I did not buy my mom a gift this year. She understands. It's going to be a tough week. We move on Friday. My house is full of half-labeled boxes of stuff, at least a third of which we'll likely never touch again. I'm distractible under the best of conditions and highly distracted this week.
Anyway, I had intended to give her a different sort of gift - to relay to her two memories I have of her as a parent that have given me a powerful roadmap for the kind of person I want to be. Instead, I called her today and complained to her about something that might or might not happen over the next week or so. She listened patiently, but we both know it was three minutes of her life she can't get back.
So here's the two stores, so I don't forget to tell her how important these moments were to me as a child, a spouse, a parent and a human being.
First, I was in fourth or fifth grade, and I walked in the house after school wearing a black armband. My mom glared at me and asked me where I got it and if I knew what it was for. I told her my teacher put it on me and said I didn't know what it was for. She ordered my brother, my sister and me to get in the car. She made a quick call, and we were off. Next thing I know, I was sitting in the waiting room of the office of our school principal, a stately and formidable nun who scared student and teacher alike. I overheard my mother saying something about how her children were not to be used as "billboards for church propaganda" or something to that effect. The lesson I learned, not then but as I reflected on it many years later, from this moment: don't be someone else's billboard - think for yourself.
Second, I remember asking her, after I had ended my first marriage and shortly thereafter become very serious with my new boyfriend and now husband, if she was worried that I would serially make mistakes in my relationships with men. She said no, that she knew Ryan and I would figure it out. She also told me she wasn't going to worry about it because there wasn't much she could do about it anyway. I was my own person and entitled to make my own mistakes and to learn from them. The lesson I learned, again not until much later when I became the parent of a headstrong 8-year-old daughter, was that sometimes you're just the spectator in your kids' lives and sometimes you're a participant - the good parents figure out when to be what.
I love you Mom. Happy Mothers' Day. Thanks for everything.
Momma T and the Mighty Murphys
- ► 2010 (37)