Today would have been my mom’s 84th birthday. She died in July so this is the first birthday without her.
I have heard so many different philosophies on rearing children. What advantages to give and how we can make life good for our children.
My mom’s income as a secretary for the federal government was modest. However, she still managed to make fun for us, whether it was popping popcorn (before the microwave style) for a movie on television or a day at the beach. She helped us through college with what she had.
However, I think the best advantage she gave us is told in real-life event that happened soon after my dad left us. My mother took him to court to seek more child support for us. It was not greed, it was need. My two older brothers were teenagers and were typical teenage boys when it came to eating. I needed some decent clothes.
Because my brothers had upcoming exams and needed to be in class to ensure they do well, only I went with my mom to court. After the hearing, my mom’s lawyer sat her down on a bench and proceeded to tell her that he needed to drop her as a client. Basically, she was more trouble to him than she was worth. She was paying him on a sliding scale.
My mother pleaded with him to change his mind. Her argument was based that she knew my brothers and I would be wonderful contributing members of society. She said we would be good respectable citizens. She made this argument because this is what she believed. She believed in us. No amount of money could buy this type of belief and it gave me, a 13-year-old girl, confidence.
I had not thought about this incident for many years. In fact, one could easily say I had forgotten it. Until about a year ago when I called the Virginia Beach’s chief purchasing officer, Bill Davis, to interview him for an article I was writing for Inside Business, Hampton Roads’ weekly business magazine.
I introduced myself “This is Susan Smigielski Acker, I am writing an article for Inside Business about small business contracting and governments.” Mr. Davis said he had time to talk. About two questions into the interview, Mr. Davis asked me “did you say your last name is Smigielski?”
I answered “well, Smigielski Acker, yes.”
“Are you any relation to Jay Smigielski, with the city of Norfolk?” he asked.
“Yes, that is my brother,” I said.
“And you have another one who works for Va. Beach, in IT, right?” he asked.
“Yes, that is my brother Matthew,” I said.
“Wow! you took a different path (referring to their government employment and my career in journalism),” he said.
“Yea,” I laughed. “Mom liked me best,” I said.
We then continued the interview. Soon after I hung up the phone, I was spiritually transported to that court house bench, where my mom was making her plea, repeating that my brothers and I would be contributing good citizens of the community. It occurred to me that because the chief purchasing officer of one of the largest municipalities in Virginia knew all three of her children in an upright professional manner, she had accomplished what she set out to do.
That even with her modest means, she gave us so much by one simple consent gesture – she believed in us. Happy Birthday mom.