There are two mothers in my life.  There’s the woman who gave birth to me — my mother, Betty, up in Salmon, Idaho — a bit more than 51 years ago; and there’s my lovely wife, Amy, who gave birth to our three children starting almost 21 years ago.

Mother's Day card
Mother’s Day card (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just so my Pastor Bernie knows I was paying attention during his Mother’s Day sermon yesterday, I look upon both of these women as “lifesavers.”

First, there’s my mother.

Mom was thrown into a very tough situation over 51 1/2 years ago.  To be asleep, at home in your bed while your 2-year-old twins are asleep under the same roof, and to be awakened by a knock on the front door in the middle of the night in order to be told that your husband had been killed in an accident at his mining job that same morning … well, that’s not something you’d wish on anyone.

She had two children — a healthy daughter and a son with cerebral palsy — at home and me on the way, four months away from giving birth.

Mom could have given up.  She didn’t.

She did have help in raising us as children — my sister and I spent a fair amount of time staying at our grandparents’ dairy farm outside of town, and there were other relatives nearby to pitch in when the need arose — but Mom still took on the job of being both a mother and father to us as children with as much determination as she could muster.

She hung tough.  She persevered.  She had to.

Mom endured the loss of her oldest son in 1968.  She tried to do what she felt was the right thing the following year when she married for a second time, perhaps in part to give my sister and I a father figure and to have a companion for herself.  That turned out to be one of the biggest mistakes she could make.  It just turned out to be a match made far from in heaven.  She would endure over two years of pain in various ways from that as well.

At times, it almost became more than she could endure.  Through prayers, she did just that.

Mom still had challenges as a parent in the years to follow.  Again, she had to be both a mother and a father for the most part.  That’s a pretty tall order.  Teenage years can especially be a challenge for any parent, whether there’s two or just one doing the job of raising that teen.  I gave Mom her share of challenges myself.  I was no angel.

Ultimately, she led by example.  Mom was raised herself with a strong sense of values.  Most of the time, she’d pass those values on to us by her example.  Other times (and this is where the father role in her would come out), Mom would pass them on to us by being tough.  I was no exception to that rule.  Through it all, years later, I can look back on the lessons taught to me by my Mom and think to myself, “This woman was wise.  She was wise in these lessons she passed on to me.  And maybe if I’d really listened to her sooner …”

For the most part, though, I did listen to her.  I learned from her.

My values come from her.  My belief in living a simple yet giving life comes largely from her.  My belief in not looking down upon others no matter what my status in life might be comes from her.  My belief in helping others in need as much as possible comes from her, I’ve had people remark to me about how much she’s helped them in the past when they were in a tough situation themselves.  My work ethic comes largely from her.  My strength comes from her.  My endurance comes from her.

She’s a “lifesaver.”

Mothers' Day Cake crop
Mothers’ Day Cake crop (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Then there’s the other mother in my life, my lovely wife Amy.

There are various ways in which my own mother and my wife are similar.  They can both be people who are more pessimistic than me, among those “glass-half-empty at best” people, although Mom can be more on the “down side” when it comes to that.  Like Mom, Amy tends to look down on herself much more than she should and much more than she would with anyone else — tending to look at herself as being not all that attractive, like I’d have to be blind or desperate  to have wanted her.

Like Mom, she goes through more than her share of “down times” because of certain “cards” that have been dealt to her in her life.  Like I do with Mom, I do my best to try and lift Amy up in times like those.

But, like Mom, Amy can also be a very strong person when she gets it in her mind to be that way.  She has to be strong to be married to someone with imperfections like I have.

Amy has taken those “cards” that have been dealt to her and shown a real sense of determination to overcome them.  If someone tells her there’s something she can’t or shouldn’t try to do, she wants to prove them wrong and show that she can do it.

I can also tell you that Amy is tough physically.  I’m a “teaser” like you wouldn’t believe.  I think that’s a personality trait that must have been passed to me from my father’s genes.  There are times when I’ll throw some absolute zingers at my lovely wife, and she’ll know she’s just been a victim of one of my barbs, and she’ll smile and laugh and give me an “Oooohhhh, yyyyyoooouuuu …” just before giving me a solid punch on the arm.  I kid her by saying it felt like a mosquito bite, when in fact it felt like a bee sting.

There are other qualities in Amy that I’ve seen in my own mother’s examples as well, and there have been more than a few times when Amy’s taught me through her own beliefs or her own research how to be a better father to our children myself, corrected me when I’ve needed it when I’ve gone overboard in how I’ve handled our children.  Make no mistake about it, though — like it was with my mother, Amy can be strong in how she deals with our children as well.  Like the time when she threw a ceramic plate on a tile floor to get the message across to one of our children that they had “broken her trust” in them, and that it would take a lot to get that back.

I thought then and I think now about just how strong of a message that was that Amy gave to that child, how powerful a lesson that was.

We’ve had other experiences very recently which have tested our parenting skills, in fairly extreme ways.  Amy has been strong through it all.  She’s persevered.  She’s shed more than a few tears through it all, but she’s toughed it out.

That’s the kind of mother I want for our children.  Someone who can set that kind of example, teach those kinds of lessons, share those values, impart those kinds of beliefs.

I was truly blessed when a long prayer of mine was answered and Amy came into my life.  I needed someone like her.  It’s funny — and our two sons hate it when this happens — but there are many times when people look at Amy and tell her that she doesn’t look old enough to have a child who’s a few months short of 21, and there have been friends of our sons who’ve thought that Amy was their older sister instead of their mother.

But she is definitely their mother.  She doesn’t let our children forget that.

To them, and to me, Amy is a “lifesaver.”

Happy Mother’s Day!

Copyright 2012, Daddysangbassdude Media

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