I was thinking today that I have the greatest mom in the world. Not perfect, but she has taught me so many things. She said to me last night that she marvels at my patience with Michael and said I am a great mom, and I didn't think to say it but I should've said "I was taught by the best."
We learn how to parent by watching our own parents, and either consciously or unconsciously deciding to be like them, or be totally unlike them. I think most of our choices about marriage and children are heavily influenced by our growing up years.
Mom didn't have an easy childhood but she did her best to make ours fun.
My mother has not had an easy life, but she hasn't had a terrible life either. Her motto in life is "If you don't laugh, you'll cry. Laughing is better."
Her first years were tough, for a lot of reasons. She was born in 1933 - the depth of the Great Depression, with neither of my grandparents working, and everyone in the extended families struggling to get by.
When she was small, my grandfather changed jobs a lot. All the moving was hard. Mom explained that to me. Papa would be hired by a company to manage and play on their company baseball team, but then the powers that be wouldn't let him run the team the way he wanted, and he would get fed up and quit. He was an intensely honorable person, and he simply wouldn't tolerate anything not aboveboard. Below, a team he played for in Buford, Georgia. The look on his face [he's seated on the end, below the guy in the hat] says it all.
From my grandmother, Mom learned a lot. Mamaw had grown up in a family of 12 children, and although her father was wealthy, there was still a lot of work, and she was right in the middle of the bunch. To some, Wilma Butler might've appeared to be a young debutante, spoiled, etc. but she wasn't. She was a very intelligent, funny, articulate person, and she was married to Papa for almost 40 years, through good times and bad, dealing with the Depression, WWII, precarious job situations, etc. with grace and fortitude. Mom says every time they had to move Mamaw would be cheerful and tell the kids they were going on to better things and everything would be grand in the new place.
On Christmas day this year we had our dinner on the Blue Willow china that Mamaw carefully packed in a barrel all through the Depression and took to each new home. Not one piece has ever been broken.
After World War II the family moved back to Atlanta. There was a housing shortage because of all the returning soldiers and they had to share a room in the home of one of Papa's sisters for a while, then they got a tiny apartment. One day my uncle Don was walking home from high school and saw a family moving from a lovely large home on 9th Street and he found a phone and called Papa to leave work and come put in an offer, and that was the house the family lived in for the next 25 years.
It was in that house that Dad proposed to Mom one day in fall 1956.
They were totally opposite in personality, which is why I think their marriage worked. Dad was energetic and excitable, and Mom was [and is] a low key, mostly easygoing person.
One of my favorite stories about their early marriage is that Dad expected Mom to instantly know how to cook and clean and be 1950's "wifely." She had no training or experience at anything like that. So about the third day they were married [their honeymood was a big 1 day trip over the Florida line] he announced that he was going back to work and he expected to get up the next morning and have bacon, eggs, grits, toast, and coffee. Mom did her best, but she had never cooked a big breakfast like that. Mamaw ruled her kitchen and didn't teach Mom anything.
But Mom tried her best. She would fry eggs and they wouldn't turn out, so she would throw the resulting mess out the back door and start over. It got to where all the dogs in the neighborhood congregated outside the tiny apartment to see what food came flying out the door early in the morning.
Dad refused to put his clothes in the hamper, refused to tell Mom where he was going or when he would be back, and called his mother every night as soon as he got home.
Mom has said laughingly about that time "it took me a while to get him trained."
She didn't trade him in, though. She stuck it out.
Eventually, we were born.
Bruce changed everything, of course.
She raised us, and had a respite for about20 years, and then she got round two - helping me raise my kids.
I am sure when she envisioned her retirement years, Mother never thought she'd be living with her daughter and grandchildren. She is my rock and my best friend, though, and makes my life a lot easier. I am so blessed.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM! LOVE YOU LOTS!