Thursday, December 21, 2006

synchronicity

This morning I read Bub and Pie's post about another sort of crushing - the importance of being seen and validated for our work as mother and was really struck by how much I could relate - about how it's the hardest thing I've ever done, and how no one really notices, because it's what you are supposed to do. To use her words, it's simply commonplace.

While that may be true, I also agree it's incredibly important for others to recognize the labor that goes into our fruits. And I have not felt a lot of that - more often than not conversations are filled with have you tried this, or have you checked into that, a well-intentioned form of support that somehow further chips away at the root ofI am not doing these things right. (Not that I don't seek advice liberally, because I do).

I was reflecting on it again while driving between my office and one of our shelters when my phone rang. My parents are staying with us for the next week, a combination holiday and a lack of child care during the holidays forced their early arrival, and while I haven't much spoken of my childhood, it's easiest to sum it up by saying I never felt mothered. And more often than not, my adult relationship with my mother is tense and frustrating, a talking over each other sort of non listening yet vaguely critical yet tolerant sort of blend.

She called to ask a quick question about M, and then said some of the most important words she has ever said to me in my adult life: I was thinking this morning that you are a much better mother than I ever was. You talk to M. You listen to her. You don't get angry. You are a much better mother than I ever was.

I was taken completely aback - she's never said anything like this before and she'll never really know how much it meant for her to say it now, because it would be impossible to have that conversation without unnecessarily wounding her, and I am long past the point of needing to do that. By saying: I learned what not to do from how I was raised, or, I try to be the mother I wanted as a child - all of that would hurt, and I know now she is trying. And I know she tried all along.

So instead I said (and believe) this: Thank you. But know there is a tremendous difference between mothering at 21 and mothering at 35. I have no idea what kind of mother I would have been at 21. You did the best you knew. And she hemmed around the edges and said perhaps, and let it go. And I let her, because that is not my cross to bear.

I believe in synchronicity and our collective fine tuning. I wonder if I would have gotten that call today if I hadn't been thinking so hard about Bub's post. I'll never know.

But I like to think the universe is connected that way. That our energies are swirling and dancing around each other all of the time. And that our thoughts can move mountains. Or help each other climb them.

29 comments:

crazymumma said...

validation. It sounds like she recognizes so much of what she could not give you at the time. i was pregnant at 21 and I truly do not think I would have been a good parent. So much can be healed with a few words, and you know Jen, knowing you 'virtually', what you speak of , how you speak of it.....your Mum did a few things right. I heard a I am sorry Jen in her words to you. Small wonder you are the woman you are today.

flutter said...

what you lack in feeling mothered, you more than make up in your ability to mother.
You are a beautiful creature.

Anonymous said...

It could be that it is your time of healing together. My mother and I gave it a shot ~ and it didn't work out.. but it is always important to try, no matter what.

My mother told me when I was .. mm.. 16 or so that she never wanted to be a mother. It was the most honest thing she ever said and I'm thankful for that. It took the burden off of me. I no longer had to feel her coldness and distance were my fault.

Your mother said something equally important and honest to you.. and I'm really glad you caught it.


Peace,

~Chani

Deezee said...

ah, our common pasts. I very much relate to your dynamic with your mom.

It's funny, I think what I'm doing best at this point is raising my son. I just wish I could be satisfied with the strength of that accomplishment without needing additional successes. I am very much a product of our culture, so again, I very much relate to your post...

Mommy off the Record said...

Wow. I am glad that you got to hear your mother say those words to you. What a nice compliment to you.

And I have to agree with crazymumma. Your mother must have done something right to raise such a good person.

I wish you and your family a very happy holiday season.

Anonymous said...

Something similar happened between my mother & I. I couldn't find the strength to post about it.....but I think you gave it to me by reading this. You have also made me aware of how my 'trying to help' may make me sound condescending.....I never really thought of it that way. So, I have to agree with you that the universe is connected that way & the power of our thoughts should not be underestimated. Thank you so much for this post. It hit me right in that raw spot, that's been aching for a cleansing.

KC said...

I like this idea of swirling energies. And what a wonderful thing to hear from your mother.

JP always carried anxieties about having children since his childhood was so pained. And of course, he is absolutely wonderful becase of it. But I think there are two types: those that follow in the same path (easier) or do the opposite.

You are a wonderful, wonderful mother dear Jen. I'm glad you felt it yesterday.

Her Bad Mother said...

My own mother has told me that she has learned so much more about me, now that I am a mother. And, of course, I her. It sounds as though your own mother has learned something about herself, through your motherhood and her grandmotherhood. That's a wonderful thing. xox

Jenny said...

I believe we are all connected. And I'm so glad to be connected to you.

Beautifully written.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful. I know that I have never felt closer to my mom than I have since The Boy was born. I understand her so much more, and she has been the biggest help.

Anonymous said...

