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!
Tonight I came home from the gym at 8pm to find my son and five of his friends watching TV and doing homework. Here is the positive: I like these kids and I am happy that they are comfortable in my home. Now that they are no longer using Axe Body Spray, they also smell pretty good. The negative: Mommy hit happy hour before Zumba class so she is a little cranky and WOULD LIKE SOME QUIET TIME PLEASE!
I can’t help but reflect on how parenting is so much different than I thought it would be. Let me share my thoughts with you.
A is for APPRECIATION. I want to thank my parents and family for shaping me into the person I am today; especially when it comes to parenting. Parenting is the hardest thing I have ever done. I am not one of those people that can say I love every minute of it because there are times when it really sucks. (Do you know how hard it is to admit this publicly?) I am ever so grateful that I am strong enough to stick with my convictions and do what it takes to shape my boys into good men.
A is for AWESOME. The two things I remember my parents saying are:
- “If you don’t know, look it up”. We had a set of encyclopedias, a dictionary and the public library. No Google!
- “You’ll figure it out”. I hated this one because I felt it was so much more efficient if someone told me the answer!
I thought my parents were lazy when they put so much responsibility back on me. Today I think they are awesome. I could only appreciate their savvy when I became a parent myself. Even if you do not have children, please know this. Parents do the best job possible with what they have to work with.
A is for AGELESS. Parenting continues throughout the lifetime of your child. I joke about my 22 year old son moving back home with me but I am lucky to have his company. I was ready to launch my adult life at 18 and never moved back home. This isn’t the right recipe for him. We are crammed into a one bedroom place and most days, we love each other’s company. It is also funny when I hear my words coming out of his mouth. “Mom, it’s late. I was worried.” I say, “Oh sorry, time got away from me. He says, “You know you could have called me!” Role reversal can be pretty darn weird!
A is for ARTICULATE. You are not guaranteed another day or another chance to tell someone how you feel or to right a wrong. Possessing the ability to understand and admit you made a mistake and then sincerely apologize is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and your relationships.
Living is a technology driven digital age, people are oversaturated with information so you may need to repeat your message in order for it to stick. There is nothing wrong with...
The Christmas holiday in my little Zen Den was simply wonderful. I hope that you too enjoyed a lovely December celebration whether it was alone or with family and friends.
There are many things that could (and did!) stress me out over the holidays. See my blog entry called “Christmas Crisis” if you are curious. However this year I experienced a new pressure. I felt the pressure to “be in a relationship” or at least have a date every time I attended a holiday party.
Why does it really matter?
Why does the pressure seem higher for single people at the holidays? There are millions of people out there dreaming of ending their dysfunctional relationships. They are envious of people like me eating take-out food in front of the TV while they have to dazzle others with witty conversation and their understanding of current events.
Is it the cold weather that drives the desire to hold hands and cozily cuddle up?
Is it primal behavior?
Or is it just bull shit?
Well, I am going to put a scratch to this itch and pony up. Ok, that sounded really strange! Let me clarify. I am officially in search of a relationship. Correction, please. I’ll start with trying to converse with an interesting gentleman!!!! I’ll take it slow. I am search of a quality date.
It makes a great deal of sense to try on-line dating. There is a nice safety net with virtual communication. I can screen out those that can’t spell or read! I can paste my profile and hope that I attract someone who matches my list of 59 “must haves”. Just kidding—I only have a few “must haves” like you MUST be single, kind, loyal, honest and intelligent. OK, a few more. You must be able to support yourself and communicate well. OK, OK. And you must live within 30 miles of me. There.
One of the dating sites asked a question that I don’t know how to answer. Can you believe it? I am haunted by this damn question. Help me with this, “What is one thing that you want people to know about you?” List one thing. Only one!
OK, if I let my thoughts fly, I could easily fill this page but that is not the exercise. I need to come up with one thing. Well then, why is it so hard to settle on one thing? I know myself pretty well but I find it impossible to prioritize my attributes. Plus I want to show I have a sense of humor. What am I going to say?
Does this mean I am over confident and a little arrogant or insecure and fearful of saying the wrong thing? I am confused. I will set this aside for tonight and trust that the answer will bubble up from my heart by morning. I’d love to hear what you think too.
I found this quote on a blog called Cindy T is for Triathlon. “They said the only way to get over a broken heart is to fall in love again. So I fell in love with myself. Best relationship of my life!”
How true! I am my own best company. I needed to fall in love with myself all over again which sets the stage for me...
There are times when the voices in my head can be really helpful! Recently I had a little situation where I decided to consult my inner wisdom or what I like to call, “My Girlfriend Voice or MGV for short” for a little advice.
Last Sunday, a friend hurt my feelings. There was no doubt that I was hurt but I couldn’t decide if I should I put a little space in between us or try to address the situation while the feelings were still fresh.
ME: My gut tells me to talk to my friend but I am worried that I may make the situation worse because my emotions may cloud my objectivity. I made a vow to myself to keep all of my relationships healthy so I feel the need to speak up. It’s confusing!
MGV: I am giving you the green light to talk now. Talk from the heart. Remember to use “I statements” and focus on how you feel. Breathe and make eye contact.
ME: (OK, here I go!) To my friend: “Tonight I was upset. When you did “X”, it made me feel “Y”. I know it is not your intention to hurt my feelings but I felt it was important to let you know while it was still fresh in our minds.”
