My grandparents on my mother’s side were from Poland. They came here after the war and raised a family. They died before I was born, when my mom was around 30 years old. One of the things my mom remembers most fondly is the trip she took to Europe with her mother, sometime back in the 1970’s.
My mom also recently went through a scare with breast cancer. After having surgery to remove some lumps, she has been deemed alright. But it was a wake up call for me.
Now that I’m older, I have a very different perspective on my mom compared to when I was a kid. Since my husband and I will be having kids in the next few years, I’ve started to more fully appreciate what she sacrificed and did for us when we were young. She had her own business as a graphic designer before we came along – and then she put it on hold to raise us while my dad worked full-time and went to night school for 10 years to get his degree. Financially, it was probably the right decision, since my dad is incredibly smart and well advanced in his career.
But a few years back, I was pretty sure I was about to get engaged to my (now) husband, and I had a long heart-to-heart with my mom. Through our conversation, I realize she lived almost an entirely different life before she met my dad, got married, and had me. They didn’t even meet until my mom was in her 30’s – this might be a common age now but this was almost 30 years ago!
I was completely surprised and caught off guard when I realized just how different my mom’s life was before she began her current incarnation as wife, mom, and teacher. She went to college in the early 1970’s for fine art. She was apparently even engaged to someone who “drove a colorful van” as she put it (!!!) (before he flaked out, she moved on, and eventually met my dad).
I keep asking myself – Who is this person!? My mom is getting older and has had a few health problems. I am slowly realizing that she won’t be around forever – and it is leading to an urgent desire to really get to know her, outside of the roles she has inhabited my whole life, before we run out of time.
So I recently suggested that we should take a trip to Europe together, like she did with her mom. I got the idea a few months ago, so I’ll be tracking the planning process here. I’m so excited!!