Okay, so these two articles are kind of awesome.  These women felt like they needed to tell their mothers something and I’m inspired.  I don’t think my mom reads this blog (which is kind of a good thing as I look at the earlier posts), but maybe she’ll read this one.  At least my mom is well and alive to hear these things.

As I’ve mentioned on this blog, my mom and I don’t get along with any sort of regularity.  We’re better than we used to be, and thank goodness for that, but I still don’t understand her most of the time.  Also, I feel like she usually doesn’t understand me.  This is confusing and frustrating for both of us as we BOTH recognize that our personalities are so similar.  But, we’ve taken those personalities and created such different internal people that the similarity of the externals won’t ever be enough.  Reconciling to that isn’t fun.

However, and this is something I’ve also tried to mention with regularity, I LOVE my mother.  She’s smart and funny and really good with people.  She’s also a bit nuts, but that’s a family trait that I got in SPADES, so no judgement (or, at least, I try not to).  She may not understand me, but she loves me and even likes me most days.  That’s something I treasure.  I don’t know a lot of families that can honestly say they’re friends.  Mine can, and a lot of that can be credited to the woman who raised my siblings and me.

So here are the things I want to say to my mother, somehow there’s never a right time to say them and writing’s easier for me anyway.

1) I have learned what it is to be a mother from you.  Do you remember that time I was asked to speak in church on Mother’s Day about what I had learned from my mother about family and life?  I do and can hardly doubt that you do.  I remember the look on your face when I said, in front of the entire congregation no less, that I couldn’t think of anything I had learned.  And that was true!  It was not true, however, because you had failed to teach me, but because I had willfully refused to learn.  What impresses me most about this memory, however, is that there were no recriminations later or long talks about how inappropriate it had been (I should have refused the assignment, not publicly announced that my mother was inadequate (because that is what I said, if not in so many words)).  You kept loving me and included me in the Mother’s Day celebrations.  I know that must have been difficult, and I look back on that day with no small amount of shame.  I am sorry, yes, but more determined than ever to learn from your example.  My future children will have a much better mother for your actions that day.

2) We’re doing so much better.  Remember that time that I told Dad, and then you, that if we kept going the way we were, we’d be estranged within five years?  Dad wasn’t happy I said something like that, but you agreed that it was probably true.  Regardless of the fact that it was true on that day, it isn’t any more.  Like I said, I still don’t understand you very much and every time I think we’ve finally found a relationship that works we manage to somehow hurt each other one more time, but that path we were heading down for so long has disappeared into the distance.  Our horizon is beautiful now, even with all the pitfalls that are on the way.

3) I’m so glad you took me out of Girl Scouts.  For two very different reasons, in fact.  First, for the intended reason: actions have consequences, especially the actions I can’t always control.  We didn’t know it at the time, but my egregious behavior in 4th grade was directly due to my Bi-Polar (the  fact that you put up with it for three more years without even knowing what it was astounds me, by the way).  You took me out of girl scouts as a punishment and, despite the fact that I had less of a clue as to what was going on as you did, it helped.  I can’t always control those visceral reactions, but I do need to work harder to control and temper them.  I am responsible for me, even if me isn’t so wonderful sometimes.  The second reason comes from years of experiencing the dichotomy of what society says a girl should be and who I am: I would have been miserable.  It wasn’t long before I saw that incident as one of the biggest favors you and Dad did for me and not as the punishment it had been, however briefly.  Girl Scouts does a lot of good for a lot of people.  I would not have been one of those people.

4) Sometimes, I’m still scared to talk to you, but I’ll always come to you eventually.  And thank you for giving me the time that I need to come to you.

5) Dad is my best friend.  YOU are my MOM.  I know it bugs you sometimes–more than you let on–that I’m on better terms with Dad than with you.  I know it’s hard that my first instinct is to call him rather than call you.  But you are my MOM.  There is so much that only you can give me, long term things.  Dad, as wonderful as he is, is the day-to-day guy.  And, while he is still the parent while being my best friend, that relationship is much more relaxed.  When I need to calm down, he’s the one I go to.  When I need structure–which is more often than you might realize–it’s you I turn to.  I’m thrilled to be friends with Dad, but I’m equally thrilled to have the stability you provide as a Mom.  I need both, desperately.

6) Cats was amazing.  Remember that birthday gift?  I do.  Dad had always been the one that did the theatre-y stuff, but I remember truly feeling the awe of live theatre for the first time with you.  At Cats, of all musicals (don’t get me wrong, it’s a great show . . . but by no means the GREATEST).  Sure, Dad laid a good foundation, but you’re the one who raised the building on it.

7) You’re the one who taught me to love reading.  I am living breathing proof that you are one of the most talented teachers on the face of the planet.  You managed to foster a love of reading in me that you yourself did not have. I know you like to read, but the passion that I was blessed with is not something you have.  However, it took me years to realize this.  I grew up thinking that BOTH you and Dad were as in love with reading and stories and books as I was. Thank you for not disabusing me of that notion until I was old enough to understand.  When it mattered, you took the seeds of that love, which I inherited from my father, and coaxed them into the bloom they are now.

8) Softie is forever.  Thank you.  Sure, my need for a softie is pretty much the longest living security blanket ever, but you let me have it.  Even when it was long past the time that I should need a security blanket, if I called needing a new one, you would make the run to the store and get it for me.  I hope I am as understanding with my children when I see them get too attached to something.

9) Ignore the flinching.  I have not liked to be touched unsolicited since I was a kid–you have provided plenty of anecdotal proof of this, even if I didn’t have plenty of years of experiences that I remember.  But, you’re my mommy and if you feel so compelled, go ahead and run your fingers through my hair or rub my shoulders.  It’ll be okay.  Just ignore the flinching, which fades after a pat or two.

10) The mistakes you’ve made aren’t that bad, really. No one is perfect.  This includes me.  This includes you.  But I can’t think of a single mistake you made that has permanently damaged me or even come close.  It took a lot of mistakes on both sides to get the the point where estrangement wasn’t that far off, but it took a lot more right choices to get us to where we are now.  And, in some ways, your mistakes were the right choices, because they taught me how to react and recover.  You weren’t ashamed of making mistakes and, while I am still learning that skill, you have taught me that mistakes are there to be made and to learn from.  And that I can do nothing about it, so I might as well stop freaking out.

I love you, Momma.

(I think I’m going to make a series out of this and do one for every member of my immediate family.  Mostly because I want them to know, but also those people in my small corner of the web should know.  For all my occasional complaints and frustrations–which I try to keep to a minimum here, as it’s not the appropriate forum–these are my friends, as well as my family.  If the strangers who find this blog know nothing else, it will be that I love my family, warts and all.)

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