In the spirit of [belated] Mother’s Day…
My mom is a firm believer in “tough love”.
Growing up I was grounded at least once a week. My own mother turned me into the police and sent me to Youth Court when she found out I had three friends over to drink when I was 15. I don’t know why she was so mad. We were really classy about it with our 30 rack of Keystone Light. But, she was. And when I was suspended from cross country as a result, she said she hoped it would teach me a lesson.
Then there was the time she washed my mouth out with soap. I think I called my sister stupid. Or when she completely unhinged and removed my sister’s bedroom door claiming “until you learn to respect me, you don’t deserve privacy”. My sister showed her though and filled up the space with a sweet beaded curtain.
At 16 she threatened to leave me on the side of a highway when I was throwing a fit and giving attitude about something. I’m sure many parents have issues similar threats but here’s the thing with my mom: THEY ARE NEVER EMPTY THREATS. She actually did leave me on the side of the road for a good three minutes before she turned around to get me.
One time my mom told me I couldn’t go to church on Christmas Eve with my best friend’s family. She told me I. Couldn’t. Go. To. Church.
Why? Well because it’s something that meant a lot to me of course, and as a single mom raising two daughters while going to school full time, she had learned that the best way to punish was to take away something that matters.
Call it twisted (I sure spent a lot of years doing so) but whatever mad-man method my mom used raising us, we came out just fine. And the weird part? Now we respect her for it. I appreciate that she never gave us the easy way out.. always made us pay half when we just had to have that new pair of jeans.
As tough, and psychotic, as she was/is, she never let us forget how much she really cared. Sure, she did make me sleep in my own throw up once after I threw such a bad tantrum I puked everywhere, but she also wrote, and still writes, us letters telling us how proud she is. She remembers that my favorite candy is Whoppers and that as much as I bitch about how much I hate all the self-help books she gave me as a child, I really do enjoy reading them.
I’m pretty sure we all had some sort of unconventional upbringing. The key though is recognizing how it turned you into who you are today, and disregarding that your mom woke you up at 3:00 a.m. in February to take the garbage to the curb like you said you’d do the night before.
And yes, she really made me stand under this sign.