Growing up with my mother was tough. She was the definition of an authoritarian parent: difficult, strict, and in many ways oppressive. And she was EVERYWHERE! The woman could hover like a military-grade helicopter.
Living up to her expectations was impossible. Nothing I did was ever good enough. I lived under the constant threat of her punishment, in perpetual fear of her. One wrong move and it was over for me. Her judgment came swift and with a ferocity only read about in Revelations.
The love I received from her came from doing something correctly without question. She was cold, calculated, and withdrawn. She did everything with tense apprehension, making for a very rigid home life. I never liked having friends over because she was the dragon guarding the fortress. Any loud noises or sudden movements would send her wheeling.
In many instances, she had to be this way. She was a single mom trying to play both parental roles, making up for the fact that my father was absent. She had to be this way because I was wild and stubborn. She had to be hard and cold to get me through high school and out of the house, knocking the chip off my shoulder, putting me in my place with one fell swoop.
She knew how to knock me down to size, thickening my skin along the way. I am who I am because of her stern guidance, her severe, uncompromising parenting. She made me the hardworking, unyielding, and diligent woman I am today. She gave me the tools to succeed in the real world, outside of the world she had crafted for the younger, less governable me.
She gave me a strong woman to look up to and a reason to drink all at the same time.
She knew exactly what she was doing. Making me stronger, tougher, and more realistic. Does that make looking back on my childhood any less painful? Not really. But my mother once told me, “Childhood is what we spend our whole lives getting over.” So thanks, I guess.