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  • Writer's pictureCraig Richards

When mothers fail

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Failing is part of life, inevitable even. It’s hard to navigate life’s twists and turns without experiencing failure. Similarly, it’s difficult to coexist with others, including our mothers, without letting them down at some point.

As Mother’s Day approaches, I find it fitting to reflect on the times my mother failed me.

One of my earliest memories revolves around her inability to buy me the latest fashionable shoes and clothes. In grade school, this left me feeling embarrassed and inadequate compared to my peers and their well-dressed mothers. Oh, the incomprehensible naivety of youth!

Mom failed to give me a free pass for pushing my sister down. She pruned a switch from a nearby branch and dispensed commensurate justice to my derrière. Her failure to pacify childish behavior taught me respect for others. It also taught me preparation, as I began wearing thicker material for pants.

It wasn’t until I reached junior high that I began to understand the sacrifices she made. She worked tirelessly to ensure our family of eight had food, shelter, and decent clothing.

Managing the household budget during lean years meant she bore the brunt of my youthful selfishness and disdain. She, too, felt the sting of embarrassment from not being able to provide more.

It wasn’t just me mom failed; it was dad too. For instance, when I displayed musical talent and wanted to join the school band, dad initially disagreed. It was mom who secretly bought me a drum set failing to inform dad until he heard my expressive drum solo that evening. She sensed my passion and went out of her way to support it, certainly sacrificing something else to make it happen.

During one of my rare visits home from college, she failed to join me for a round of golf, a game she never had the time to pick up. Instead, she sat with me in the golf cart for three hours on a scorching summer day just to spend time together. These actions speak volumes about her dedication and love, even if she’s not always been able to fulfill every expectation.

Throughout college, her failures persisted. Despite our family’s improved financial situation, she failed to give me a weekly allowance. Instead, she encouraged me to work while studying. This taught me self-reliance, accountability, and a sense of accomplishment.

Mom’s legacy of priceless purposeful failure continued throughout the years, no matter my age, success, or eventual transformation into fatherhood. Each time she seemed to fall short in providing something masked a deliberate effort to nurture, educate or simply express love toward me.

In one last moment, mom completed one more shortcoming to the untrained eye. She failed to remain on this earthly realm a few years back, passing shortly after Thanksgiving. It was a fitting departure, as now every Thanksgiving holds profound significance for me as I reflect on how grateful I am to have been her son.

As Mother’s Day approaches, the best tribute I can offer to honor mom is to share an account of her “failings.” I hope all of you have experienced such “failure” from your mom. The world is not a better place without her. However, it is a better place because of her.

Craig Richards is the publisher of The Hammonton Gazette.


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