My mom is chock full of odd little sayings I’ve found myself saying over the years. It’s always a bit disconcerting when you open your mouth and your mother’s voice comes out, but I’ve gotten used to it, doing what I do for a living. It’s akin to have a whole mess of kids- mostly teenagers- so of course I turn into my mother. One such saying I quote to my clients all the time- to the point where some clients on my previous caseload would groan when I said “like my mom always says”- is “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer is “One bite at a time.” Sometimes you get so overwhelmed by the whole elephant, that it seems impossible. Focusing on the piece on your plate is much more manageable, and before you know it, you’ve managed to eat the whole elephant. Or completed whatever monumental task you’ve undertaken, natch.
Mom’s favorite saying when it comes time to do something you don’t really want to do, is “Sometimes, you’ve just got to pick carrots with migrant workers.” When my mom was young, she went to California, as so many do in their early twenties, to try and eke out something out there. She didn’t find much of anything, and found herself picking carrots and other produce with migrant workers to be able to afford to feed, clothe, and house herself. She didn’t speak the same language as the other workers near her, so she just shut up, kept her head down, and picked carrots. She didn’t like it, but it put food on the table and a roof over her head.
I have never, ever, EVER won an argument where the carrots got mentioned. EVER. How do you argue with that? It’s the ultimate in sacrificing pride in order to survive. Mom went through a lot and as much as I look back and wonder why she didn’t run for her life with us kids long before she did, I know she was just trying to eke out a living for herself and three kids with her spouse actively doing everything he could to undermine her every move and destroy her sense of self-worth. My mom is strong in ways I will never even be able to fathom. She’s my biggest cheerleader, and I know she beats herself up for staying with my dad as long as she did, and especially for me inheriting bipolar disorder. I call her at least a few times a week, sometimes daily if I’m having a rough patch, and she calls me, too. She sends me little cards when I’m having a rough time as encouragement. She’s one of my best friends and it terrifies me to think that someday I’ll lose her. God willing she will be with us for quite some time yet- she’s just turned 50 and has no intention of slowing down any time soon- but the thought of having to say goodbye is making me choke up as I write this.
I love you, mom. Thank you for being there for me.