Mom, I’m Sorry

My mom is better than your mom! It’s true, at least in my eyes.  I’ve spent a lifetime watching other mothers, and although I’ve seen all kinds, even exceptionally good ones, I have never come across one as amazing as my own. If motherhood was a competition my mom would take the gold, the big trophy; she would win highest honors. My mom is the supreme queen of all mothers.

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Mom and Dad

Her name is Kathryn, but most people call her Kay.  Her seven children, and many other people as well, call her Mom. Mom gave birth to five kids, adopted two more, and raised us all to be intelligent, successful, prosperous, selfless contributors to society. She, together with her husband, raised all her kids into the good and admirable people they are today.  Yes, we are all independent thinkers who make our own decisions in life, but we wouldn’t be as strong and successful and well grounded as we are if it wasn’t for the great upbringing we were provided by our mother (and father).

Mom succeeded in being a perfect mother while also working a full-time nursing job. Oh, and did I mention there were three type 1 diabetics under her roof? Three.  As if one isn’t difficult enough, she had to deal with three of us. Can you imagine the constant worry?  Every mother worries to no end about her healthy kids and keeping them that way.  Mom had to worry about her diabetic husband and two diabetic children, as well as all her other kids.

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Mom and I, 1988

She was a supporter in many ways.  She brought in a paycheck right beside Dad’s. She had the medical knowledge needed to take care of type 1 diabetics.  She cooked healthy, well-balanced meals. Dad cooked, too, but mom did more in that area. She checked blood sugars on occasion (we were taught to do things on our own, in preparation for adulthood), treated highs and lows when they happened, and held and comforted us when we cried out the frustrations of being diabetic. She masterfully dealt with bad tempers, mood swings, pessimistic attitudes, and everything that comes with the territory of diabetes. She made sure we got to our doctor’s appointments, did our labs, and stayed stocked up on supplies.

Dad died about 25 years after they had gotten married. Obviously this ripped Mom’s heart right out of her body. Dad had a stroke brought on by complications of diabetes. It all happened so fast, one moment she was kissing him goodbye as she left for work, and then next moment she was getting a call at work that something bad had happened.

I remember seeing her that night, on her hands and knees. Mom had gone through loss and tragedy more than once before, but this was the first time in my entire eleven years of life that I had witnessed, and somewhat comprehended, that my mom was human and not some divine being of perfection. Dad wasn’t dead yet, but mom was no fool. She knew what was coming and it tore her to bits.  She couldn’t handle it all, it hit her too sudden, the devastation, the terror, the loss of half herself.  She couldn’t function and so she got on her hands and knees and scrubbed the kitchen floor. I stood there at the edge of the kitchen and watched my mother for a while.  I didn’t understand at first why she was doing this. It was the middle of the night, Dad was in a vegetative state in the hospital, and mom was scrubbing the kitchen floor…with her tears.

Oh, I get it now.

Her husband was gone and she still had two kids left to raise.  Both diabetic. Her other five kids were all grown up now, but who are we kidding, they still needed their mommy.  So now she did it alone.  And she did a damn good job.

Diabetes is expensive.  Even with good insurance the out-of-pocket cost is high. And Kay had to pay for two diabetic teenagers.  Raising two teenagers all on your own nurses pay is difficult enough, but now add the cost of diabetes supplies, times two. She worked a ton of over time to make ends meet.

She worried to no end about her kids.  She couldn’t be there all the time to make sure they were checking their blood sugar, taking proper insulin doses, eating healthy, etc..  She had to use her days off to get us to doctor appointments, do our labs, and pick up yet more supplies.

She sacrificed time, energy, money, and some of her dreams and desires in order to ensure we were safe, happy, and as healthy as possible.

I wasn’t having any of it, though. I never did one thing my mother begged of me. I never checked my blood sugar, I ate what I wanted, not what she taught me was healthy, not what she spent her money to stock the fridge with for me. I rebelled, I neglected, I was totally disobedient when it came to diabetes.

I wasn’t all bad, though. I knew Mom was exhausted and overworked, so I made sure to clean the house twice a week. I kept things straightened up all the time. I rarely asked for things I didn’t absolutely need, because I knew Mom couldn’t afford it.

Despite her hardships, Mom provided a more than wonderful childhood for us. We never wanted for anything we needed, and often got things we wanted. We were loved and cared for. And she taught us how to be responsible adults.

She never once complained. She never once showed how hard it was for her.  I do, however, remember on more than one occasion hearing her cry in her bedroom at night. She was lonely, she was scared, she worried.

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Mom’s wedding day, 1998

Then the day came when she got her reward for a lifetime of hard work and selflessness.  After her two youngest kids were grown up and making a life for themselves, she fell in love, got married, and was swept away to the mountains.  And she got to retire early!

Today, Mom still takes care of her kids. You never stop being a mom. She’s always there when her kids need guidance, or just an ear to bend.  And always when a shoulder is needed to cry on, she opens her arms and gives all her love and comfort. If something is wrong, then Mom will always know how to fix it.

Mom, as your child it was one of my jobs to hurt you, and I think I succeeded too well sometimes.  But I hope I also succeeded at my other job, to grow up and be everything you raised me to be. I know the world sees your children and thinks, “My God, they must have the most amazing mother”.

Yes, we do have the most amazing mother.

I can never adequately express my undying love and gratitude for my mother.  She did everything right.  She is the strongest person I know.  She taught me how to live and persevere.

Thank you, Mom, I truly would never have survived this long without you.  I love you.

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Mom and her kids, 2015
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