In Her Shoes is a series written by readers to give us a glimpse into their lives – to see what it is like to walk in their shoes. I’m honored to introduce you to my cousin Maria. Today she is going to share with us how a mother’s love has guided her over the years to become the woman that she is today. Let’s join our friend as she shares what it is like to walk in her shoes. Love, ~ G
Wow, when I look over the other posts on this blog I think, my life is pretty charmed. There are really quite a few times that I think about all I have and all the good in my world and wonder, “what in the world did I do to deserve this happiness.”
I don’t know if I “did” anything but I do know that a large part of it is how I do things. I definitely try to see the glass as half full most of the time. There are absolutely times that I get sad, overwhelmed, frustrated, and angry but for the most part I try to always take a “good stuff” inventory of my life. And I think part of that comes from the struggles I went through early on.
To know what it’s like to live in my shoes, we have to go back to what it was like to live in my mother’s shoes. My mom’s name is Rosie. She married later in life, (as did I), and had two children at the age of 37 and 39, (me too!). Mom married my dad right after his divorce from his first wife. (Side note: I have two incredible siblings from that marriage. Extra side note, I hate the term “half-brother” or “half-sister”. Make a note, because I’m sure I’m not the only one).
Dad was another story. A large part of the reason that his first marriage failed was due to alcoholism. Eventually, that disease is what killed him. I was only 3, almost four (the same age as my son now) and my younger brother was only 2. There my mom was, left to raise two very small children on her own. Fortunately she had my grandparents and a whole slew of close family friends to help her but I know it wasn’t easy. I don’t think I’ll ever know exactly how difficult it was but I do know that if I was put in her situation tomorrow I would be absolutely devastated, wondering how I’d be able to move forward. I would be able to move forward though – that’s the positive disposition I possess. I learned it from my beautiful mother.
So I grew up without a father. There are things about that situation that affected me as a young woman, as an adult. Things I probably would have done differently, decisions I would have made, maybe it would have changed my environment – I’ll never know. I do know that it hurt sometimes to not have a father. I had an incredible father figure in my grandfather but of course that’s never exactly the same. I certainly longed for the approval of men. I enjoyed their company more than women, I think I wanted to know as much about them as I could. Perhaps taking bits and pieces from each of them to form what I imagined my father would have been like. My father, that is, without an illness.
What is so great about my mother is that while we were growing up, apart from wishing for a dad every now and then, I didn’t really know any hardship. I didn’t even realize how small the house was that we grew up in or understand why we didn’t have what others had. I really think I didn’t care. Maybe there was some kind of understanding that we weren’t rich but we wanted for nothing. We went on great vacations, we both had a car when we turned 16, we had cable and video games and all the things that teenagers in the 80’s wanted. My mom was not only two parents to us but she was an incredible woman. She moved forward like a strong ship. She carried her passengers with strength and determination. I’m sure she had moments of weakness, difficulty, struggle, but she rarely let us see that. She was a rock and she made sure we had more than any material possessions we desired, she wanted to see us happy.
So to walk in my shoes you have to know where I came from. I am a lot like my mother but unlike her, I have an incredible partner helping me navigate my life. My partner is my support, my best friend, my lover – in the true sense that we love to be with each other, hold each other, hug, hold hands. I have a house that is much bigger than the one I grew up in. I have a job that I absolutely love. I have friends that make me think and make me laugh. All because I had a mom who believed in me and steered my ship. No matter what happened or what difficulty I thought I was going through, I always had her to fall back on. She taught me that being strong is important but loving yourself, your family, your friends and your life, is even more important.
My shoes now carry me to work. Just like my mom when we were growing up. My shoes are trying to raise two beautiful little boys so that when they grow up they will be able to be fathers (if that’s what they want) to their children unlike their grandfather. My shoes are about showing my boys that it’s nice to be important but it’s far more important to be nice. My shoes are filled with days of trying to give my family a happy life and teach my sons how important it is to be caring and full of compassion. To understand that people come from all walks of life. To love them no matter what but to always keep learning and asking questions. My shoes are about raising two smart, happy, caring boys
I remember when there were times in my life I was very alone. Whatever my struggle of the week was I would always ask myself, “Do I have a place to sleep? Do I have food to eat? Do I have a job?” The answers were always yes. I believed that if I had my basic needs met then I had enough to keep moving forward. And now, here I am, with so much more than just a place to sleep, eat, and work. I have all this and more importantly, I have happiness. It took me 40 years to realize it, but I have the strength within me to get through whatever I need. If I remember this, I will always be okay. Thankful for my amazing husband, thankful for the mom that raised me, thankful for the two boys that I get to love, and most of all thankful for staying positive. I believe that is the key.
To read more encouraging stories, or if you are interested in sharing your own story, please go to the In Her Shoes tab near the top of the page. I love learning about the people in this series. Connecting with others seems to make the world feel not quite as big and scary. We’re all in this together. I can’t wait to hear from you, to read your stories, and learn more of what it is like to walk in your shoes. ~ Love, Ginger
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