I realized recently that the only things I have written about my parents here have been astonishingly negative. So I thought I would set the record straight a little bit
My mom wanted more for me than what she had growing up. She grew up in a house with three brothers and was the only girl. Her parents farmed for a living–livestock, row crops, and timber. She was part of the baby boom generation, born in 1948. I don’t know a lot about her growing up years because she very rarely talks about it. I do know her parents tried to give her opportunities–she played saxophone in high school band for a year, and they were determined that she go to college. She went for about a year and then married my daddy, who was about to be shipped off to Vietnam. They eloped to Alabama because she was old enough to be married without parental consent there. They took my dad’s mom along because he needed a parent to sign permission. The story goes that they walked into my grandparents’ house after their weekend together and my dad announced that they had gotten married. My grandmother reportedly said, “I ain’t got nothing to say,” and walked out and went fishing. She came back in three hours and never said another word against it.
When my uncle died when I was seven she saw how her sister-in-law struggled to raise four kids without working. She decided to go back to school and finish her teaching degree. I used to tease her whenever she made a B in school, saying that I made better grades than she did. She graduated shortly after my younger sister was born and went to work as a teacher in elementary school.
She knew when I was very young that I was advancing academically–she taught me to read by age three and continued to push me throughout my school years to excel. At times I thought she would only love me when I made good grades. As a mom now, I know better. But she went about it all wrong, threatening me with loss of privileges if I made less than all A’s. if I had a school project to do, she often took over doing it because she wanted me to make the best grade possible. I never got to enjoy the compliments on such projects because I knew I hadn’t been the one doing the work. So that made it hard growing up.
My mom and I have a good relationship now that I am too far away from her to be involved in my everyday life. We talk on the phone a lot and see each other about once a month. She blames herself for my mental problems, thinking it’s how she raised me that I have problems now. I know that’s not the case and have tried to explain that to her, but she has her own opinions about things. But I can finally say I really do love my mom and appreciate the efforts she made on my behalf.