My mother is a tender soul and I have not always treated her tenderly. Because of my challenging childhood, my mother and I have always had a complicated relationship. I have related to her as a reminder of ‘failed’ parenting (‘How could she have let those things happen to me?’) and she probably has viewed me largely as a reminder of her own insecurities as a parent (‘How could I have let those things happen to her?).
Neither of us really took the time to see the other as a perfectly imperfect human being trying to make it through life to the best of our abilities and relating from that space. Last night, I was out with a friend and she asked me, “Do you like your mom?” My reply was, “Sometimes.” I went on to say, “I love her, but I don’t always like her” which I didn’t really mean, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
My friend suggested that when I show my mom more compassion, I’ll have the healing that I need, as she is a mirror for how I treat myself. Whew!! That blew my mind because I felt the truth in it.
Later, as I was sitting at my computer, I started thinking, ‘I lied. I DO like my mom. She’s a great person. She’s cool. I really do like my mother. I love her and I’d lose my freaking mind if something happened to her.’ My eyes immediately filled with thick, hot tears as I realized she needed (had been waiting all my adult life) to hear that.
I walked down the hall to her room, flinching all the way, which let me know it was the thing to do. I went to her room and with tears streaming down my face said the most honest, raw thing I’ve ever said to my mother in my entire life:
“Mama, I apologize for not treating you with more compassion. I love you very much and I’m sorry that I’ve been beating up on you all these years. I’ve been beating up on myself and you are the outward projection of that and I am so so sorry.”
I walked over to her and we hugged for what seemed like a very long time and I had not hugged (really hugged) my mother since my husband died 20 years ago. As I hugged her, I said “I know you did the best you could and I’m so sorry.” I felt my mother’s love for me in her embrace and I knew our relationship had changed forever.
We ended up staying up until 4:30 this morning. We talked about everything from love and relationships to Stephen King (lol). We played Words with Friends and just enjoyed each other’s company.
I know we may still have work to do, but a new foundation has been laid on the basis of mutual love and compassion and that’s a tough foundation to crack.
*dedicated with love, compassion and respect to my Mama, who has loved me when I acted unlovable and to Terri, who asks the questions that move mountains.