With Mother’s Day just days away, it’s hard not to think about my mom and all of the things she has done for her children.
My mother has lived a life! She shares stories of her childhood all the time. How different things were then, and how she decided early on she would do things differently. It’s really odd to think about some things she would do. My mom talks about how my grandma would pin a list of things she needed to my mom’s coat, and would send my mother by herself when she was only 4 years old to pick them up. She would have to walk several blocks by herself. I couldn’t imagine sending my child, my baby, to do something like that. Perhaps it was the times.
She has more stories, but they are hers to tell. I will share my stories of my mother and why she is one of the strongest women I know.
When my little brother was just 5 years old, he was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer. It was wilms tumor, a pediatric cancerous tumor, and she was an absolute warrior. She had 4 other children to think about, and take care of him. My brother hated being at the hospital. He was used to being surrounded by a house full of warmth, laughter, playing, and of course fighting. Being at the hospital was cold and lonely. So my mother asked if she could give him his chemo treatments at home. The hospital said she could, but insurance wouldn’t cover it, and she would have to pay for it out of pocket. We did not have a lot of money. Growing up, I never felt poor, but we certainly were not living an upper class lifestyle. She accepted the cost, and Brendan was given chemo at home.
It’s only been later years that I have heard the story of my brother, and everything my mom went through. Of course I knew he had cancer, but I did not know the severity. I didn’t know the financial stress, and not to mention the emotional toll that took on her. She just kept a brave face for her other 4 children. Recently she even shared the hardship over paying the medical bills. She would pay the doctors every month what she could afford. Soon, she started receiving calls from collections saying she wasn’t paying enough. Insurance didn’t cover as much as they should have because they told my mother there was a treatment in another state from a less accredited hospital that would have been more cost effective. My mom turned it back around on them. She asked the person on the other end, “What would you have done? If your baby was diagnosed with life threatening cancer, would you have shopped around? Would you have found a bargain hospital? Is that what your child’s life would have been worth to you?”
In high school all I wanted to do was cheer. Cheerleading was so important to me. I know that may sound silly, but I love everything about it. I loved my uniform, and being at the games. I love school spirit, and bringing light and energy to things. Even at work, today, I feel like cheering on your colleagues makes a huge difference. There were two seasons of cheer; football and basketball. Basketball, for me, was my favorite, because it also meant competition. I made it my Freshman and Sophomore year, but Junior year I did not. I came home sobbing. It was really horrible. My mom right then taught me a lesson I will never forget. She made me call the coach that night. She made me ask her why I didn’t make the team. Not it a Pretty Women way where I was telling her she made a big mistake; HUGE. Although of course she was, who has more spirit or sparkle than me???? She had me do it to find out what I could improve upon. What could I work harder at, so that this time next year, I would make it. It was scary, but I did it. I called the coach. She cried on the phone with me, because she knew how heartbroken I was. The next year I did make the team.
She also always would go the extra mile, even when we didn’t have much. For every spirit day, or school event, she would make sure we all had what we needed. During Christmas, Santa was always extra special. I ever remember getting a baby doll that was in my bed with me when I woke up. She had a note on her, and it said it was from Mrs. Claus. That was such a special touch that made me feel so important that even Mrs. Claus would go out of her way to do something for me.
My mom is now doing the same for her grandchildren. My daughter, Brooke, recently was picked to be in her dance studio’s company. This was a HUGE deal for us! Last year, her cousin was asked, but Brooke wasn’t. My mom would tell me to do the same for Brooke that she did for me, ask what Brooke could work on. when I got the email just days ago asking for Brooke to be a part of company, the person I called first was my mom. She screamed into the phone. Her granddaughters joy was just as much hers. Just as last year, when Brooke didn’t make it, her pain was my mom’s as well.
My mother to me is a beacon of strength. She lives her life unapologetically. She has had hardships, and overcome impossible obstacles and owns every step of her journey. She will tell me how she remembers having to teach herself to be more confident and more secure. I know how hard that can be, and it is just such a testament to her strength as a woman.
So, Happy Mother’s Day Momma! I love and respect you so much. I hope I can show Brooke half of the strength you have shown me.