How Do I Not Become My Mother?. . . . Not That Thats a Bad Thing
My mom was a ROCKSTAR. She came through, as we all do I suppose, a potpourri of life challenges and greater joys. She was born into what appeared to be a Norman Rockwell family and I don’t believe from my great privilege not only to know her, but to be raised by her, that she ever saw it any other way. Her outlook on life not matter what got flung at her was always upbeat and positive.
She lived a full life. After her easy breezy, happy go lucky childhood, she went on to be married to a man that was chosen for her. My dad was a hometown boy and his parents and hers who knew each other over the years, created an arranged marriage for which my mother agreed. Whether before she entered the earth plan in a spiritual contract or because she was a go with the flow, listen to your parents, respect your elders, keep your opinions to yourself, do the right thing kind of girl, she went along with the status quo and was bequeathed to the dashing, middle class, good ole boy from hometown USA, Charles Irving Hopkins, 3rd at the ripe old age of 18. They went on to procreate and raise, yup, six unique and feisty kids over the course of the next nineteen years of wedded bliss and the rest is history. Well, I guess that depends on who’s story you listen too. Each of us have our own version to tell.
Under the surface of her Norman Rockwell façade and young naïve mind and body, was a less than perfect existence. I believe this is true for most of us who have consciously or unconsciously agreed to courageously incarnate into our bodies in the name of growth, lessons through hardship, clearing of karma and God knows what else that we haven’t even discovered or created yet.
She became one of the great stuffers of her emotions at a very young age and perhaps one of the most subtle of rebels as she got older. I was on many occasions throughout my life witness to her rebellious other half. But she did it quietly, stealth like. She didn’t take any shit, but you didn’t really know it. I think two words describe my mother’s greatest strengths. Subtlety and moderation. She had an uncanny ability to only allow herself moderate portions of everything. Because of that discipline, she never became addicted to anything and remained healthy and strong till the morning she simply dropped to her last breath in an instant. I strive to follow in her footsteps. I am a work in progress especially when it comes to sugar. She could have a Hershey’s Chocolate bar in her fridge for a week and not even touch it. She would say, “I am saving it for a special occasion.” As I reflect back, I can see how her role modeling has had such a profound effect on me and that in many ways, I have become her. A big part of me feels honored to know that and yet there is a small part of me that is scared shitless.
During the years of raising my own family, I didn’t spend a lot of time with my mom and she was quite busy with her own career. Sometimes I felt bad about that, but she didn’t seem to mind. In fact, she seemed quite happy in her work and social life. Who knew that in a blink of the eye, I would be facing the same landscape that she so eloquently transcended when the six of us moved on into adulthood, she left her own failed marriage and figured out how to not only survive, but thrive on her own. I hope I can move forward with even a smattering of her grace and resilience.
Over the course of the last five years, me and my mom both lost children. My son Benjamin at the age of eighteen after suffering his whole life with the stigma of mental illness and ending his own life and my sisters and mom’s two oldest daughters, Candace and Lyndsey, to varying cancers. I am very grateful we had each other during those difficult and deeply painful times. It was hard enough to bury one child, but my mom lost a grandson and two precious children. She was a strong, steadfast presence through it all.
Simultaneously, I was going through the painstaking process of leaving a thirty year marriage, coincidentally, or not, at the same age my mom had experienced divorce with my dad. Another interesting parallel in our lives.
During the last few year of her life, I found it deeply painful to witness her aging years knowing she was home alone much of the time with her television, computer and the distant prayer of a word from one of her children or family friends to remind her that she mattered. We all did our best to be there for her. As much as we pray for our children to grow up, live their own lives, chart their own course, when they are gone, we lose a piece of ourselves. I didn’t know that until now.
As I meet this crossroads of empty nest without a life partner and a potent opportunity to bring my own gifts to the world, just like my mom did, I feel blessed and on purpose. Are there days when I have to push away, clear, shift or simply ignore the inner critic who fears being abandoned for the rest of my days, alone with fading memories of the bountiful and chaotic years of raising my beautiful family and waiting for the phone to ring, ABSOLUTELY! And for my girlfriends reading this, I am not busy as you think. CALL ME!
However, like my beautiful mother before me, I will come through with flying colors, a positive attitude, a cheerful outlook and the belief in a picture perfect outcome. As she once told me, “With Faith, All Things Are Possible”. Who knew, being like my mom is not such a bad thing after all.