I think life is an interesting journey. I have had the good fortune to have lived a wonderful life so far. I am not trying to say it has all been easy, or fun, or full of endless joy. My life has been filled with strife, pain, discomfort, sadness, sickness, and less than great finances. However, it has also been filled with joy, love, delight, excitement, happiness and breathtaking beauty. Life is just that. A rollercoaster ride with ups and downs. Hopefully more ups than downs, but that is not always in our control.
I used to attend OA (Overeater’s Anonymous) meetings pretty regularly. As a matter of fact when I was in the Navy I went through inpatient rehabilitation for an eating disorder. I was diagnosed with Compulsive Overeating. I ate and ate and ate. I was full and still ate. What I learned in rehab was that I was filling a hole in my soul with food. Instead of dealing with life on life’s terms I was stuffing down my feelings by stuffing my face. In rehab I learned to start accepting life on life’s terms, good and bad. I learned to start acting on life rather than reacting to it. I would like to say that rehab fixed everything, and I was a NEW person immediately afterwards. Unfortunately that was not the case. However, what did happen was I started taking more responsibility for my life, and started growing up.
Part of growing up is accepting the people in your life also. Accept them for who they are, not what you would like them to be. That is a lesson that has taken me many, many years to “get”. I did finally accept my family of origin, particularly my mother. I had always tried to “change” my mother into some idealistic mother that baked me cookies after school and thought the sun and moon set on me. After all, I was her only daughter. I wanted to be able to talk with her about everything and be friends. I wanted a “Carol Brady” mother, and tried for many years to “force” my mother to be this kind of mother. It didn’t work. In fact that kind of non acceptance of her, and irresponsible behavior on my part led to an estrangement between my mother and I that lasted for many years.
Fortunately in the past couple of years my mother and I have moved past the estrangement. We have been able to rekindle our relationship and I am so happy for that. In order for that to happen I had to grow up and accept my mother for who she is. I had to take responsibility for my actions. I had to apologize. I had to listen as she “talked” to me about my behavior. I had to listen without interrupting, without resentment, with open ears and an open heart. I had to let her have her say, and I had to accept that she had a right to her feelings.
What I came to realize is that my mother is the perfect mother for me. She is the mother the Universe gave me, and I am lucky for that. I wasn’t abused, I wasn’t beaten. I had a home, and medical care, and food in my belly. I was cared for and I was loved.
Now I am a mother. Some things I do the same as my mother, some things I do differently. I think our mothers influence us and we learn things from them that we want to pass on to our kids, and some things we don’t. My mother was not very demonstrative with us. She wasn’t very huggy and kissy, and didn’t tell us she loved us a lot. She had her reasons for that, and I am not judging her, she is who she is. However in contrast I tell my kids I love them all the time. I hug and kiss them (when they let me), and they tell me I sometimes love them “too much.” I may be overly affectionate, but I know that if anything were to happen to me, my children would have no doubt about how much I adored them. That is important to me. I often wondered if my mother loved me. I never want my kids to wonder about that.
However, there are ways I truly am my mother’s daughter, and for that I am grateful! I learned how to be strong, and deal with adversity. I learned from her how to deal with difficult situations and ALWAYS be able to provide for my kids. She told me to make sure I had a skill so I would never have to rely on anyone else. So I could take care of my children if I ever had to do that on my own. I am happy that I learned those lessons from her. It makes me a more effective mother.
In order for me to have peace in my heart and my soul I needed to accept my mother, just as she is, faults and all. I am glad she was able to do the same with me.
I am not sure what made me decide to write about my mother today, except that my father died last year at Christmas time. His two-year anniversary death is coming near. It will be a hard time for my mother. She has had to learn how to be a widow. My parents were married for 48 years and 9 months. That is a long time and my father died suddenly. It was completely unexpected and was very traumatic for my mother. Yet she has managed to get through it with grace and dignity. I am proud of her. She is an amazing woman, and I can only hope that I am like her.
I love you mom!