Yes, I am a 30-year-old woman who stills calls her mom by mommy. I realize to outsiders it is probably very childish of me. I’m not sure why I do it, but I always have and see no reason to outgrow the term now. My talking about her probably seems a little strange to most of you. Up until today I have only discussed her in passing here on The Sanford Family Misfit. I’m not sure why that is – probably because she’s still alive. I suppose there are a great deal of reasons I haven’t yet discussed her here. I’m not sure what makes today any different from any other day, or why I feel the need to talk about her now… I guess I just do and really that’s all the excuse I need.
I think the biggest reason I feel compelled to write about my mommy today, is because I think she might be worried I have forgotten what a huge hand she played in raising me (which is extremely untrue). I shudder to even think what my life may have turned out to be like without her in it. Yes, my Sanford family played an enormous role in my life: they gave me roots, a colorful heritage, unwavering support, and my beloved last name… but my mommy – what didn’t she give me? The truth is undeniably clear that she gave me everything and taught me lessons that no other woman alive could have.
My mom grew up in a very poor family. When I say poor, I mean she didn’t have an indoor bathroom in the late 60s – so very poor. Some people who come from backgrounds like her’s end up never rising to their full potential, but my mommy is not one of those kinds of people. In her youth it may have seemed she was destined for a future full of the same poverty that she had come from. Her younger days were riddled by mistake after mistake: running away, dropping out of school, and starting a family way too young. I’m not sure what the turning point was for her, but the fact she had one cannot be ignored.
My daddy was the kind of man who turned bad times into worse ones, but my mommy is the very antithesis of him. I’m not sure when she hit her lowest or when she decided to turn her life around, but there is no doubt she came out of whatever hole she had fallen into and did so swinging. My mom picked herself up by her bootstraps, took a job in a little machine shop in Wilmington, and then sued for custody of me. At the time I may not have been thrilled when she won, but as I’ve stated before: nothing could have been better for me.
My mommy probably could have settled – finding happiness in the mediocrity she had found in life, but something like that would be beneath her. Always looking for a way to better herself, my mom applied to General Electric in 1991. I’ll never forget the day she got hired. I’ve never seen her so happy before and I’m pretty certain I haven’t seen her as happy since. I remember she asked my permission to take the job, explaining it was third shift, and how different life would be if I said yes. Her asking my opinion on the biggest decision she would likely ever make has never been lost on me and there was no way I could have told her no after seeing how excited she was. My mom had the biggest outpouring of happy emotion I have ever seen when I told her yes – picking me up and spinning me around in circles to celebrate. I’ve never once regretted telling her to go for it that day and it makes me happy to say she is still an employee of General Electric today. After such a wild success it is hard to believe that my mom kept on succeeding, but she did. My mom has accomplished getting her real estate license, opening her own photography business, moving into one of the most sought after neighborhoods in Wilmington, owns at least one rental property, and still managed to raise me. The most impressive thing to me in her story is how she made so much happen as a single mother.
I often wonder if my mommy fully appreciates what she means to me or if she even knows. My mother is a superhero of epic proportions in my mind. There is nothing too big for my mom to handle, no one too big for her to take down, and not a single obstacle in this world she isn’t capable of overcoming. She is hands down the person who has pushed me the hardest throughout my life, she is my biggest critic, and has left me shoes so big that I’m quite certain there is no way I can ever fill them. My mother isn’t my rock – she is my world. She doesn’t just hold me up when I need it, but rather she is the thing that has given my life constant stability. In a very strange way it is my mother who has not only held me down to this earth, but has also been the one who gave me wings. While it may be the Sanfords who have given me roots – it is my mother who has enabled me to fly.
Maybe the real reason I needed to write this today was because I needed her to know that while she may not be a Sanford anymore that makes her of no less importance to me. I also needed her to know that I’m aware that I’m not all Sanford – I’m half Owens too and that’s a side of myself I’m damned proud of.