Updated: Aug 26
My mom would oftentimes talk aloud to herself, as many of us do. Personally, I like to speak reminders for myself, in hopes of remembering something important, or say something quippy, because although there is no one else to hear it, I find it too funny not to express.
While these examples may be relatable, I don’t recall my mom doing either of them; I only remember her saying mean things to herself. I remember her audibly belittling herself, as if she had no value to the world, to our family, or to me, because of a silly mistake she had made.
“You’re so stupid, Dorothy. Why did you do that?”
“You can’t do anything right, can you?”
While she did some big things wrong, like raise my brother and I in a pseudo-Christian cult, she also did a lot of things well. She had an excellent work ethic; upon retirement, her position was so extensive that it had to be broken up among several different people. Her cooking I sadly took for granted; though my brother holds that Hormel brand chili is better, I highly disagree, and we both know her homemade waffles are the best. Not all of us were raised on home-cooking like I was, the kind of meals made with love and by request, when possible. My husband’s mother, God bless her, microwaved everything. The poor man didn’t think he liked bacon until he married me; can you imagine!
Oh, and she would tickle my back or rub my feet until I was over it, which took this physical touch girl a very long time. I remember her hands would pause or take to the the air when she got talking, instead of staying on task. I would wiggle my feet or nudge her as a reminder to keep tickling or rubbing. And she did. My dad was right that I was spoiled, but not with things or with getting my way all the time. I was spoiled with loving gestures like this from her. She beautifully modeled so many precious aspects of motherhood. Her love for me was deep, of that I have no doubt.
My dad didn’t recognize and appreciate the incredible woman devoted to him. He cut her down for every single detail that wasn’t to his particular taste or unfounded standard. I don’t say this from lack of love for him, because I do love him. I say it because it’s true. His opinion or preference was always “right” and failing to innately be on the same page rendered the other person inferior, and this other person needed to be aware of their inferiority so they could learn for the next time. He verbally wore on her, picking up where her depressing upbringing and heartbreaking first marriage had left off.
But here’s the really special secret, one that she and I share. Lean in, and I’ll whisper it to you: no one ever succeeded in fully suffocating her spunk. Even a lifetime of eating from a buffet of abuse could not fully take her down. Isn’t that incredible?