Thursday, December 28, 2006

Thanks Mom

As I've been surfing the blogosphere I've noticed that there are a lot of single moms blogging. This is for them.

And for one former single mom who's as likely to sprout wings and take up aerobatics as she is to ever read a blog. (For her, I'll print this out and send it by "snail mail.")

In 1964, my mom became a widow. I was 26 months old. For the next 15 years, our household consisted of her and me.

And, though I was, of course, the perfect child, I was precious little help in terms of keeping a roof over our head, clothes on our backs and food in our bellies.

Mom taught kindergarten part-time until I was old enough to go to school myself. Thereafter she taught full time. She also earned a masters degree, participated in community theater, served on the board of her credit union and carried on a normal social life.

She made me feel so special and supported and loved, that it never occurred to me that she might have anything else to do besides supervising my upbringing.

When, in the early years, we all ate Shabbat dinner at Grandma and Grandpa's house, and then she left me there overnight, for Grandma to take to religious school on Saturday morning, it never ever occurred to me that, for her, Friday night was adult-time.

She could see a movie with a friend, go on a date that didn't require getting home in time for a baby-sitter (or the cost of a baby-sitter), or just enjoy our apartment without worrying about what I was getting into and whether I was ever going to stop with my incessant jibber-jabber of questions and comments. (I haven't yet.)

She made me feel so secure that I thought she was making a great sacrifice by letting Grandma and Grampa have me one night out of most weeks. The idea that leaving me with her folks might be a relief, rather than a sacrifice, never entered my David-centric consciousness.

Looking back, I can see hints that her task wasn't so easy. But only with my 44-year-old eyes.

At the time, I was sure my mom could solve any problem and that our life was smooth sailing.

(She remarried when I was 17 and I was best man. He's a spectacular guy and I was honored. I was also honored to ask him to return the favor more than a decade later.)

Talking to my mom about the 15 years she raised me alone, I can now see there must have been a gazillion times she felt uncertain, alone, frustrated and overwhelmed. There are undoubtedly dozens of decisions she'd like to get a "do-over" on. Maybe hundreds.

But I'm here to tell you, the love, firmness, humor, consistency, standards and security she conveyed to me (even when she didn't always feel these things herself) gave me the best foundation a guy could hope for upon which to build his own adult life.

Words are inadequate to express the depth of my gratitude. So instead, with this post, I'm trying to pay it forward.

Let me express my gratitude to all the single mom bloggers I've read in the past month.

You're doing for your kids what my mom did for me. Don't waste too much time second-guessing yourself. You're doing the best you can with what you've got. You're juggling bills and jobs and appointments and you're trying to live some semblance of an adult existence while putting your kids' needs first.

Thank you.


Anonymous said...

Absolutely beautiful post. I'm not a mom, but I'm sure single moms everywhere would be overjoyed if their kids turned out as good as you!

Rachel said...

I got all choked up when I read this. So many times I feel like I am not doing the right thing or not enough for my son.
I hope that when he grows up he realizes that I did the best that I could with what I have and that he has been and will always be the most important person in my life.
I have a question for you. D's dad is still in his life. Do you think that if your parents had divorced rather than your mother being widowed would have changed your view at all?

ANON1 said...

Can't agree with you on this one. Unless you are divorced or widowed, you should not be a single mother.

David in DC said...

Playtah: Thanks

Rachel: Double thanks. You were among the moms I had in mind when I typed this.

I'm still working out a decent answer to your hypothetical. Gimme some time? Thanks.

A1: What are you disagreeing with?

The post was about a widow.

Rachel's comment hypothesized my parents divorcing.

I'm flummoxed.

ANON1 said...

I think one should have a solid family model in place before one has children. If you can't afford children or are not in a steady, healthy, married relationship don't have children. Simple as that.

David in DC said...

Well, that's a defensible point, and probably a good topic for a post on The Mind of Anon1, but I'm not sure what it's doing in this thread.

I wrote about my mom's sacrifices as a widow. Rachel asked what my view would be if my parents were divorced, as D's are.

I'm not trying to be quarrelsome here, but I don't want to see the thread hijacked either. I didn't post about anyone who made an irresponsible choice to become a parent. Neither did Rachel. Only you did. Twice.

If you want to post about irresponsible parenting choices, you have a darn good place to do so. You needn't shoehorn it into a discussion where it's not apropos.

ANON1 said...

Thank you DAD, I will make a note of that. You posted about single mothers so I posted a comment about it.

David in DC said...

But you seem to have understood both "flummoxed" and "apropos" so I guess this exchange isn't a total waste of electrons.

Despite substantial evidence to the contrary, neither is A1.

Happy New Year.