For some reason, when I think back on my childhood the memories that are the easiest to remember are the bad ones. I’m not sure why bad memories tend to be more prominent in my mind, but It is my opinion that they serve a purpose. Those memories are the ones where although there was struggle, lessons were learned.
One of the oldest memories I have is from one Christmas shortly after my parents divorced. My Dad was remarried to a woman with two daughters, and we spent the morning opening gifts as a family. I recall opening a gift that contained clothing of some kind with a small Minnie Mouse necklace that I was overly excited about. Upon revealing the gift to my family my Dad and Stepmother realized the error that was made when wrapping the gifts. The gift I had just opened was a gift for my stepsister. It was a bummer relinquishing the gift, but I sucked it up and we went about our day.
Later that morning My Dad dropped us off to our Mom so we could celebrate with her. I cannot recall every detail of that day, but I can summarize by saying we greeted our Mother and told her all about our morning while showing her the gifts we received at our Dad’s before opening presents with her.
I remember opening one of my gifts, a Fisher-Price Rock-a-Stack and upon seeing the gift, I admit, I acted horribly. I declared that it was a baby’s toy, and I didn’t want it. I’m not sure if the events that took place earlier that day had an effect on how I reacted but to this day I can still remember the look on my mother’s face. Sadness, hurt and disappointment, and I’m still incredibly ashamed of how I acted in that moment.
I remember my Mom taking the toy and making a statement about how if I didn’t want the toy, we’d put it up for someone who would appreciate it. She then put it on a shelf above our basement stairs and it stayed there for quite some time and every time I’d go up or down the stairs I’d see it there on the shelf.
One day I remember asking her if I could have it, I had changed my mind and wanted to play with it, and she refused to let me have it. Looking back, I know that her refusal wasn’t to be cruel due to my reaction, it was to teach me a lesson. It was to teach me to appreciate the things I have, the gifts I receive and the people who provide them.
It took me a long time to understand that, that Christmas after a very trying few years in which my mother was divorced and her support system (my Grandma) moved out of state, my Mom needed help to provide her children with Christmas gifts and she didn’t necessarily choose those gifts for us, but she did her best to make sure that when the day came, we had something under the tree.
Each Christmas after that I can say she never failed. She worked herself to death every day to make sure we had what we needed, even if it wasn’t the trendiest item and come Christmastime, we always had gifts under the tree, even if it meant she did without. Perhaps that is why I still go all out for Christmas, and sometimes my husband says I go a bit overboard, I’m just carrying on a tradition she started.
Because of that memory I make it a point to instill those same lessons in my own children. While I am lucky enough to provide them with more than I ever had, I do my best to ensure that they appreciate what they have and that they know how lucky they are. Especially around Christmas time when my husband and I remind them as we take them to shop for gifts for less fortunate children after we’ve chosen an “Angel” or two off the tree.
Teaching my children the same lessons you taught me isn’t always easy, but it is necessary.
For making me a better person, for making me a better Mother, Thank you Mom!
I love you.
Happy Mother’s Day!