Help. Hope. Healing.

Happy Mother’s Day

By Rex Goode

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On this day, when we in America celebrate mothers, I want to wish all mothers who visit this site a very happy Mother’s Day. It may seem like a strange place for such a greeting, considering the focus of this site. However, it seems to me that mothers here, whether dealing with addiction or with a family member with an addiction, could use a bit of warm wishes.

I feel like a Mother’s Day message is best served by a tribute to my mother. Since this site is devoted to family issues of a very difficult nature, I would bet that a lot of people here, mothers and their children, find the topic of mothers difficult.

I know that many people who read here had very strained relationships with their mothers. Not so for me. She was really good to me.

She wasn’t perfect. I felt she could have been a little more demonstrative of her love and more open to talk about difficult things. I should clarify that I was never anything but certain of my mother’s love. Yet, under my stepfather’s influence, she seemed to have the attitude that for a mother to show too much affection to a little boy might engender homosexual feelings in him. Well, that didn’t work out so well.

I also found it hard to relate to her when I was going through trouble in my life because she deeply believed that people shouldn’t talk about their problems. That came from her family of origin. She always disliked her siblings openly talking about their problems. As a result, when I had problems, it was not her that I turned to.

So, having gotten my two main complaints out of the way, I’ll say focus on the things I really appreciate. I can’t really name in this short space all of the things that I believe my mother did right that made me so resilient and determined.

A lot of her influence on me comes by example. She endured a lot of heartache in her life. I never saw it easy for her. From the death of her oldest child when he was only four, through raising mentally ill stepchildren, to her last fight with cancer, she remained for me the epitomy of strength and courage. I remember in her final months, when she first found out about the cancer. she said, “I haven’t had a lot of pain in my life. I know that other people have and if they can do it, so can I.”

That statement amazed me. If she was only talking about emotional pain, I would have been amazed that she considered her life to have been relatively pain free. So much happened over the course of her sixty-plus years that I couldn’t imagine her saying she hadn’t had a lot of pain. At the same time, I also knew that she had not been free of physical pain. There were broken legs, broken arms, and a nasty case of bursitis in her shoulder. Much of her older years were spent with her not being able to lift her arm.

Her sense of fun got her through a lot. She could laugh and enjoy herself almost anywhere. She always seemed young at heart. I remember her being called to work in the Young Women’s organization several times in her life. Even when she was middle-aged, they called her as an advisor. I think they tend to call younger women, but my mom’s sense of fun and adventure helped her relate to Laurels.

It was sad to me when I heard rumors that she wasn’t thought of as a good choice for a Young Women’s leader because she had married a nonmember. There was no greater proponent of temple marriage than my mother. I never considered anything less for myself because of her.

She labored for many years under the desire of going to the temple for her endowments. In those days, a woman married to a nonmember could not be endowed. When that changed, it was a glorious day for her.

She had this way of cutting through nonsense that really made people think. She could see both sides of an issue, but could really stand up for the right with cleverness and wisdom.

Probably the most important thing she did for me was to believe in me. My mother always had this sense of my future that was full of good things. She felt I was special and destined to do great things. When she found out that some of the things I was doing were not so great, she would gently and proudly remind me that I was better than the things I was choosing to do. There was no condemnation in it. There was occasionally a bit of worry in it, but always, always looking forward to a better future and a better me.

I take that with me now. As I struggled with sexual addiction and same-sex attraction, I always remembered inside that I was better than what I was doing and could do better. It was a powerful force for change in me. Many years ago, I read a poem that really tells this.

The Man My Mother Thinks I Am
By Will S. Alkin

While walking down a crowded city street the other day
I heard a little urchin to a comrade turn and say;
“Say, Jimmy, do you know I’d be as happy as a clam
If I only was the feller dat me mudder tinks I am,

She tinks I am an angel and knows her little lad
Would never mix wit nuthin’ dat was ugly mean or bad.
Sometimes I sit alone and tink how nice ‘twould be, gee whiz!
If a feller was the feller dat his mudder tinks he is.”

My friends, be yours a life of toil or undiluted joy.
We all can learn a lesson from this small, unlettered boy;
And, whether rich or whether poor, we’d happier be by far
If we only were the fellers that our mothers tink we are.

Mom, wherever you are, and I know it’s somewhere good, thanks for thinking that this little lad was an angel. Right back at ya.

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