We all grow up in a different family setting. We may all grow up in the same household, being raised by the same parents, but each of grows up in a different family dynamic.
I teach this often in my counseling approach.
No two siblings have the same life. Where the oldest may have experienced an excited new mother, the second child may have experienced an overwhelmed mom, and the third child may have experienced the influence of the siblings more than the birth mother, after all, the older sibling usual places themselves in the caregiver/leader position.
For me, the youngest of four biologically children to my mother, and only child of my mother and father, I had a very different life. I had the role of baby and sometimes only child, when I visited my father and stepmother (a stepmother who entered my life at a very young age.)
The mother I experienced had survived two divorces. She put herself back in school to finish her degree in Respiratory Therapy. She knew the sadness of both her ex-husbands finding other mates, yet she stayed single, and sometime lonely. I remember a mom who was melancholy most times but spontaneous at other times.
With the help of her parents, my grandparents, I was able to experience opportunities that I see my kids doing and take for granted. Dancing, sports, baton, or whatever I was involved in, my mother made the best of trying to watch me, plus hold down a full time and all the work that goes with raising children. It was not perfect. It was not always pretty. But we survived, and she survived.
My favorite memories of my mom where mid-1970s and they consisted of watching her regain herself. Hearing Helen Reddy, Jim Croce, Anne Murray, and Carly Simon belt out “I am Woman”, “You’re So Vain”, and others gave her strengths. I remember watching her sing loudly, proudly, and looking at me smiling.
The mother I remember begin to explore other ideologies in a search for self awareness and self discovery. I was witness to most of it and now I am thankful for that, as I too, am intrigued with different thoughts and cultures. As I entered my teen years, she entered a more professional lifestyle, enjoying a career path of second-hand politics, and dressing up for business meetings and teaching night classes in respiratory education and smoking cessation. She would come later at night but seeing her drive up with a “Hot Now” Krispy Kreme box and sitting with her talking about work is but a mere memory yet a life lesson for me to have absorbed and often doing the same with my kids.
I miss her. I miss the 1970s mom and her signing her heart out to “I Haven’t Got TIme for the Pain” in her 1976 Red Pacer.
Today I, as I lay back and listen to Helen Reddy, I consider her song, “Peaceful” and remember the memories of a mom I knew long ago, yet is still with me, in me, and encouraging me to sing at the top of my lungs…
‘Cause it’s, oh, so peaceful here
There’s no one bending over my shoulder
Nobody breathing in my ear
Oh, so peaceful here