Yeah, I know it’s the wrong holiday, but stay with me for a moment. Thanksgiving has come and gone, which means Christmas is just around the corner. It’s a time to celebrate and reflect on the important things in our lives. For me, this is family, though that wasn’t always the case.
I grew up in a home with one younger sibling, and a mother and father that worked swing shifts. I never heard them complain about the crazy hours they had to work just to make ends meet though. As their schedules changed on a weekly basis, going from first, second and third shift, so did my sleep schedule. When I was younger, I would sometimes take naps after school, just to be awake when they got home. As I got older, I would take naps while they were home, just so I could stay awake while they were gone.
By the time I hit my teen years, many of my friends were four to five years older, and as a result, I grew up faster than I probably should have. Saying that I was a handful might be an understatement, but my parents put up with me and my wild ways. I had a hair-trigger temper, hated school because it bored me to death, exceeded the speed limit at every opportunity, and generally did my own thing, never taking crap from anyone, especially authority figures.
Many parents would have kicked a son like me out of the house, while others may have taken more drastic measures. I certainly would not have put up with a child that acted the way I did. Although, I can honestly say that had my parents been the typical authority figures, my life would probably be much different today. Chances are that I would have been in jail at some point. That fate however, was not in my path, and I owe it to a mother and father that never showed me anything but love, regardless of the way I acted. This of course could only be seen through the lens of time.
While I may have a few regrets in life, one of the biggest is not expressing the proper gratitude during my teen years to parents that never pushed me away by imposing controls on my life. They knew me well enough to know when to step in, and more importantly, when to back off. By giving me space to grow as a person, they never stifled my personality. Throughout my life, their constant stability gave me courage and helped make me the person I am today.
My father passed away in 1999, and he was more than just a dad to me, he was a friend. He taught me integrity, honor, and to always stand by my word. Family meant a lot to him. The last thing he asked of me was that I take care of my mother.
My mother is more than capable of taking care of herself though. At least that’s what I remember thinking at the time. Out of all the people I’ve ever known, she is one of the strongest and most self-sufficient. I attribute my stubbornness to succeed, relentless focus, and giving 110% to everything that I do, all because of her influence. Without her, I would not be a responsible adult. Well, somewhat responsible anyway. I still march to the beat of a different drum.
This Christmas has me thinking about family, and all the missed opportunities to express how much I love them. In particular, the regrets of my youth, and not thanking my parents properly for helping to shape who I am. So, I know it’s not the right holiday, but mothers should be celebrated more than just once a year.
Mom, I am grateful to be your son. I could not have asked for better parents. Thank you for always being there for me, and for being the rock in my life when I had no one else to lean on. You have taught me more than you could possibly imagine. I know we are different in many ways, and that’s because you never tired to put me in a mold. Instead, you let me make my own choices that helped define my character, and I love you for that. Happy Mother’s Day.