With Mother’s Day just behind us, I’ve been thinking this week about my mom and the role she played in building the business. I’ve written before about all of the hard work that my dad put into growing his dream into a viable business. I have so much admiration for his never-ending work days, late nights, multiple jobs, and all of the courage it took to keep on going in spite of what must have seems like insurmountable odds. But if we are going to talk about all that Dad did to make it work, we can’t leave out Mom. She was right there in the middle of it.
Now that I’m raising my own family, I have a little bit more of an idea of what it all meant for her. All of those nights we went to bed while and saw the lights in the shop still burning while Dad worked? That meant that Mom was managing the six of us, most often having to get us to and fro, homework done, chores managed – on her own. I remember her insistence on us eating dinner as a family, which meant that we often ate dinner quite late (totally different from what Dad had grown up doing). Making that happen wasn’t easy (and it didn’t come without a fair share of resistance:), but she was a firm believer that we would eat together, regardless of how late it was. Years before psychologists touted the importance of having family meals together, she insisted on making that happen.
I’ve been thinking of the costumes she pulled together (we always had the best costumes), the personalized cakes she decorated for our birthdays, and the fun family traditions she created. Our favorite family memories revolve around the lake, and it wasn’t until I had my own family that I realized what an enormous task taking 6 kids camping (no houseboats!) to Lake Powell would have been!
Add to that, all of the years living with the business office in the family room, doing all of the secretarial work, and driving unfinished cars around while dad feverishly worked on the project of the hour. Most of the years growing up, funds were extremely tight, and she always tried hard to make sure we had clothes that we felt good about, although they may not have been the name-brand-of-the-hour. We learned how to work hard and live on a budget. I remember one year, early in elementary school, when I received only one new shirt to start school. My mom explained to me that money was a little tight, and it was important that the older kids (who were in high school at the time) had clothes that they felt good about going to school in. She helped me understand that I had enough hand-me-downs to get me through for now, and one day it would be my special turn to get the new things. She re-taught that lesson to me several times as I grew up. I learned that sometimes it was my turn to be in the spotlight and sometimes it was someone else’s, but we would all have our turn at one time or another. I will always be thankful that I learned early on that most things in life aren’t divided equally, and that’s okay.
Perhaps the biggest blessing Mom gave us was that while Dad worked, she never complained to us about the long hours. I remember her getting frustrated with us plenty, and needing a break from the craziness of family life (oh, how I understand so much better now)! But I never once remember her complaining about him working. Instead, she made it a point to tell us that he worked so hard because he loved us, and there wasn’t a harder worker than our dad, and weren’t we lucky to have a dad who knew how to work and provide for a family. Because of this, I don’t remember feeling sad when he couldn’t come to games or concerts or recitals. I always felt secure because I knew he was working hard because he loved me so much. And wasn’t I lucky?
Nothing in life is ever perfect, and there’s no such thing as a perfect mother or a perfect childhood. But in the making of a dream, it seems there is often someone making the wheels turn, keeping everything going. Most often, as in our case, we didn’t pay them much attention. We demanded too much and didn’t say thank you enough. We thought they were just doing their jobs. We forgot, while we were busy growing and doing, that they were behind us the whole time, making so much of it happen.
And so you see, it seems that in the making of the American Dream a lot of the credit goes to Mom.