A Rock and a Hard Place

My parents were divorced when I was 13 years old, and I never saw my father again. My mother became a true single mom — caring for four daughters 100% of the time, no coffee breaks, no holidays, no sick days. She did the grocery shopping, cut the grass, helped with homework, cleaned the bathrooms, fixed the plumbing, sealed the driveway, and repaired our toys. She did it all.

It’s only now that I’m a mom too that I realize what a huge, unbearable, impossible job she did. It’s not just the being available all the time, the never having time to yourself, the putting of others’ needs first. It’s the fact that you have no support, no one to turn to at the end of the day who is in the trenches with you, who can sympathize. No one to help you decide when the furnace is too far gone to be repaired, no one to deal with the roofers, no one to fix the internet when it’s broken. It’s a lonely life, filled with a lot of stress. I really don’t know how she did it.

Every summer we’d take a two-week trip to Sauble Beach, a summer beach vacation spot where my aunt and uncle were full-time residents. My mom would pack up the car with food, clothes, and toys for everyone, load in her four daughters, and drive the 2 1/2 hours herself through farmland and back roads to her sister’s house. We always made it there even though a certain daughter was a Royal Bitch about having to leave her friends for two weeks. Man, if only I could go back in time and smack my teenage self around a little bit!

One time when we were on our way home from our Sauble Beach vacation, my mom’s car broke down. We were literally in the middle of nowhere — nothing around as far as we could see but farmland. This was long before the days of cell phones, so my mom had to leave the four of us in the car while she walked for a couple of kilometers to find a farmhouse. There, she called my grandfather for help and he arranged for a tow truck to come and find us. We waited two hours at the car for the truck to arrive.

I can’t remember how we got home (probably my grandfather came to pick us up), but I remember being broken down at the side of the road — and it’s a good memory. I was panicked at first, but somehow my mom managed to convince us that everything was going to be okay. I cannot imagine the stress she must have been feeling — having to handle everything herself, having to leave her kids alone in the car while she went for help, having to ask strangers for assistance (a big no-no in my mother’s life), having to keep four kids calm and entertained for two hours while we waited for the truck.

She managed it, though.

I remember the wait for the truck as being a lot of fun — playing games with my sisters, telling jokes, singing songs. I think if I were in the same place, I would have done a lot of swearing, and a bit of crying, and basically helped freak my kids out completely. My mom, though, she was a rock.

And she still is, if you ask me.

So Happy Mother’s Day to my rock — my mom.

6 thoughts on “A Rock and a Hard Place

  1. porter

    Wow, what a great Mom indeed. My eyes are teary too. What a strong lady, how does someone find the strength to manage that? Thank you for sharing this with us.

  2. What an inspirational story! I will admit that my eyes welled-up too. An extraordinary woman to say the least. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Me teary too. As a single mom I can sort of relate – except that I have only one to deal with and I do have a cell phone. What an aweome mummy you have.

Comments are closed.