One Mom’s Story
In 1968, I gave birth to my son Mark. I was 21. He was completely reliant on me and I had to learn very quickly.
At 3 months, Mark’s little face came alive. His blurry eyes became clear blue and opened wide. Smiles, then laughter. Mark turned into a little chubby person. He laughed all the time; at my funny faces, when I tickled him or when we’d play airplane. Mark’s learning to roll over, sit up and crawl were precious milestones to watch. Quickly, his little feet ran. He thought it was fun to run away from me and see if I could catch him. It all happens so fast.
Like all moms, I envisioned Mark growing into a strong, reliant, prosperous and happy young man. So much promise. So many challenges along the way. I worried that I wouldn’t be up to the task. But there was no choice. God gave Mark to me. I had to give my all to Mark.
Becoming a Working Mom
When Mark was about 8 months old, his father came home one night and said he was going back to school and that I needed to go to work. He wanted to get a master’s degree. We lived in California at the time. Parting with my little boy, even for the daytime, was hard.
So, I found a babysitter and got a job at a clinic working for three pediatricians – at least I got free doctor visits for Mark. I fell into the world of being a working mom. After Mark’s dad got his degree, we moved back to Chicago. I got a job at an insurance company downtown.
Mark did well in kindergarten. While he was an average student in the early grades, his grades fell as the years went by. The teachers would tell me, “He’s so bright. If only he applied himself.” I had no idea how to make that happen.
I divorced when Mark was 12.
Rising up to challenges
All through elementary school and into high school, he never rose to his potential. I was so tired at night, that I hardly had the energy to help with homework, so it just didn’t get done. When I went for parent/teacher conferences, it was the same story.
People would ask me how Mark liked school. I would joke that he was a solid D-student. All that changed when he was a junior. The school offered a college night. Something lit up in him. He came home and announced, “I’m going to Illinois State University and majoring in marketing!” I was shocked! The prospect of Mark going to college was something I never believed could happen. The representatives from Illinois State University told him he could probably get in if he improved his grades.
One day soon after this, I went to the school for parent/teacher conferences. Every teacher I went to told me how smart Mark was and that his future was bright. I wondered if they were talking about my Mark. After the conferences, I left the school crying, overwhelmed. Mark was on the steps waiting for me. He said one word: “So?” I hugged him so hard, cried, and told him how proud I was. He turned it around! All by himself. God was watching over us.
Mark finished high school on the honor roll and went to Illinois State University and got a degree in marketing. I could hardly believe I was there watching Mark graduate. There were tears of joy and tears of relief. What marvelous things can happen!
He worked hard and was able to have those extra things in life. He had a beautiful home. They went on vacations, sometimes twice a year. He grew into mid-life and felt settled. All his hard work had paid off. He was proud of himself, as he should have been.
He grew into the strong, reliant and prosperous young man I had hoped for. He wanted a family; the one he never had. He wanted kids and to be a good dad. He has four daughters, my granddaughters. They are all delightful and different from one another. Cameron is 19 and a sweet young woman. Samantha is 13 and cheerful and energetic. Bailey is 12 and clever and upbeat. Mia is 10 and such a darling.
Overcoming adversity to be hopeful again
Six years ago, Mark’s wife left him for another man. He never saw it coming. He was shattered. He was gripped in anger, depressed and his confidence was reduced to rubble.
As the painful divorce unfolded, he was in great pain and couldn’t see any window of hope. I spent many hours with him, often days at a time. I gave him a strong shoulder to cry on and listened as he vented. He just needed for me to be there with him. Slowly, he was able to see light and life. A life he is still carving out for himself. He’s such a good dad to his daughters. He’s hopeful again. He’s made a lovely new home for his girls.
I’m a much better mom today than when Mark was young. He tells me I’m his “rock” and that he never would have come through the last few years without me.
We are closer now than ever before and that makes me feel really good. So many adult children shy away from mom’s voice, believing her to be out of touch. I don’t experience that with Mark. My attentiveness to him gives me life as I’m proud of my growing into that rock he can rely on. Mark needed his mom and I was pleased that my hard-won strength was there for him.
We have come through the bright spots and faced the darkness that sometimes clouded both our lives. Both of us have faced life head on, with whatever our journeys threw at us. Despite the 21-year difference in our ages, today, both of us are hopeful for the future.
Being Mark’s mom. Life-giving? Absolutely! A challenge? Absolutely! A gift? Beyond measure!