Bad Daughters and Good Mothers

Me & Mom Greg & Marie's weddingI was almost – almost – a bad daughter today.  Today is my mom’s birthday.  I didn’t even realize the date until I was signing a form this afternoon and had to ask for it.  Right there in the middle of the doctors office I blurted out “Oh CRAP!”


I hadn’t wished my mom a happy birthday!


Bad daughter.


So I quickly redeemed myself and promptly called her and sang her happy birthday.


Whew – just missed the bad daughter tag for the day!  Then I became the birthday police.


Then I immediately text my nephew to remind him to wish grandma a happy birthday.  To his credit he was taken to the hospital a couple nights before and is still recovering so I knew he might not have remembered.


Next I will tell my son to be sure to call, although he might surprise me, he is pretty good about birthdays.  He did grow up with a dad who kept insisting my birthday was a week later than what it really was – he learned quickly.


It is my job to remind the kids about birthdays because I’m the only adult child left.  We lost my brother and sister some years ago so I’m the last of the brood.


My mom worked in payroll for over 30 years for a company and after retirement decided she really missed the work and is now working part time in payroll for an accounting firm.


I realized that my mom should have been in management.


She was one hell of a manager.


Sitting here thinking it is pretty amazing looking at the paths of us three kids.  All completely different, all raised in the same home by the same great parents – three separate and seemingly un-relatable people.


But my mom was the glue.  She was the quiet force gently and sometimes not so gently, more manipulating guiding us through trials and tribulations.


My brother was the super-smart, ultra quick witted restless one.  My sister was the wild child and I was somewhere in between, more the pleaser with a hidden streak of independence.


My mom allowed me to experience while keeping an eye on me; still does.  I wear leggings just for her because she is convinced they are tights and are inappropriate.  Yep, I love my mom so much that I do this just to bug her.  I’m over 40 and she still questions my wardrobe.  Quintessential mom.


When I was a very young mother she never told me I should do this or that, how to raise my or handle my marriage.  She listened, she was there but she never offered the advise to tell me which road to go.


This was huge for me.  My brother she could tell her opinion, they were of like minds, he would get it.  Me, I was stubborn.  I had to see for myself so telling me anything was futile.  She managed our relationships based upon the individuals.  Awesome management.


She also taught by living as an example.


My mom is all about the family.  She is the one that instilled family first, last and always within me and the fact that family is not a cut and dried thing.


Many people think it very odd that my ex-husband and I are very close friends.  Nothing romantic, he just happens to be one of my best friends.


For years after the divorce he still attended all the family functions, he does today.  We vacation together occasionally to see friends that we both have.  We attended our son’s sporting and school events together as parents.  Divorced parents, but parents supporting our son.  Period.


I learned this from my mom.


Family doesn’t stop because people divorce.  Family is an amazing, crazy, complicated exclusive and never-ending type organization.


My ex-husband has two children from his first marriage.  I haven’t technically been their step-mom for almost 15 years, but they will always be my step-kids.  My ex-fiancé has a son who will be 17 next month.  I was never legally his step-mom but he will always be my step-son.  All these children are a part of my heart, no matter where they go and even if they do not claim me.


It doesn’t matter.  Family is family.


You see I grew up with three sets of family – my mom’s, my dad’s and ex’s.  Yes, I have three sets of grandparents and an amazing extended family.  Divorce didn’t matter.  Once you were a part of our family there is no getting out.  We love you till the end.


I would not be the woman I am today without the loving influence of my mom.


I would not be as strong as I am today without the example set by my mother.


Within two years my mother lost her only son, her husband and her mother.  My brother and grandmother died within months of each other.


She was grieving the loss of her mother to whom she was very close with shortly after grieving the loss of her first born child.  In about a year she was grieving the loss of her husband of 30 years.


Shortly before my dad passed she and my dad adopted my nephew.


She was grieving the loss of three of the most important people in her life and facing life as a single parent with a young child.


That, my friends, is strength.


She found her way, teaching all of us along the way, just putting one foot in front of the other.  I’ve only seen that type of strength one other time.


She went from a woman terrified of speaking to groups in public to leading the United Way Campaigns for her entire organization.  She took chances, tested her wings; sometimes falling often times soaring.


She also taught me life goes on and life is good.  After a decade of rebuilding, growing and being independent she reconnected with her childhood love.  Jim proposed to her when she was a sophomore in high school and again over 40 years later.


Together they continue to teach me; Jim, too is all about family.  He has fully accepted and embraced our strange little organization and we him.  And he fully embraces and supports my mom.


So today on her birthday I wanted to express the thoughts out loud that I carry with me every day.


I was raised by a mother who did not believe in being my friend, but my mother; however, as an adult I am so blessed to be able to see her as my mom, my confidant, my co-conspirator, the one I like to intentionally goad now and then and my friend.


How did a bad daughter get so lucky to have such a good mother?



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.


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