From a very young age my Mother and I were good friends. We had four years where I was the only child and we grew a strong bond. Even though she was really almost a child herself she spent time with me, read to me, played with me, and talked with me. I’m convinced that anything good in me has come from my Mother. Watching how she handled and sacrificed herself through many trials she never gave up. She always did what she saw as best for her family even if I didn’t always see it at the time.
Being young and a bit rebellious, as many teenagers can be, she found herself in a relationship and married to an abusive alcoholic. Having moved across the Country with no friends or family I can only imagine how stuck and helpless she felt. This whole part of her life could easily be a best selling novel. Thankfully she found a great support system within a Church. Despite the abuse and very real threats on her life if she were ever to leave, and with the Churches help, she found the courage and the strength to take us three kids and get away.
It took lots of planning and one day while he was away at work we packed up what we could and flew away. The actual leaving was only the first part though. We were essentially in hiding. We couldn’t move close to family for fear of being found, so we moved close to friends she had made within her Church community. I’m still amazed at the strength this had to take. It’s not hard to understand that after an experience like that, and the support received, she would then become deeply involved with the Church.
We spent most of my child hood living on social assistance with my mother doing what ever she could to make ends meet. Knowing how much money we lived on blows me away. How she ever kept us all fed and housed let alone with the extras we managed to scrounge is almost unbelievable. Although I didn’t always see it this way. There were many times I was angry at her when we couldn’t do things like other families, or I couldn’t get something I wanted because there wasn’t the money for it. The way my mother handled this though taught me how to work hard and how to manage money.
For the next seven years she raised three kids on her own. I get overwhelmed with my four kids and I have an amazing wife and the support of all my family around. Knowing that you weren’t going to have anyone show up to give you any sort of break had to be demoralizing at times. It’s no wonder that when she finally met a man who recently started at her Church she ended up rushing into marrying him.
Unfortunately he didn’t really share the values she was looking for, and he certainly didn’t want to be a family man. He was still a step up from her last husband as there wasn’t physically abuse. But things like lies, unfaithfulness and lots of fighting are certainly not the building blocks of a healthy marriage. The one good thing that came out of this short lived union is my youngest sister. He showed his true colours even more after she was born by not being a part of her life at all.
It was about this time that I started falling away from the beliefs of the Church I had been brought up in. Although I very much appreciate the people who supported my family I can separate the community side of things from the religious side. I love the community aspect just not everything else that came with it. This falling away partly caused me to rebel against my mother and the beliefs of the Church, this put a large strain on mine and my Mothers relationship.
A few years later she was introduced to a man who had been a long member of her Church but not from our local area. He was also divorced and they met at a single adult event the Church put on. This man truly held the same beliefs my mother had and is a kind a gentle man. He worked hard to to get to know all of us and was completely fine with the fact that my mother was a single parent of four children and that we were a package deal.
When he proposed I was happy for her and I knew he would treat her the way she deserved to be treated and be a faithful and loving husband. However I was not happy for myself. After moving around a lot in my early years and struggling to make good friends I was finally in a place where I was happy. Being only a couple years away from graduating from high school this would mean I would have to once again pack up and move away. By telling my mother that I was not going to move with her it almost caused her to call off the wedding. Thankfully I had the good sense to set aside my selfishness and told my mother to go ahead with the wedding and that I would move with her.
Once they were married, and the move was complete, it didn’t take me long to make my way back to my friends leaving my family behind. This put even more stain on our already rough relationship. In fact long periods of time would go by where I wouldn’t even talk to her. Although I feel ashamed at the worry and grief I must have caused her, almost throwing my life away by dropping out of school and not having a fixed address, I feel I learned a lot about myself and gained experiences that has helped me become who I am today.
Eventually I moved back with my family but I was still head strong to go my own way. I’m quite certain the birth of my oldest daughter is my what saved me, putting me back on a proper life path. No matter what I did or the pain I must have caused my Mother still was always there for me when ever I needed her. When my relationship with my oldest’s mother came to an end she welcomed me to move in until I got back on my feet again, no questions asked.
My mother has spent the last 18 years raising her kids and turning the 200+ year old house that she had moved into with her husband from, what my youngest sister described as a haunted house, into a warm and loving home. A few years ago though my youngest sister left home and this left just the two of them. Recently my mother has also fallen away from the Church. With no children left to worry about, and their diverging beliefs, it was just a matter of time before the marriage would come to an end.
Just like the rest of the Church community, I will always be grateful to her husband. He played a great role in all our lives over the years and helped raise my sisters. When ever I needed anything he was always there and happy to do what he could to help as well. During their lives together my Mother was able to grow from a single parent on social assistance to an even stronger and more brave woman than she already was. She actually works two jobs where she will be able to provide for herself and one of them is an absolute perfect fit. She works at a shelter for women and children. Her personal experience and her grace under pressure give her the ability to make a difference and help people the way she was once helped.
Yesterday I went and helped her move out of this home she had built. The whole time all I could think of is how proud I am of her. It has to be a scary thing to move out on her own and leave a home and a marriage she as put almost two decades into. Let alone away from the safety of a two income home and the Church community she has dedicated so much of her life to. It won’t be a popular decision with everyone and I’m sure there is going to be hurt feelings and eventually sides chosen. I hope that isn’t the case, however it seems inevitable in times like this.
I’m proud of my Mother, and I’m extremely grateful that we worked through our rough times so we are once again friends. She is finally going to have the opportunity to live her life for her. She has dedicated so much time sacrificing for other people she has earned the right to do what ever she wants to be happy. As her son, and friend, I will do what ever I can to help her achieve that.