“Would you mind helping me with this, Mom?”
I don’t envision a life not using that phrase from time to time, and I don’t think my Mom would want it any other way.
Growing up as an admitted Momma’s boy, this next phrase is one I’ve used increasingly in the last seven or eight years as I’ve grown into adulthood, “No, thank you, but I can do that myself, Mom.”
My Mom loves my sister Lacey and I to an extraordinary extent, and that’s a major understatement. Without a doubt in my mind, my Mom would take a bullet for us, help us bury a body, or any other extreme that you can think of to illustrate the extent of her dedication to the two of us. She wants to help and support us in any way she can, to the best of her and my Dad’s abilities.
I would say by most accounts Lacey and I had it pretty damn good growing up. We had two loving parents who may have made mistakes like everyone else, but gave us absolutely everything we could ever need, and made Lacey and I their number one priority.
While we had everything we needed, we were not a well-off family financially. In fact, we fell into the lower-middle and poverty socioeconomic classes throughout my upbringing. Due to my father being stricken with an untimely chronic disability, he was no longer able to continue working his stable and good-paying job at the Hanford site, and meager and insufficient disability benefits became our family’s most consistent form of income.
While my father had brought home the main source of income between my parents during their whole marriage to that point, suddenly it fell on my mother’s shoulders to try and take over that pulpit as the family’s main income provider as my father’s health conditions continued to deteriorate. This was extremely difficult for both of my parents.
Between caring for Lacey and I as we entered the very demanding teenage years, caring for my father as he fought to maintain some level of quality of life, as well as working to try and put food on the table, my mother took on a tremendous physical and emotional workload. She broke into real estate with no real estate background, meaning she was learning from scratch as a nobody in the Tri-Cities area with no name recognition and no connections in a real estate community dominated by wealthy upper-middle class folks who look out for each other. A “good-old-boys club” of sorts.
She worked long days as well as weekends doing open houses, chasing clients, pouring hundreds of hours into small-time listings that returned meager commissions, all in an effort to build a business that could provide for her family.
After several years in the business, she decided to call it quits in real estate. It was time. She had given it her all, but it just wasn’t in the cards. This was a crushing blow for her, but she remained strong and did her best to hide that from us, particularly Lacey and I, and kept going about her business of being a loving and caring mother.
After this, and getting both Lacey graduated from college and me shipped off to WSU, she decided it was time to educate herself too. In an act of bravery, and I do not say that lightly, she returned to school and attended Columbia Basin College in Pasco. The prospect of returning to school, having been out of it for around 25 years, was a terrifying and daunting prospect for her. But with the support of my Dad and the family she returned to school and within a few years had earned her Associates Degree.
Shortly after earning her degree, my parents decided to try their hand in the small business game for the first time since their snack-food supply venture in the early 1990’s in Post Falls, Idaho. They bought a small durable medical equipment (DME) business and began learning how to work in the world of trying to collect payment from insurance companies and government agencies.
They learned quickly that it was extremely difficult to survive as the little fish in the DME market as insurance companies had the ability to deny a payment request for what seemed like any reason they fancied, and to maintain their clientele they had to consistently provide patients with equipment that they had no idea whether they’d ever get paid for.
After graduating from WSU in 2014 with no job prospects, I was incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to work for my Mom while I searched for a job. Otherwise, I would have been back working in a concession stand for less money that summer with no prospects for a job in the fall.
I witnessed firsthand the amount of work that was on her plate in running the business, as well as the immense stress and frustration, as well as loneliness and daily isolation that comes with working alone in a small store front with limited foot traffic. She put in long and solitary days, and it understandably wore on her emotionally.
Nonetheless, she remained strong while supporting the family as well as spending as much time as possible helping Lacey with her journey into motherhood, and babysitting my adorable niece little Charley Ann.
Every family has their struggles, and everyone makes their sacrifices, and while our family has experienced plenty of bad fortune, I am thankful for everything we do have, especially one another.
On this Mother’s Day, I’m especially grateful for my Mom, who has taught me so much about perseverance and hard work, and has loved me unconditionally. No matter how many times she gets knocked down and feels like she’s out for the count, she gets back up, dusts herself off, and keeps on trying, keeps on working, and being the best mother I could have ever asked for.
I love you very much, Mom. Thank you for everything you’ve done for the family, and everything you continue to do. You should be proud of your accomplishments, and wear your losses like badges of honor. You are a warrior, and someday all of your hard work will pay off.
Happy Mother’s Day!