Wednesday, May 26, 2021

She did the best she could, by Peggy Jaeger

 Strange title for a blog post, I know. 

This month's topic is supposed to be about romance and roses for mom since...Mother's Day. I'm gonna skip the roses and romance part for a bit and just discuss the mom part, so please, bear with me.

My mother was divorced in a time when the national average wasn't 1 in 2 marriages heading to court. In the very early 1960's, a divorced woman was an anomaly and a  divorced Catholic woman, a pariah. My mom's legal unpairing from my biological father occurred before Vatican II, so mom was looked upon as a fallen woman by the Church, stripped of her ability to receive Communion ( which, if you are a Catholic you know is a BIG thing) and because a child was conceived from the now-defunct union, I was considered a bastard child in the eyes of the Church.

Hurtful? Definitely. Archaic and misogynistic? You betcha. Accepted by society? Unfortunately.

So, my mother became a single mom at the age of 24 in a time when women weren't even allowed to have credit cards if they weren't married.

The term misogynistic comes to mind again.

My father was an immature baby of a man and a gambler to boot, so child care and alimony were never something she received on a regular basis. If a horse came in on a trifecta in Belmont or OTB, then he paid. If not, he didn't. So my mother was forced to work at menial jobs just to put food on the table for her and I and a roof over our heads. Since she never finished high school, the jobs truly were menial, low-paying, and often backbreaking.

There were many times in my childhood I truly resented the fact we didn't live in a nice home but an apartment building with cockroaches the size of chihuahuas, my clothes mostly came from Goodwill shops or the Salvation Army because she couldn't afford brand name store-bought ones, and the food we ate was all generic and store-specific brands and not name brands. Trust me when I tell you there is a real difference between cow's milk and powdered - not only in price, and that mayonnaise on white bread is not a nutritious sandwich for a child's lunch. Potatoes were our only "vegetable" and "chop meat" was our only protein. 

As an adult, I realize that blaming my mother for our misfortune was misplaced anger on my part. It should have been directed at the man who put us in the tenuous position of poverty, and not my mother. Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20 and I've got perfect vision now.

We may not have lived in a palace, but we weren't homeless. 

My clothes may have been a little faded and tattered, but I wasn't running around naked in the streets. 

And we may not have had all the material things I so desperately wanted as a child, but my mother kept us together, never took a dime in government relief ( not that there was much at that time), and taught me the value of hard work. She could have walked away from the life she was forced to live and sent me to live with my grandmother or aunt. 

She didn't. 

She stuck, kept me with her, and worked like a proverbial dog to make sure we were safe, healthy, and that I knew I was loved. We may not have had much, but we had that love and she showed it to me every single day.

In essence, she did the best she could with a bad situation she didn't create.

And despite being a rebellious kid with a mouthy attitude and a chip on my shoulder,  I turned out just fine.

I think the true essence of being a mother is this kind of fortitude, stick-with-it-ness, and resolve to do the best you can for your family no matter what the circumstances. And I tend to think the reason I write characters who are such strong women and devoted mothers is because of what I was shown as a child. My mother defines the term backbone of steel. 

Speaking of writing strong women and devoted mothers ( how's that for a segue, hee hee) in my upcoming Holiday Novella SANTA BABY which is releasing into the book reading world on June 7, Amy Dorrit is a single woman who becomes an instant-mom when she finds a baby on her doorstep on a cold Christmas Eve morning.

Here's a quick peek at the blurb:

It’s Christmas Eve morning in the tiny New England town of Dickens.

Santa’s arrival is imminent, and a hint of snow is in the air.

Amy Dorrit is just about to open her popular diner for the breakfast rush when she discovers an abandoned baby on her back doorstep.

Amy knows she should call the authorities and turn the infant over to them, but she just can’t. Thoughts of her own abandonment as a baby flood through her and she wants to keep the little one out of the hands of the authorities until the mother – hopefully –returns.

But will the mom come back? And if she doesn’t, what is Amy prepared to do about the baby who has, already, claimed her heart?

Intrigued? Here's where you can preorder your copy: UNIVERSAL LINK

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Until next month, peeps ~Peg


  1. What a model of strength, Peggy. Now I know where you get that determination from. Congrats to you and to your mom. I hope your stepfather was the man you both deserved. Your story sounds perfect for Christmas. Best to you.

  2. Not a strange title at all. It's what most of us do as moms, regardless of our circumstances. A wonderful tribute to your mother. Thanks for introducing her to us and thank her for passing on that backbone; it's an important legacy.

  3. I was a single mom. I didn't have it as bad as your mom, but my Catholic ex got our marriage annulled. Not being Catholic, I never understood that. Most moms do the best they can do, or I like to think so. Both my parents are gone now. Ironically, I miss my mom the most, and she's the one I had conflict with growing up.

    1. I wish my mother had gotten an annulment but my father wouldn't sign the papers for the church.

  4. Thanks for sharing. I'm Catholic and divorced, so I get it. Your mom was awesome. I look back now and wonder how my parents did it. Packed up from the Caribbean, lost money in the process (exchange rtate 3 to 1), got all their degrees over again, and sent us to private school. They certainly weren't rich. Your blog should be titled Ode to a Special Mom! We honor her here!

    1. Marcia - I think your parents were amazing!!!!

  5. This is why you are such a dynamo yourself. Great role model to follow. My parents also got divorced and my mom got the marriage annulled. Kind of bothered me. But we were older so my mom didn't have to carry all the burden herself. You are a special lady!!

    1. I wish my mother had been able to get that annulment but my father wouldnt sign the papers for the church. It's always bothered her that her second marriage wasn't sanctified.

  6. A salute to your mom and to you, Peggy! God Bless.

  7. I understand about the Catholic bugaboo about divorce. My Catholic mother married a divorced man, and she wouldn't repent, so she was banned from the church. I, too, was born a bastard, and had to get baptised in a Protestant church. I admire both you and your mother for coming through that!

  8. Ilona - the "rules" are so ridiculous. I've always thought the tenant of the church should be propagation of the faith. How can you fulfill that when the rules prevent people from remarrying??? It's a conundrum for sure.

  9. Beautiful tribute to your mother!

    My parents were divorced too. My mom worked as a waitress for awhile but I was somewhat oblivious to it all (not much has changed! :D ) When all you know is coming from a divorced family, it is your normal and doesn't seem odd. I never questioned having one pair of pants to wear to school, although I'm sure others were more observant than I and that may have been one of the reasons why I faced a lot of rejection and bullying. Like Kari, my mom got her divorce annulled and was thrilled about it, and while I tried to be happy for her, it seemed the annulment erased who I was.

    Your mom may not have been able to give you the things she wanted to, but she did give you some very valuable gifts--the feeling of being loved, and the strength to persevere. Motherhood is difficult in even the best circumstances. Let's hear it for all the mom's who did their best for their children!

    1. MJ I hear you about feeling like you were erased by the annulment. I wonder if I would have felt that way, too. I have to think it's equally as horrible as being considered a bastard child in the eyes of the church. Ughgh!

  10. Such a powerful post, Peg, for so many reasons! Your story was maddening yet completely inspiring. Hats off to your mom for having that "backbone of steel." Just look at the wonderful child she raised. (I can say that because I've seen you in action, my dear)

  11. It's easy to see why you do everything in your power to make your mom's life as easy for her as possible at this stage in her life. What an example she set.

  12. Awww, Kathleen, thank yo for saying that!

  13. Profound and beautiful, Peggy. What a moving tribute to your mother. Thank you for sharing this.


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