Why I Refuse to Judge Any Mother

My first public blog post…

A few years ago, I attended one of my former high school student’s baccalaureate graduations. Also in attendance was her mom, a single mother of three young adults. She had literally arrived just in time for this commencement, which was 706 miles away from home. She donned a black, sequenced matching shirt and pants. Her luggage was in tow. This scene was typical; she wore her challenges. As Langston Hughes might say, life for her ain’t been no crystal stair.

But still. No matter the situation, this lady was always there for her daughter and her other two adult children. She might be the loudest one in the crowd, but that was because she was supportive. She might have snuck some popcorn into so-called prestigious events, but that’s cause everybody knows that concessions at large events cost too much.

I watched her quite a bit that weekend. She snapped 27 pictures on her disposable camera. Tossed the throwaway in her bag and snatched a new one. She did this four more times. I watched her “save” the graduation chicken because essentially, nobody else there really knew how to grill it. And I noticed how she loved her children, the best way she knew how, given her experiences. By Sunday, Mother’s Day 2013, something dawned on me; this mother is no different than I am, a mother of two daughters, or any mother for that matter. So I posted this: The longer I am a mother, the more I understand that each mother just does the best she can, given her circumstances.

1462536161555Then, something else happened. I thought about my own experiences as a daughter. Many times I felt embarrassed because my mother carried a terminal illness that would lead to death, kidney disease. A lot of times, I wished my mom were someone else. So much so that she had offered to take me to see Michael Jackson’s Victory Tour, but I declined. As much as I loved MJ, I didn’t want to be asked if this was my grandmother, again. It wasn’t until years after my mother’s death that I realized how much of a gem she really was.

In between dialysis treatments, she led a fearless life. She was deeply involved with NAPHT (National Association of Patients on Hemodialysis and Transplantation), volunteered as a Sunday school teacher, worked part-time, supported anyone she called family and friend, and all the while actively chose to raise me, this daughter she had adopted. My mother had ensured that I attend the best public magnet K-12 Chicago schools, which provided me with rich childhood experiences. In fact, I attribute my spirit of service, advocacy and motivation in part to observing my own mother do the very same things. So while there were moments of adolescent shame due to my mother’s physical appearance, there’s now an adult appreciation because I recognize and honor her for doing the best that she could, given her circumstances.

Now, I’m the mother of two fairly quiet teenage daughters, who would rather I remain silent than speak out about small infractions. These daughters turn a side-eye with every picture I capture and every post that “tells their business.” My oldest claims that she won’t tell me anything because I’ll tell everyone (guess this blog partially proves that). My youngest daughter would rather become invisible than to watch me dance in public. I’m often met with a lot of, “Are you wearing those shoes with that?” when leaving the house. But I hope that one day they’ll understand that it matters less if my shoes match my shirt. I hope that they’ll understand the reason their mother took a 320-mile commute every now and then for a career she felt called to do. I hope that they’ll remember family trips, game nights, healthy food, and movie dates. And when they’re feeling as if I could have done more, I hope they’ll remember that I too, did the best that I could, given my own circumstances.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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61 thoughts on “Why I Refuse to Judge Any Mother

  1. Reblogged this on Two Are Better Than One and commented:
    For most, Mother’s Day has come and gone. I, on the other hand, am still celebrating our moms throughout the month of May by sharing their stories with the world. If you’d like to salute your mom and share a story of lessons learned, drop me a line here.
    Today I’d like to salute Katherin’s mom. Katherin is a mother, educator, and blogger. She blogs at KE Garland: Inspirational kwotes, stories and images. Check out her site, but while you’re here, take a little time to read about her lessons learned. Happy Mothers’ May!

    Like

  2. What a touching Mothers Day tribute – so real! When young, we can find so many reasons to be exasperated by our mothers but then, I think, if we are fortunate, we look around one day and realize many of those same “reasons” carry the indelible hallmarks of their unique personhood, and stamp of their care on our lives. Thanks for helping me to reflect on that.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. As we age, we start to realize some of the sacrifices our moms made. I used to be ashamed that my mom didn’t make it to many of my events — not realizing that working full-time and raising three of my first cousins had probably depleted her energy and desire to do one more thing — even for me.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for this comment Michelle. That’s exactly my point, no matter the size of our struggles with our moms, at some point we have to realize that they all were just living life based on their backgrounds and current situations.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Beautifully written, love the sentiment. All parents do the best they can and face differing challenges. So although your adoptive mother was older and sick she still did her best.
    Happy Mother’s Day everyone! Just spoke to mine – postman was late …

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hey Kathy! I think this was one of the first posts of yours that I read. I can’t like again, so thought I’d comment instead 🙂

    Your mum had a beautiful smile! Sounds like you really did taken on those admirable qualities of hers. I’m sure when your daughters get over the self obsession of teenagedom, they’ll see that they have a really great mum and role model. Happy mothers day!

    Was about to sign off when I just noticed your reply to Chanel- I’m so sorry and even more in awe at the positivity and love that you live your life with xx

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I was gonna also say it’s been a process. I went thru a lot of anger and resentment but ya know…life and conscious choices made me a better more accountable person. I read somewhere that there’s an expiry date on how long you can blame your parents for your life lol and I tend to agree 😉

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Yes, that process is this thing we call life. I like that quote- something for me to ponder. I keep thinking I have stopped blaming them for shit, but the niggling resentments and subtle regression to old roles when I see them occasionally means I still have my process to work through, but hopefully it won’t consume too much of the time between now and my own expiry date! Have a lovely weekend and a fantastic mothers day 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yes, it is mother’s day here tomorrow. I’m never sure if it matches up with the US or the UK date- but I guess it matches you guys! My son brought home a gift he made at day care. I already peaked at the card and can’t wait to see what is on the mug that I have yet to unwrap 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  6. A wonderful tribute to mothers everywhere. One of my regrets is that I didn’t give my mother all the attention she deserved,,and one of my lessons is that I cannot expect my own daughters to give more than “given their circumstances” Thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Beautiful post. I wish I had half the experience you had with your mother. Many are not qualified for the title but are just simply used as vessels to birth extraordinary people. That has been my experience at least. Happy Mother’s Day to you!😀

    Liked by 4 people

    1. My lovely Chanel, I hope you know that I understand where you’re coming from, but I also want to share with you that my biological mother abandoned me in an apartment when I was five months old. I feel the same about her; there’s no way that I will judge her actions because she did the best she could given her schizophrenic mind. Thanks for the kind words and I hope you’ll enjoy your Mother’s Day luv 😉

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I wish you could see me nodding my head. That’s exactly it. We all are. No matter our circumstance; we’re all just doing it. And I really hope that we can begin to cheer one another along just a little more. Thanks for the read!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Wonderful writing! As a mother and a daughter I can relate to being ashamed of my younger self. How rude I have been to her… You should add a link to your previous post on Graduations, it’s connected right?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I get it, Dr. Garland. I’m right there with you. 🙂 I guess we are both musing on Mother’s Day. I haven’t let mine out yet–still hovering over the “publish” button.

    Liked by 2 people

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