on it!)

My personal struggle is with wondering how much of my childhood experiences were necessary to make me who I am today? How much of that gave my oldest brother such a compassionate heart that he relentlessly collects food and money for regular relief trips to an impoverished area of West Virginia? How much of that imbued my youngest sister with the stubbornness to pursue her college degree, one and two classes at a time over many years, after the world told her she would never be a teacher? (Today, she’s pretty much Teacher of the Year every year in my book—take THAT world!) How much of what we went through as children drives each of us to pursue dreams instead of merely money?

And mostly, I wonder how much of what we went through is Mom’s fault? She did what she thought she had to do. She made good and bad decisions, like all of us. She became trapped by some of those decisions, and it affected us. To an extent, it defines us today, but it does not define our futures. We each have a say in how much we will allow our childhoods to drive our adulthoods.

Why do I bring this up now? Lately, it’s become trendy for people who don’t celebrate Mothers’ Day, for varied and quite appropriate reasons, to assert those reasons into the conversation as if to lessen the joy of the day. In some circles, people are becoming cautious about wishing each other Happy Mother’s Day for fear of offending. I’ll admit, although I have two wonderful boys, Mother’s Day always brings a twinge of sadness for me. And I cannot imagine what the day is like for someone who has lost a child. Whoever you are, please know that my heart aches for you, not just this Sunday, but every day. For you, and for me, this is just not our day.

Taking offense is a decision, however, and I choose not to.

Because Mothers’ Day IS a sweet and special day for others. I’ve learned to appreciate a beautiful story about a wonderful mother and not feel envy, but gratefulness, because that mother created a fantastic person. I celebrate with you, mothers everywhere, for the job you’re doing. I honor you, whether you’re making good decisions or fumbling the ball right now, whether your house is spotless or a cluttered disaster, whether your kids eat Pop-Tarts or home-baked bread for breakfast. My prayer for each of you is that your children absorb your good examples with sponge-like efficiency, and learn from (but see past) your failures and short-comings. I want to encourage you to keep trying, to push forward, and to be awed and inspired by this task you’ve been given—to influence young minds and create good adults.

young mom

“And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
 That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.”

(Emily Dickenson, Hope is the thing with feathers)

Happy Mothers’ Day. May each of us find something about mothers to take joy in this Sunday.

And to my own mom, I honor you as well, for all it cost you to be my mother, our mother. I’m glad you’re no longer suffering. I want you to know we didn’t break. I’ll never understand, this side of Heaven, what that was all about, but I kinda’ like how we all turned out. We’re a tough, stubborn, witty, resilient people. Thank you for my life and for each of my siblings.

I miss you.


Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice. – Proverbs 23:25

10 Responses to “Honoring Mothers, Even My Own”

  1. Cheryl May 11, 2017 at 11:36 am #

    Rosemarie, I think these words convey the same message I have heard of late regarding the command to honor our father and mother. Not always an easy thing to do. It is this, the best way to honor a parent it to live a life as a responsible and caring person that contributes to the family, friends and community around them. Your story tells this beautifully.

    • Portrait Writer May 11, 2017 at 12:10 pm #

      Thank you, Cheryl. I like the way you put that. Very nice.

  2. Michele May 11, 2017 at 5:50 pm #

    Wonderful Story. I will get past the envy eventually!

    • Portrait Writer May 11, 2017 at 6:30 pm #

      And then you’ll know real peace. Praying for you, my friend. ❤

  3. Maggie Marcum May 11, 2017 at 8:07 pm #

    You’re telling my story again! This brought me to tears and I so appreciate that fine line of disappointment in our mom and compassion for her struggles. I pray for healing and compassion as you come to Sunday. And may you feel joy in celebrating your motherhood and the blessing you are to others today.

  4. Linda Canciglia McWilliams May 14, 2017 at 10:23 am #

    This tugged at my heart, and I ended up in tears. No doubt about it, motherhood can be a great blessing, but at the same time, it is very hard and sometimes it is lonely. As children we can’t truly understand our exhausted mothers, and as girls, we are likely to be less forgiving of their faults as we are of our fathers. I too was a Daddy’s girl and struggled with my mother from the time I became a teenager. It got easier to empathize with her as I experienced some of my own problems in marriage and parenting, but the struggle never really ended, or the sense that she disapproved of me. I hope that my children will be as forgiving of me for the ways I failed and for the things I said in moments of frustration as you are toward your mother.

    • Portrait Writer May 14, 2017 at 4:45 pm #

      Aw, bless you, Linda. I’m sure they are. You always have such glowing things to say about your children…if even your friends can see how proud you are of them, I’m sure they know as well.

  5. LIz June 14, 2017 at 2:01 pm #

    OMG-just reading the story now but I can’t believe how much little (maybe not so little) Jerry looks just like your mom.


  1. Honoring the Women in Our Lives – maggiemarcum - May 12, 2017

    […] Day is this weekend. I was reminded by one of my favorite authors, Rosemarie Fitzsimmons of The Portrait Writer,  that it may not be easy for some of us to celebrate our mothers. Some of us may no longer have […]

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