Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day Truth from My Friend Jenn

Mother's Day brings up stuff for all of us, I think - gratitude, bittersweet memories, longing, profound sadness, guilt, shame, grief.....
I guess I just feel the need to acknowledge that.

My mother wasn't perfect.  She was a flawed human being like the rest of us.  She was alcoholic.  For years, her addiction was more important than her daughter.

This morning, MY daughter was asking me what were the most important things my mom had taught me.  The question kind of threw me for a loop because, in the midst of the many things she intentionally taught me, there were many things I learned by watching her make mistakes and committing myself to trying to be different from her.  Does that make sense?
So, to answer Nina's question.....

Some of the things my mom intentionally taught me:
* It's OK to let yourself be silly, flaky, quirky, different.
* Laughter is soooo good for you.
* Be grateful.  Make gratitude lists.  Focus on the positive.
* Sometimes you have to do things for your children that go against every grain of your own belief system.  But you do it out of unconditional love - and unconditional forgiveness.
* Judging people only pushes them away.  And besides, who are you to judge?
* The sun is always going to come up in the East - meaning no matter what happens, life is going to go on and everything is going to be just the way it is supposed to be.

Some of the things my mom unintentionally taught me - (things I learned not to do because she did them):
* Don't shut down and appear to withhold love and acceptance because you're mad at a person.  It's very frightening to be on the receiving end of that.
* It's really important to learn to say 'I'm sorry' - (I can count on one hand the times I remember my mom saying that).
* It is important to talk about your feelings and conflicts.  Pouting is like shutting a door in someone's face.
* It's possible to quit drinking because you want your children to know that you put them first.

Sooooo.... why am I writing this?
I don't want people to read Facebook posts and compare their insides with other  people's outsides.  I don't want people reading Facebook posts and thinking "look how perfect her mom was!"  or "look how much her children love her!"

My reality is that my mom wasn't perfect but she was the person who was meant to be my mom and the lessons she taught me (both those through her wisdom and those through her failings) were the lessons I needed to learn.  And I loved her.  And I miss her.  And I thank God for letting me be her daughter.

My reality is also that I am a flawed mom.
* I yell.
* I can put on my smiling face for someone else and turn around and snarl at my children.
* I have said things to my children that were totally and completely unacceptable to say - things that I will regret until my dying day.
* I have put my job and the needs of my clients before the needs of my children.  
* Many times, my children have risen to the occasion and actually exhibited much more maturity than I have.
* My selfishness and princessism have negatively impacted my parenting.
I could go on and on.....

But I also have loved my children with all of my being.  And I have asked forgiveness for my failings.
And every day, I try to do better - at least until I fuck up again.
And I believe that's the best any of us can do.

I love you Nina, Tyler (Tommy), and Joshua.

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