When I was a rebellious child and teen, my mother wasn’t right about anything that related to me. She thought she was, but she wasn’t.
Now that I’m in my 50s, it turns out she actually was right. Unfortunately, she didn’t live long enough for me to get it and acknowledge it to her. So sorry, Mom. I hope my daughter gets it before I’m gone, but if she doesn’t, well, it will probably just serve me right.
It’s not perfect amends, but maybe a Mother’s Day retrospective will go some apologetic distance, and maybe get some of you reflecting on what your mom may have actually known. If so, and she’s still alive, please tell her so.
Here are some of my revelations that Mom tried to convey way back when…
1. I actually do look better in short hair. I finally cut it all off a few years ago, mostly because I got tired of trying to make it work. Turns out it didn’t work because I stubbornly refused to listen to Mom when she said, “Your face shape is perfect for a pixie cut.” They called them that back in the day. “Just like Mary Martin in Peter Pan.” I prefer to think of Ellen, but yah, I have found the hair that fits my face. And I’m so happy. Complete strangers come up to me in weird places and tell me that I’ve “inspired” them to do it, too. Crazy, but nobody ever said that to me when I had long hair.
2. Blue actually does look good on me. When I was a fashionista teen, I hated that my mom kept telling me “blue was my color.” I don’t know why really; maybe it just wasn’t a cool color when I was in high school, unless it was the denim blue of jeans. But now I find that my skin tone, eye color (blue) and hair color really light up when I wear some shades of blue – like turquoise, or teal. Red is still my favorite color, but I have blue things, and I’ve made my peace with the idea that it’s a good color.
3. Being over-dramatic isn’t just annoying and stressful to others, it’s actually self-damaging. I was the ultimate drama queen. Everything was a story…everything was emotion-filled. I yelled and slammed doors when I was mad. Everything was a big production. Not surprisingly, I did well in high school theatre. But the older I get, the more I realize how much anxiety and pressure I dumped on myself when I expended so much energy in catastrophizing everything. Seeking peace in my life started with first asking, “What’s the worst that could happen here? Really?” and going from there. The annoying to others part…that’s really covered in #4.
4. I actually should think before I speak. (Corollary: Not everything I think necessarily should actually come out of my mouth.) Yah. Big one. I always thought that being totally honest meant you had to say what you were thinking in every situation, with everyone. I didn’t understand what discernment, or filters, or boundaries, were. Not all the way there yet, but I’m definitely working on it.
5. Actually, I can be my own worst enemy. Sad, but true, Mom. She always would say this when some disaster befell me, and it was always in a voice tinged with sadness, and a shaking of the head. I thought she was just being dramatic, so it made me angry. I now see that it actually hurt her that I was self-destructive. I see this now so clearly that I’m a mom. Moms’ hearts hurt for their kids when they see them hurting themselves. It will ever be thus. Sadness for what they have to suffer, and acceptance of the reality that as a parent you are helpless to prevent it happening to them.
6. It actually does matter if a family sits down to at least one meal a day together. This I didn’t figure out until my daughter got into her teens and started missing the dinner meal with me. Our daily connection didn’t happen, because that was the one time of day we had been able to count on, if no other.
7. Life actually is short. Is this something we ever get when we’re young? Probably not. And maybe that’s as it should be, but I sure get it now. Approaching the big 6-Oh! this year makes me crystal-clear on that subject.
8. It actually doesn’t kill me to say I’m sorry. This one I wish I’d gotten a lot sooner in life. As a result, I have a long list of life amends to make now, and I’m getting busy with that. I’m also learning that there are right and wrong ways to do it.
9. I really don’t know what I’m talking about. Okay, okay, I said it. I had no idea what I didn’t know when I was young. The more education and life experience I got, the “smarter” I thought I was becoming. And then a funny thing started happening. Everything I learned begged 10 more questions to which I didn’t have the answers. It was as if there was a natural formula of the universe revealing itself to me, and it looked like this: Knowledge > = Knowledge <
10. Mother really does, actually, know best. It is true that our elders know more than we do and they deserve our attentive and curious ear. But moms (and dads) even more so. Nobody on earth will ever know you or love you with the fierceness and hope for your life success of your parents. They are not be perfect, or always healthy enough to love you in the way you should be, but no matter who they are, they have a bond with you that nobody can ever share.
If you’re a mom, Happy Mother’s Day. If you’re a son or daughter, think about sharing this with your mom on Mother’s Day. It may start a conversation you’ll remember forever.
Ask, and you shall receive…