It’s Never Too Late to Get to Know Your MotherMay 8, 2016
I wasn’t going to write a post today. But when I woke up this morning thinking about my mom and went to post some pictures of her on Facebook, I decided she deserved more than that.
It’s Never Too Late to Get to Know Your Mother
I’m one of the lucky ones. I had my mom around into her 80’s. She was sharp, vibrant, and engaged until the last few months of her life.
Days like Mother’s Day always seem to dredge up the good, the bad, the sad, and the ugly. We reflect. We rejoice. And sometimes, we repent.
Life is not easy, and the major relationships we have along the way are complex.
And what relationship could be more complex than the one we have with our mother.
Whether she’s still alive and very much a part of our life (in a good way or in a bad way), whether she died giving birth to us or gave us up for adoption, whether she died when we were a vulnerable teenager or a young mother who could have used some guidance, the mother-child bond is like no other.
I had a rather tumultuous relationship with my mom. Nothing abusive – physically, mentally, or even verbally. We just butted heads and I thought we were so different. So why was it so rocky?
My memories of my mom when I was little are very spotty. As I grew to be a teenager, I wanted nothing to do with her. We would fight and then I would write my classic letter of apology because I always communicate better with the written word, rather than the spoken word.
I married at the tender age of twenty, just six months after my older sister. My mother was understandably concerned, not to mention the financial stress it put on our humble household.
I remember having the revelation that once I was married, she ceased “meddling” (my point-of-view) in my life.
When our children came along, she was always there to help out when asked, but she never outwardly judged how we were raising them.
As we both grew older, the battles happened less and less.
You can’t possibly become a parent and not change your point of view. It’s the hardest job in the world.
Still, we didn’t seem to understand each other. One day my mom asked me to explain to her why I was an artist and what it was all about. I had a book that was my bible of sorts at the time called “A Life in the Arts” by Eric Maisel.
My mom, the avid reader, devoured the book and came to me and said: “Now I understand.” Another big moment in our relationship.
But now I have to ask myself the question “What was my mother all about?”
As I look back with clearer vision at the mature age of 62, the story of my mother seems so different.
My forever-taking-pictures father gifted me with visual clues.
Bernadine (aka Bernie) Matyniak Sinclair was a beautiful, athletic, spirited young woman. No wonder my dad fell in love with her. I channel my mom every time I pick up the oars and go for a row at the lake.
She mothered four children (lost another at birth) and grand-mothered nine. And she did this without the role model of her own mother who died when she was a young girl.
She was a voracious reader and no doubt all of our trips to the library passed along this love to me. In her later years, I can’t remember seeing her without a book (or a stack of books) nearby.
She loved to cook. She loved food. My mom died before I met Ralph (he was a chef) but I know they would have had a lot to talk about.
Bernie Sinclair was proud and feisty and funny. Of course, I didn’t think she was funny until I was much older.
She knew how to take her inner child out to play – right up into her 80’s. Whether it was swinging at the park or hopping on a jet ski, Bernie was always game.
I thank God that I was able to let go of expectations, hurt, and bitterness before my mother died. One of the greatest gifts I was given was to be alone with my mom, holding her hand, when she took her last breath.
Thank you, Mom, for everything you sacrificed to have a family. For every book you introduced me to, every picnic lunch you packed, the words of wisdom you spoke, even when I wasn’t listening.
I wish I knew more about your life before you had our family. Or more about your inner life while I was growing up and being self-centered, as most children are. Now, I can only speculate.
Whether your mother is your mother by birth, or adoption, or she’s a stepmom or the woman next door who gives you a safe haven from an unstable home, consider that there is so much more to that person than the role they play with you.
We all have our stories and sometimes the last people to know them fully are our own family members.
It’s never too late to get to know your mother, even if she’s left this earth.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers who have devoted a sacred part of themselves to others.