Whatever you call her, Mom, Mama, Mother, Mommy, Ma’am……. she’s the woman who brought you into the world and shaped you like no other woman could.
It’s Mother’s Day and my social media feed is full of blooms and boisterous thank you notes. I also read posts from women who wanted children but didn’t have any; women who raised children they didn’t birth and women who grieved the death of a child. Mothers and Motherhood is a complicated subject.
Speaking of complicated, my relationship with my Mom fit that definition — or at least from my perspective. We weren’t allowed to use the “F-word”, you know FEELINGS, so communication relied on the “oh so reliable” mind-reading and making assumptions. God forbid we’d talk about how we felt! It was so much more exciting and dramatic to rely on nonverbal communication and hunches.
You see, as a child all I wanted was my Mom’s undivided attention. I wanted her to love me OUT-LOUD.
My cousins remember my Mom as warm and happy. That’s wonderful and at the same time quite weird! For as long as I can remember, my Mom was never at ease. She cried A LOT – every emotion brought tears. Only with a skilled eye could you decipher if her tears were sad or mad, proud or pissed. I didn’t realize her only coping mechanism was to cry; serving as a pressure release valve for everything she had trouble processing. If I had known this I would have had far more empathy than embarrassment. In fact, we were told not to cry! Crying was weak.
I came to appreciate my Mother much more in my adulthood; especially when I become a Mother myself. While I felt increasing gratitude; there was some slow simmering resentment on the back-burner. Why didn’t she want to be more involved as a Grandma? Why didn’t she want to visit us? Why did she forget to call on my birthday? Yes, even adult women want to be called by their Mama on the day of their birth!
At some point in my forties, I knew I’d have to change my thinking if there was any chance of closing the emotional gap between us. The first order of business was forgiveness; I’d have to accept that Mom was doing the best she could with what she had at the time. It is what it is. Make peace and let that old shit go. I chose to soften my heart before another twenty years flew by.
Another thing, I would have to learn how to communicate with Mom in a way that didn’t feed my resentment but healed my hurting heart. I would speak up lovingly but firmly. It may be dangerous with only one of us speaking a new language but the danger of buried resentment is far more toxic.
Finally, I’d have to let go “the big O”; the OUTCOME. I have no control over how she will respond to me. I cannot choose her words. I seem to be a repeat student with this whole surrendering thing. You’d think I be better at it by now!
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