By Staci Welch-Bartley
I am the youngest of five kids. My father died when I was seven years old. My mother found herself alone with five kids wondering how in the world she would continue on without any life insurance. It was the 70’s. Although the fight for women’s rights was in the early stages, single parent households and women in the workplace were rare.
As I look back, I marvel at how my mom navigated all that was thrust upon her in those days. I asked her once as adult when she cried. As a child, from my eyes, she always seemed strong, confident, and ready to take on the world. She told me that she cried as she drove to and from work. Sometimes, she would pull over because she needed more time before she arrived at the house. She continued on, just kept living, and cried when necessary.
I had my first boyfriend at the age of thirteen. We were going steady and this meant that he would walk me to and from my classes and to my house after school, all while holding hands of course! We were really in love! Three weeks later, he broke up with me by having his buddy meet me at our meeting spot after school for the traditional walk home to give me the news. “Sam doesn’t want to go steady with you anymore,” he said while wiping his nose on his shirtsleeve.
Without any words, I turned towards home and ran as fast as I could. It seemed that the closer I got to my house, the harder I cried. At last, I reached the house. I ran up the front porch stairs, sprinted down the hallway to my bedroom where I threw my books and papers on the floor. I immediately flung myself on my bed and began to bawl my eyes out. In that moment, I just knew that I would never find true love again. NEVER. There could NEVER be another person like Sam. My life was over!
I must have wailed on my bed for the next two hours, oblivious to time. The next thing I remember is mom coming home from work and finding me in a full on tizzy.
She asked me what happened. I told her that Sam had broken up with me. She put her purse down, sat on the edge of my bed, and began to stoke my hair with one hand and wipe the tears off of my checks with the other. She asked me to tell her all about it. The floodgates opened again as I retold my experience of being informed that Sam was done with me, and how my life was completely over. Even more tragic was that true love for me was forever gone!
Mom began rubbing my back while my face was buried in my soggy pillow. “That is something", she said. After a long pause, she told me what she was going to do. She said she was going to step out of my room for 20 minutes, and that while she was gone, she wanted me to cry my heart out. She gave me permission to throw the biggest fit I could muster. Then, she told me when she came back it was time to pull up my bootstraps and get busy making dinner. I remember thinking that she obviously didn’t realize how serious this situation was!
Looking back now, I recognize this is how my mom managed and navigated all that life had thrown at her. Her teaching me to feel and express my feelings and then get back to living… She both taught and demonstrated this life building skill. Mom once said, “The sun will shine in this house and our hearts whether it is shining outside or not.” She meant it.
I love you MOM! Happy Mother’s Day.