Funny how as kids we often don't see our parents as humans with actual lives. To us they go from being the smartest people in the world when we are very young....to the dumbest people in the world when we are in our teens.....and then back to the smartest people in the world when we finally get old enough to appreciate all their hard work, sacrifice and life experience. It is then that there comes a day when you realize that 1)Mom's can actually put curses on you and at least one of your off-spring is living proof of that, 2) You were oh so wrong each and every time you said....."I will never say those things to my kids,"....... as you open your mouth and your mother's words fall out, and finally 3) You as a parent can only hope to be half the parent your mom was and because of said curse.....you aren't even close.
I remember when my mom went back to work after all those years of being a stay at home mom. She had literally devoted her entire life to my brother and I, and quite honestly......I thought that is what all mom's did. It was a total shock when she went back to work and she had a life outside the house with responsibilities and schedules that didn't include us. I was grown but still living at home and my brother was in high school and yet we were like two little kids whose mom forgot to pick them up from daycare. It was culture shock for us to find out that Mom had a life outside of us and that she liked it. In fact....I am pretty sure there were days she would much rather have been at work than at home. Eventually though....I saw some positive changes in my mom. I had always thought she was a Wonder Woman of sorts, but now I saw a quiet confidence in her. She liked what she did (she was a psych nurse) and from all accounts.....she was damn good at it. Going back after so many years.....at first she was met with quite a bit of resentment as well as the attitude that she wasn't quite good enough. Mom was a two year, old school RN and she was thrown amongst a bunch of younger degree RN's. It wasn't too long though, before Mom would put her practical experience up against their "book learning" and when push came to shove......Mom's experience won out. After Mom died, a nurse she had worked with took me aside and told me what a great nurse she had been. She said Mom's patient care was above and beyond anyone elses and apparently no one could "take down" or calm a patient like Mom. The nurse went on to tell me that if a patient started to get wound up or go off the rails.....my little 60+ year old mom would face them head on while all the degree nurses would basically be lined up, hiding behind her. Experience vs. book learning....Go Mom!
When Mom died, most of those she had worked with attended her funeral. She had made some amazing friends in this work life of hers and the church was filled with nurses and doctors who like us....were grieving her loss. It was a time of great sadness for me....but also a time when I learned so much about the woman I had never gotten to really know.
What I find strange is, that as a child.....my mom and I talked a lot. We would have conversations that lasted hours and I really thought because of this that I knew my mom. On reflection though, those conversations often were about life when she was young, her family and when I got older.......a lot about ME! Seldom though were those conversations ever about her....her thoughts, her feelings or what made her happy. After she died, I realized that there was so much about her that I never knew. I knew the mom.....her co-workers knew the nurse, but I don't think any of us ever really knew the woman. Even today I will think of something about her and suddenly realize.....I don't have the answers to so many questions. She was a complex woman, who was stubborn to the core. She had a laugh that was contagious....... which always seemed to be a problem in church, but she also hid so much from the world. She had a poker face that revealed nothing and often she refused to show her hand.
So in yesterdays conversation......while I was learning so much new information about my mom and trying desperately to grasp every syllable so that I could ponder it later, she said something that I have heard several times recently. She said....."You look so much like your mom." No one realizes just how that makes me feel. To be honest, I always thought my mom was beautiful and I never saw myself looking like her. In fact growing up......I never really looked like any of my family. I always felt like the odd girl out and I would wonder how my pretty mom could have given birth to such an odd me. About a month ago though, I glanced in the mirror and the reflection staring back caught me off guard. For a second, I didn't see me....I saw my mom. It was the first time I ever saw the resemblance. I won't lie....there were some tears. If what they say is true and I am starting to look like her, then I am both grateful and honored.
I guess yesterday's conversation was fitting, as today is Mother's Day. I want to wish my mother and all the mother's in heaven......a very Happy Mother's Day..... and to all you mom's still giving it your best shot every day here on earth......I wish each and every one of you.....a truly wonderful and happy day. Happy Mother's Day!!!!!!
In Remembrance of Mary Jane Doughtery Jacques