ME: A yellow flag is flashing in my brain. Does your silence mean you didn’t hear me? Please, we are sitting eighteen inches apart. I pause. Ok, I’ll keep this simple and focused. I wonder if I should I reiterate what I just said?
MGV: AHEM. Slow down and proceed with caution. You may feel a little defensive and repeating yourself is not only unnecessary, it is really annoying. Relax. You have opened a dialogue. Sit tight. Take a breath. Stop pursing your lips.
ME: I don’t say this out loud but I don’t play poker for a good reason! OH? Did you just say OH? WTF? I was brilliantly articulate while emotionally charged. Sometimes it is not easy being me!!!
MGV: HOLY SMOKES. Take a breath. While your heart rate accelerates, you may lose sight of the importance of this moment. You have two choices:
- You can respond in a kind, compassionate manner. The past cannot be erased but perhaps you will help shape future behavior?
- You can react and do what you have countless times before, you can ARGULATE. (One of my favorite sources for information, Urban Dictionary, defines argulate as to argumentatively provide a hard-headed and ignorant fool the wisdom of your point of view; that which is undoubtedly right in every which way.)
ME: RESPOND OR REACT? Sounds familiar! I do try to follow my own advice but sometimes it is easier to do as I say and not as I do.
I turn to YOU and say lovingly, ...
This week I’ve been struggling to find the right words. My mind is a flurry of activity yet I don’t feel the usual melody in my story. What the hell?
Boom, it is 1am and the lights go on in my brain.
This topic is complex but when I drill down to the absolute core of what is important, it’s really rather simple. I’ll forego the need for a flowery explanation and witty prose of the backstory and share with you the facts. Just the facts, Ma’am, just the facts.
So what is my mystery topic? RELATIONSHIPS. I am talking about my blueprint for healthy relationships; the relationships between friends, family and lovers.
There are times when a relationship requires WORK. Not effort, but work. I am not talking about hitting a rough patch or feeling distant but rather you feel like you are running up hill, walking on egg shells or giving more than you receive. RED FLAG but I’ll continue this thought later.
So now that I have reached the divine and wise (ass) age of 50, what say I is the key? What is necessary in order to experience a mutually satisfying relationship? To help you remember, I’ve created a simple mnemonic; FUN!
The (F) FOUNDATION:
- I must understand who I am.
- I must love the person I am.
- I must be responsible for my actions, toward myself and others.
The (U) UNDERSTANDING:
- You enhance my life BUT I don’t need you to feel complete.
- We communicate honestly and respectfully, regardless of the subject matter.
- Our relationship is a priority NOT a contingency or a convenience.
The (N) NON-NEGOTIABLES:
- We each believe we are capable of loving another person and we deserve to be loved ourselves.
- We each own our own #$#@%. No blame or excuses!
- We explicitly agree that I am responsible for MY life and you for YOUR life.
- We relinquish the need to control what is out of our power and place to manage.
- We chose to live with an open and generous heart.
Back to that RED FLAG warning…. The first thing to examine is your role in the relationship. Are you grounded and open? Realistic? Codependent? This step is so often overlooked as blame, anger, resentment and other powerful emotions fuel unproductive exchanges.
Look in the mirror. You are the first step.
If it still isn’t working, you have a decision to make.
FUN = My personal blueprint. What’s your blueprint?
From the heart,
(Graphic courtesy of sodahead.com)
I was reminded this week of the way life moves at a pace all its own whether you are ready for it or not. One of my favorite people in my Friday reading group was absent for the last two weeks. I asked if he was on vacation but was told that because his disease had progressed so rapidly in the last month, he was moved to an assisted living facility. This day program is designed for those still able to live at home so I wouldn’t have the pleasure of Irv’s company any longer. My heart was heavy because this man had provided me with so many humorous anecdotes and stories of his life. I told him we would sit down and record of his memories once I purchased a decent recorder. I didn’t move fast enough…..
Today is your only guarantee.
Being that it is Father’s Day today, I am reminded of how my Dad loved to bask in the happiness of his children. It wasn’t until his father passed away that he admitted his dad never told him he loved him. My Dad knew Grandpa did love him but why was it so hard to say it out loud? As my Dad aged, he grew more sentimental and affectionate. There was never a time that I spoke to him that he didn’t remind me that he loved me. I carry this tradition through with my own children thinking what if this is the last time we speak? Now I know that is a bit morbid but let’s err on the side of morbidity just in case, huh?
I lost my Dad too soon. I knew the end was approaching and I felt a sense of urgency to convey a “lifetime of thank you” in a short period of time. I thought to myself, what will I regret not saying while I have the chance? So I chose a beautiful card and wrote to Dad letting him know that he shared many wonderful qualities and interests of which I was grateful. At the same time I may have inherited his stubbornness and impatience too! It was important to me to memorialize my thoughts.
My Dad encouraged me to find my own way and this is a big part of who I am today. I wasn’t the kind of kid that needed a lot of rules because not meeting his expectations was enough to scare the daylights out of me. I learned by experience. Yes, he was right that freshman shouldn’t date seniors but he let me come to my own conclusion after one miserable date. I even told him he was right! Finding my own way is an integral component of my success as a parent and business person. Most importantly, “finding my way” is what fuels me to discover both myself and the world. Finding my way helped me leave a dysfunctional relationship knowing I was going to be OK.
My Dad supported the idea that you don’t know unless you try….. but you can’t quit in the middle of the season! I wanted to play freshman volleyball and lucky for me everyone was accepted to the team. ...