Lessons I Learned From My Mother

I loved Mom! She was my best friend and companion for the first 33 years of my life. I write this today, on what would have been her 89th birthday. Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of her death.

I was devastated when Mom died. I relived the horrifying events in my head almost every year for the first 18 years. I hated March. I believe because I hated March so much that I attracted many bad things to happen in March.

Mom died suddenly of a heart attack the day after her 69th birthday. It was a very sad day for her. She felt that all of us children hated her for the abuse we suffered at the hands of our father. She felt that she had failed us. The last conversation I had with Mom was about the abuse from Dad and the abuse in my marriage. Her death and our conversation HAUNTED me for years.

A few years ago, I met Mary Allen (LifeCoachMary.com). With the help of her mentoring and her book “The Power of INNER CHOICE: 12 Weeks to Living a Life YOU Love” I found an inner peace that allows me to be happy in March and to feel at peace with my memories.

Mom was raised during the depression and lived in New York. Sometime during World War II, she moved to California and worked at the Firestone Rubber plant as many women did during the war. She met Dad in 1947, gave up her job and began a family. I am the youngest out of five children.

Growing up, Mom coddled me a lot. My dad had a violent temper. Even though I received the least abuse, Dad broke my ribs when I was 14. Mom used to say that when my older siblings were born that Dad would not allow her “spoil them.” He thought that allowing babies to cry was a good thing. Dad cheated on Mom while she was pregnant with me. She put her foot down and told him “This is my baby; I will hold it when I want to, I will spoil it and you will not say anything about it.” Mom loved all of us, I was just fortunate enough to have more of her nurturing.

During my childhood years, Mom always stroked my hair, loved me and told me stories. Some stories were about her life, others were inspirational stories that she held in her heart. Most of these stories were to motivate me to succeed in life. She always told me “Don’t ever depend on a man to support you for the rest of your life.”

My Aunt tried to get Mom to leave my dad several times. This was back in the 1960s. Mom would always answer, “How can I support 5 kids? Frank is a good man; he doesn’t drink and earns good money.”

I never saw any real “love” between Mom and Dad. I did know that Dad ruled the house. I always wondered why Mom did not have any friends. When I was older, I found out that Mom was visiting a friend and did not have dinner on the table when Dad got home. After that time, she never had friends of her own. She got up in the morning, fixed Dad’s breakfast, made his lunch, sent him to work, cleaned the house, and had dinner on the table when he got home. Then Dad would have complete control over the TV set and we were not allowed to speak during his shows. Mom and Dad were married 45 years when she died and this was her life during the entire time.

As I grew up in this family, I never realized how very sad Mom was. She was a prisoner in her life – in her marriage. She felt trapped and did not see a way out. Her dream – her hopes was that my sister and I not follow the same path. She wanted us to be happy successful women. She wanted us to be with men because of love not out of necessity or fear.

Because, we learn about love and marriage from watching our own parents, I married a man very similar to Dad. He was a hard worker, he did not drink, but boy did he have a temper! Everything was his way or the highway. There was no gray, everything was either black or white. He also could not forgive. It was hard work staying married to him … always trying to please him … always trying to do it his way … being yelled at for things that happened 10 or 15 years prior.

Moms 55th birthday with all of her children and grandchildren - 1978 Top Row: Brother Earl, Dad, Ex-Earl, Brother Ray; Middle Row: Sis-in-law, Sheila, Mom, Me, Sis-in-law Susie; 3rd row: sis-in-law Jeannie, Sister Carroll, Brother Mike; Kids: Niece Laura, Nephew Paul, Neice Kristy, Nephew Marty and Nephew Danny

I did not WAKE UP until 1997. That is when it was as if a fog was lifted. I understood that so many of the stories that Mom told me were to help me understand that my life is my choice. That I have the power to create my life the way I want it and that people would love and respect me as long as I was being true to myself.

It took me awhile to let go of the past and the fears and worry that held me prisoner.

Even though Mom did not see the strong successful woman, I am today in her earthly body, I know that she watches me. I know that she is proud of me and happy for me. It makes me feel good to be able to share so much of what Mom taught me with women who are hurting and feel that they are trapped in this life. This is my legacy to Mom.

Interestingly, I recently found out that my grandmother and my great-grandmother both had first husbands that drank and beat them. This made me rather understand, why Mom would say “Frank is a good man, he doesn’t drink,” and also the fact that Dad never once hit Mom. She did a little better than her Mom did. Even thought my first marriage was similar to Mom and Dads, my second marriage is one that is based on true healthy love and respect for each other.

I love you Mom!!!

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  1. says

    A great article! It took me three years to “wake up” after my father died and as you so rightly say … “life is my own choice”.

    My mother too was unhappy during her life and full of regrets. At the time of her passing (about 15 years ago now) I don’t think I learnt the lessons from this. However, your article has reinforced this for me.

    Warm wishes

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