Do you ever wonder what it was like for your parents when they were kids? I don’t think about my dad’s youth as much as I do my mom’s. That’s probably because she was the rule-maker of our home.
And the enforcer too.
When I was a kid, I didn’t think about or care what made her the way she was, I was more concerned with ducking her flip-flop as she tried to swat me with it for not doing what I was told.
But as an adult, I have to wonder what it was like for her growing up in that little farmhouse in Michigan with four brothers and three sisters.
She was born in the spring of 1924, unless you go by what her headstone reads. Not sure how that happened, but it’s off by a year. She was the second child of eight, in a home that would soon be crowded.
She was also a daughter, during the Great Depression, to simple farm folks trying to survive during a time that was filled with uncertainty. I have only one photo of her as a child, and not one photo of her smiling.
I can imagine it must have been hard growing up in those times, and know that must have shaped her and her parenting style. But I wish I had more information about her day-to-day life when she was young.
By the time she was my mom, she was 35 and had already experienced so much hardship.
I was also her ninth child, so I don’t think there was a lot of patience left for me. Can you imagine having nine children by the age of 35?
Looking back now, I can sort of understand why she had some of her rules, but back then I just thought she was mean. One of the most frustrating rules for me was, I had to clean my plate of all the food she had served me.
She would make me sit at the table, for hours if necessary, and finish every bite of food on that damn plate. I’m surprised I don’t have food issues from that, but maybe I do and don’t know it.
I hated eating meat.
The reasoning behind that was, the meat I was eating was out in the yard or a pen earlier and it had eyes and ears and a mouth and a personality. At least I imagined it had a personality.
So I devised ways of tricking her and the system to get the food off my plate, but not in my mouth. I got good at it too. In my heart I want to believe she knew of my tricks and gave me those wins, but I know that’s not the case.
She wasn’t the kind of mother that gave us wins. Could it be because she had so few triumphs in her life? I’ll never know the answer to that question, and so many more.
So I make them up to fill in the gaps and blank spots of who my mother was. And that will just have to do for now.