Here’s Looking at You, Mom

coffee, cup, laptop, memeHello, it’s another Thursday morning, but not only that, it’s only 2 more days till Mother’s Day. Are you ready for it?

As a daughter, a mom, and a grandma, I tend to look forward to the day. Growing up, I had many strong women in my life. Women who weren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and get dirty. They wrestled livestock, plowed fields, chopped cotton, picked cotton, shucked corn, and canned their produce in 100-degree weather with no AC.

Friends, those were some stalwart individuals. They’re my heroines in life.

My mom is no less my heroine, though she wasn’t required to live off the land. She was a city girl, transplanted to the country. She didn’t much care for all that hard work, but she never shied away from it. We moved a lot. She counted about forty-two moves, in a recent conversation.

We usually lived in town, where she worked all day at a job, kept a clean house and three mostly well-behaved kids. I was thirteen when Dad finally found a job he liked, and could do well. He started as an insurance salesman and moved up to management. We were transferred from one city to another, because he was a good manager and could build up a lagging office like nobody’s business.

Mom adapted well. She would pretty much go anywhere for her man. He’d found her in Seattle, working the candy counter at a downtown movie theater. She was only seventeen, and he was nineteen when he talked her into marrying him. Still in the Navy, and about to head overseas to Japan, he took her home to his family. Mom ended up in West Tennessee with virtual strangers, waiting for his return.

That was either crazy stupid, or crazy in love. Either way, I’m glad she did it. The fact that she stayed with that man for so many years makes her a heroine in my book. I loved my Daddy. In fact, most everyone loved him. He was a true friend and a good ole boy. We all miss him like crazy.

Now, she shows her bravery in other ways. At eighty-four, she lives alone in a small apartment, an hour away from me, two hours away from big brother, but just a few minutes away from her baby boy, who takes good care of her. She keeps her little space clean as a whistle. Her favorite pastime is reading, and she reads a lot. She says it keeps her mind healthy.

She doesn’t get out a lot, as she’s very hard of hearing, even with a hearing aid. But this woman stays in pretty constant touch with several of her friends from childhood and a couple of family members. She sends out birthday cards and encouraging letters to some who are unable to leave their homes. And they love her letters.

My birthday cards come with lines added beneath the really meaningful parts, along with a few exclamation points. There was a time when this introverted woman never touched me, never told me that she loved me, but I always knew she was there for me. We didn’t always get along, but then I moved out, and we became the best of friends.

Since Dad died, she never lets an opportunity pass to tell me she loves me, or gather me in a bony hug (she’s quite thin). And this is how she is with everyone.

So, Happy Mothers Day, not only to my mom, but to all of you who are reading this, whether you have children of your body, or children of your heart.

And if your mom is still around, don’t forget to call and tell her you love her.

Stay Out of the Attic, Batgirl

coffee, cup, laptop, memeHello, Thursday Morning readers! I’m so excited about spring. But thinking about spring led to thoughts about summer, which led to dread over the inevitable bugs and mosquitoes. Then I remembered seeing bats flying one evening last year.

Creepy? Maybe, but I’m a big fan of bats. In fact—

You may not know this, but I am actually Batgirl. Or at least I was. It was eighth grade, and my schoolmates found out my initials were B.A.T. Batman was a popular TV show at the time (the campy one with Adam West and Burt Ward. It was inevitable. When my classmates realized I was embarrassed, the funny joke became merciless teasing. Every day.

Every. Day.

I soon learned to take it in stride. Made the best of it. Laughed it off. I had an older brother, so I had learned to endure ruthless teasing. He was a world champion at it.

And I was always the new kid. Eleven different schools in twelve years. Yes, eleven.  My dad wasn’t in the service, he was just restless. Other side of the fence, greener grass. You know the story. If not, just ask these cows, they know the struggle well.

So, Batgirl was my claim to fame. Even though those kids were teasing me, for a brief interval, I felt as though I belonged. You see, I secretly longed for attention.

So, I understand when kids go through things, and I know what I’m talking about when I say, pay attention to your children. Listen to them. Encourage them. Be positive. Learn the signs of things like depression, low self esteem, and bullying.

I was a smart kid, but I didn’t know it. Both my parents were products of single-parent homes. Mom’s dad flew the coop. After the divorce, her mother worked long hours as a nurse. My dad’s father was killed when Dad was only two. His mother worked hard just to feed and house her four children. Still, they grew up in poverty. My dad never had a dad.

So, my parents didn’t really know how to give us positive encouragement. They were often too tired from working to care. I don’t fault them, because I know how hard it was. My introverted personality chaffed against all the moving around. Constantly changing schools, having to start all over building friendships, left me scarred. That, and other negatives in my life as a child. I’m not making excuses, just telling the truth. I know how hard it is.

Let’s  talk grades. My attic was in good shape, I had the ability, but I had no encouragement to achieve. If I didn’t know how to do something, if I hadn’t understood the directions, I often left it undone, so homework wasn’t always finished. As a result, my report cards were mediocre at best.

By my senior year in high school, I had found a niche in business courses. My grade average improved to the point where I was no longer totally humiliated. If only I’d done this earlier.

Another thing happened that year. My family started going to church. I followed, and my life changed. Faith strengthened me. I had a greater sense of self-worth and a smile that wouldn’t quit. Take that, Batgirl. I came out of my shell. I had a purpose and a hope for the future.

Bats have a purpose, too. I’m a fan of bats, mainly because they eat mosquitoes. Yes, they can also carry rabies, but so can most of those other critters that inhabit my yard at night. I’m content to see them flitting about the dusky evening sky around my home.

The greatest gift you can give your children is your time. I know that sounds trite, but it’s true. They need to hear things like, “you can do anything you set out to do,” “you’re beautiful,” “you’re important to me.” And not just words, but show them through your actions. Dare I say it? Put your phone down. You can look at that when the children are otherwise occupied. You’ll only have them in your nest for a few years. Make those moments count.


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