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Why Bother Cutting Our Mothers a Little Slack?

Mothers, and our relationship with them, are complex. Because they were complex creatures before we even called them by the name of  “Mom” , why should we expect anything less than a complicated relationship with them as our mom? 

No mother is born a mother. Everybody starts out as a child.  Then, every mother has their own private life long before we come along and call them, “Mom.” 

Can’t We Just Have Fun?

I didn’t know Mom very well as an individual while growing up. Is that even possible? 

It was only when I moved away from home and then returned every now and then again to visit Mom that I attempted to get to know her as someone other than my mother. 

 At first, those visits were painful. It seemed that the residue of Dad’s suicide, and Mom’s denial of his suicide, resounded inside the walls of the house making my tumultuous memories even louder.

Not until my youngest brother was old enough to move out did Mom sell the place I’d once called home. Consequently, when she moved into a new place, those memories of mine settled down during my visits. 

Once while staying in her new place, I sat on the living room floor and opened the button drawer of her writing desk. This drawer had always held the black and white glossy photos from days gone by and they were still there. That deep drawer was filled with pictures of many untold stories. 

When I opened the drawer, Mom was sitting down, a rare thing for her to do. So, I took a risk and while holding up a photo, I’d ask her questions about it. For a brief period of time, Mom opened the window a life she’d once lived before any of us called her, “Mom” .

She let me know that Dad had been a good dancer and often made her laugh. When they first dated, they went dancing at an outdoor pavilion where many popular big bands came and played. 

In a small brown manila envelope I took out two small wedding pictures. There were no professional pictures taken at her wedding because the photographer forgot to put film in his camera. 

Family photos of her, my grandparents and her three siblings were rare as were the smiles on their faces. But in a photo of her standing with Dad and his parents and two brothers, everyone was smiling. Mom told me she could make Dad’s whole family laugh. Their nickname for her was Cyclone. 

While reliving the stories behind a few of those Kodak moments, she was once again an individual who’d had a fun, and somewhat care-free life. While retelling those stories, she became someone other than the Mom to seven kids whose husband had left her by the means of suicide. 

Why bother cutting mothers a little slack? It is only in small unexpected moments that any of us get to know our mothers as who they were before they became Mom to us. But, when those moments do arise, it’s best to pay attention so that we can be reminded of what they may have given up to give us life. 

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