Early Life Lessons
My mother was the 3rd oldest of 12 kids. Being the oldest girl, she was responsible for doing household chores for my grandmother right after she gave birth to the younger siblings.
My mother told us how she would have to stand tippy toe on top of an upside down bucket just to reach the sink or how she would carry a bowl with flour and other ingredients to her mother’s bedside so her mother could mix up the dough to make biscuits for the rest of the family.
Sadly, my mother would spend the majority of her childhood helping to care for her younger siblings and eventually she’d end up a 20 year old divorcee with 3 small kids of her own.
A few years later, she would eventually remarry and add 2 more kids to the mix.
After raising 3 kids of my own, I can definitely appreciate how challenging it had to be for my mom.
While I can’t say that being a wife and mother has been easy, I can say that my situation has been a lot easier than my mom’s.
I was allowed to grow up without the responsibility of having to take care of anyone else. I got married at the age of 23 and started having kids at the age of 26. My husband wasn’t abusive and he was committed to doing what ever he had to do to take care of us.
Growing up in a family of 14, being a single mom to 3 kids, and eventually taking care of a family of 7 caused my mom to be a very practical woman.
Unfortunately, I can’t say that I appreciated my mom’s practical nature. In fact, much of my life I’ve hated it.
I remember this one time when my older sister and I were invited to a formal dance. We were in our mid teens. I was so excited to get all dressed up and fancy because we were always so plain. Often we looked like little old ladies because my mom shopped our clothes from the clearance racks of the Missy department.
In my mind, this was gonna be our chance to shine and maybe even catch the attention of a couple boys for a change.
Boy was I disappointed when we ended up wearing basic homemade linen dresses. Mine was powder blue I think.
When we drove up to the party, we could see all of our friends getting out of their cars all dressed up in their pretty floor length formal dresses.
I didn’t even want to get out of the car. I was so embarrassed. I don’t remember much else about that night because I was miserable.
Things I Couldn’t See
After that night, I vowed that this would NEVER ever happen to me again …..even if I had to learn how to make my own clothes. I also decided that if I ever had a daughter she was never going to be embarrassed about her clothes.
Now that I am older, I can see things that I didn’t see back then. I remember now how my mom spent money to have our dresses made by someone else even though she usually sewed our clothes herself. I also remember how we spent hours at Cloth World picking out just the right linen and and pattern for our dresses. She even drove all over town to find me a pair of new white shoes to go with my dress.
I realize now that my mother was just as excited as we were about the dance. I am also sure that she did the best that she could for us and that she did all that she could to make the experience special for us.
Looking back at the situation. I realize how ungrateful and self centered I was.
What I Know So Far
As a wife and mom with a family of my own, I now understand and appreciate my mom’s practicality.
I won’t pretend that I grasped this life lesson right away. I’ve made and bought more than my fair share of unnecessary pieces over the years. Sure it feels good at first, but that feeling doesn’t last very long.
Sadly I didn’t, get to tell my mom how much I appreciated all that she sacrificed for us. If she saw me now, I think that she would probably be relieved to know that we all ended up ok. She would also have the comfort of knowing that all of the hard things she went through weren’t wasted on me or my siblings.
These days I don’t think so much about dressing to fit in or dressing to prove my worth, because that doesn’t work. Self-worth and acceptance is an inside job and that all starts with me.