Mothers

by Bill Brenner on May 8, 2011

Here’s a celebration of the moms in my life — the ones I can’t live without and the ones I don’t talk to anymore.

Mood music:

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There’s my mother. We don’t talk these days ( I covered the reasons in a post last year) but I want to thank her for doing her best with the tools she had at the time. Having kids like us wasn’t easy. I remember a lot of yelling in my house as a kid. I remember a lot of hitting, too. And a lot of tears. But I also remember her worrying about me endlessly and sitting beside my hospital bed for weeks on end as the Crohn’s Disease raged inside me, and dragging herself to her wit’s end taking care of my grandparents and great-grandmother, all of whom could be difficult. Maybe one of these days a reconciliation will happen. For now, it is what it is.

There’s Erin, my love, best friend and mother of my two beautiful children. I’ve written a lot about my wife in this blog. The best place to catch up on that is a compilation post I did a few months ago called “How Marriage Saved Me.” To say she saved me is not an exaggeration.

She gave me two beautiful sons who remind me every day that this life is not all about me. I still fail to remember that frequently, but this family has without a doubt brought me a lot closer to salvation than I ever could have hoped for without them.

She has challenged me to be the best person I can be. She never lets it slide when I act like an ass, and she is THE reason I found God. An old priest friend once said a married couple’s job is to get each other into Heaven, and she’s done more for me on that score than I have in return.

She always makes the boys’ costumes at Halloween and that is just one element of her greatness: We could just buy costumes in the store and the kids may not mind. There’s nothing wrong with buying a costume. But to Erin that’s unthinkable. For those kids, only hand-made reflections of their fertile imaginations will do. It’s the harder way, but to her it’s the better way.

It’s that kind of spirit that keeps me trying to be a better man. It’s what I should do. But it’s also what she deserves: a better me.

There’s Dianne, my step-mother.

Me and Dianne were always in conflict. As a kid I thought she was in the marriage with my Dad for his business success. I fought constantly with the step-sister she gave me. I was jealous of the step-brother she gave me because he was suddenly the cute youngest kid. Before my parents divorced it was Michael, Wendi and me, the youngest. Being sick, I was also spoiled rotten. Then the step-siblings came along and Michael died, making me the oldest son, a title that carried a lot of pressure.

I blamed it all on her. Of course, she also gave me a beautiful half sister in late 1985 who came along at just the right time, bringing joy to the family I never thought we’d see again.

Fast-forward to 2011. I’ve learned a lot over the years. One is that I was the asshole most of the time back then. I was looking for people to blame for my pain and she was too good a target to pass up. She has stuck by my father through all kinds of illness and turmoil. She loves him deeply, and worries about him constantly. I’m eternally grateful to her for that.

There’s my Step-sister Stacey, who’s a great mom to my niece and nephew, Lilly and Chase. There’s my sisters-in-law, Sara and Robin, who have given me a precious niece and nephew.

There’s my mother-in-law, Sharon, who is one of the most peaceful souls I’ve ever met. To be around her is to feel safe and loved. She brought up four beautiful daughters and she’s a natural at the role of grandma.

There are my friends who are moms: Mary, Stacey, Denise, Donna, Deb, Lauren, Linda, Betsy, Vickie, Christie and endless others. They all inspire me with the love they show for their kids. That sort of inspiration makes me strive to me better, too.

And that’s why moms are so important, no matter how much we boys may fight with them. They push us to be better.

Happy Mother’s Day, with all my love.

–Bill

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