Oh Jen, this is beautiful. A while back one of my sisters (the one who had her kids in her early 20s) said to me, "I regret that I was a bad mother. You have the advantage of maturity in your parenting." Then she cried. I was deeply touched. Her children are now adults and are super adults.

Sometimes I sing the blues when this old body of mine resents getting down on the floor or schlepping around all 27 pounds of toddler wonder but I am grateful that I came to parenthood feeling as if I had finished being a child myself. I know my daughter would get so very many benefits out of having a younger mother but I do believe in my heart that this old bag of bones will do just fine.

BTW--in case there is confusion: I have an old bag of bones. You are a young sprite to mine eyes.

meno said...

Wow. Your mom said that? I am impressed. What you say about your mother rings so near to my own experience.
I read a comment on someone else's blog a while ago by Mir (don't have the link) about how healing it is to love a child how you would have liked to have been loved. That has been so true for me. I was so afraid that Em and i would end up with the same distant relationship that i have with my mother, but that's not the case.
I think we really were watching and learning from our mothers. But we were not learning what they thought, we were learning what not to do.
Peace and love to you and your family.

Anonymous said...

what a wonderful christmas present- to get validation from your mother. You treated her with respect and compassion. So now I'm tearing up at work....

Anonymous said...

I was talking about this very thing with one of my friends a while back. She was upset because she had just yelled at her children (FOUR.OF.THEM!) and she so desperately wants to be a mother who does not yell. But, knowing my friend's mother and watching my friend mother, I know that she is only getting better at it. So I said something that I didn't know I believed or thought until I said it: We are successful parents if we can give our children more than what we were given.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the swirl of energy on this gorgeous morning. I needed that extra spark.

Anonymous said...

It is amazing to me too, the way my relationship with my own mother has been healed (or is healing) by my becoming a mother myself.

Anonymous said...

Your post gave me shivvers. Such validation. Such incredible insight.

And I can relate ... I did not feel mothered (but my mom was 30 when she had me) and our relationship is still tense. But she loves my son fiercely and I have begun to see her with new eyes as a result.

acumamakiki said...

I love this so very much. It's validation and in a sense, closer. That is a true gift for this holiday season dear Jen.

Penny said...

A beautiful post with a beautiful Christmas present for the both of you. You are a wonderful daughter. And mother. And friend.

Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful thing for your mom to say. And I think you're right not to add her guilt and regret.

Seems to me that guilt is one common element among all mothers, some more than others. And the other commenters are right that she obviously did something right.

Anonymous said...

Genuine apologies are rare - and to combine one with such a meaningful compliment is even more rare. When I read those words it was like a hit in the solar plexus. I'm glad you got to hear them.

Momish said...

It's amazing how mothers still can have that ability to make us grow, even when we are mothers ourselves. It is such a rare and unique dynamic between mothers and daughters.

I should only hope one day I can do the same for my daughter as your mother has done for you this day. Simply because it is a mother's role to forever promote her child and make her more than herself, and applaud that growth. Even the best of moms should still strive for that at every stage in motherhood.

carrie said...

For whatever reason, I am so glad for you and your mom that you were able to have that conversation. Who knew????? Now, see what happens, it should be good.

As for the validation, we all need it, and seldom does it come without strings, but when it does, oh boy does it feel good. You are a wonderful mother, I hope you know that!

Merry Merry Everything!!

Carrie

mamatulip said...

This is part of the reason why I ache so much for my own mother now that I'm a mother myself. It sounds selfish, but I really wanted her to see me as a mother. To see how I'd change, and so I could hear that validation too.

I'm so glad your mother got to say that to you, and that you got to hear it.

k said...

this post was beautiful. i love that you responded the way that you did. thoughtful. compassionate.

your relationship with your mother sounds just like mine, and i hope to one day have a similar moment with her, but if i don't ever have a moment like that, i'll live.

this was really great to read though.

Anonymous said...

That is great. The relationship you described having with your mother sounds eerily familiar.

My mother and I are usually very tense around each other. To others she talks about me and mine like we are the greatest....but to me...not so much.

The closest thing to that my mother has ever said to me was "I guess I was a bad mom." Of course, since she was obviously seeking reassurance my job was to say...no you weren't. We are just different. (She too was 21)

Take your mothers words to heart and relish in it. (of course, privately) I am with you in not wanting to add any more wounds....it gains nothing. But SOMETIMES....Sometimes I truly feel as if I would love to just go crazy on her and hash out all the injustices I have felt over the last 30 years. I never do. I have been hurt enough for both...no reason to spread it around.

wendy boucher said...

Happy Holidays. Enjoy the benefits of synchronicity. How awesome.

QT said...

I was very lucky growing up - I was shown in every way how cherished I was. I hated it as a teen, but now as an adult I look back and I know it was a gift.

I love that you were tender and gracious with your mom when she was vulnerable. I iwll try to do that this holiday.

Mamma said...

I think having your own children is the best way to understand your own parents. One of the best gifts I've received was to understand that my mother did the best she could. I hope my own children understand that some day.

Thanks for reminding me...