Stop Being A Mother?

I am a mother.

Mercifully, I still have my own mother in a time when the majority of my friends have lost theirs. My mom and I have most certainly had our differences over the years. Big emphasis on differences. But she’s still my mom, and I know that she has always done the best she could to be a good mother. And no matter what my age, I will always be her child.

Many times, I’ve wanted to yell and scream at her, especially when she tells me what I should and shouldn’t do. But I’ve lived long enough to know that she just wants to help, and what sounds hurtful and critical is not meant that way at all. She wants to be relevant in my life, she wants me to be the best person I can be. So, I must let my interpretations of what I think she is saying fall through my mental sieve, and love her. It’s just the way it works for me. Time and experience, wasted anger and rage, have taught me to be the daughter of the woman who would give her life for me. At the end of the day, it’s all about respect. And the fact that my dad would probably whoop the living hell out of me, even at this late stage of the game, if I treated her with any disrespect.

My two daughters are the two best people I know. We get sideways sometimes. I’ll have an issue with one, and after exhausting the topic and getting nowhere, I’ll talk to the other about what I can do – or not do. Mothers are like that; we want our chicks to thrive in the best possible circumstances. And I’ve made more than my share of mistakes, unwarranted comments and offered advice has been misunderstood as hurtful criticism. This part of the mother job is the hardest. And that is an understatement.

Both of my daughters are adults. They are living adult lives. Yesterday, my youngest daughter and I got into it via text; she lives in another city and is making big decisions about the next few years of her life. I wanted to find out where she was in the decision process. Long story short – it ended badly. My opinions weren’t wanted, and I made it worse by pushing and pushing and pushing. Driving home from work, I felt like my skin was going to fall off, I was boiling inside. She was the one who, as a toddler, would press her face against the window and cry hysterically when I had to leave for work. She was the one who would throw up whenever I left town. But she’s an adult now. I forgot.

I’d invited my eldest daughter over for dinner last night. I was still in a swivet when I got home and the story of the day spilled out. She said, “Mom, you’ve got to let her go.” I’d never thought about it that way, but she’s right. The lessons always come from the most surprising places … and circumstances.

So, no matter what, I will always be here for both of them. For the tearful phone calls, for the requests for advice, to feed them when they are hungry, hug them when they are sad, laugh with them when we are amused, help them whenever necessary. Yes, I have to let them go. Hard but doable. This “freeing” process is going to take much discipline on my part. But I’m going to give it my best. I’m quite clear what letting them go doesn’t mean.

I will never stop being their mother. No matter what. Ever.

Be happy. Your choice.

Later.

A Backward Glance While Moving Forward

Reading a number of blogs this morning, I was struck by one headline. “Sometimes your decisions are not yours to make…” by The Reluctant Mom’s Blog. While I love reading all the funny pieces, I also appreciate those that provoke thought.

You decide to have children. Maybe you will, maybe you won’t, maybe you can, maybe you can’t. This decision absolutely changes the course of your life.

You decide to marry, divorce, be a star, buy a house, go to church, take a huge risk, never make any decisions. And, although you believe you know what you are getting into, you don’t. So I think we make choices, which turn into decisions after the fact. Some good, others great, bad, and middle of the road.  Going a bit further, perhaps decisions are the consequences of our choices.  And, regardless of the outcome, those of us who have the freedom to make choices are the lucky ones.

It would not seem so, if we only focus on the mayhem induced by a bad choice or three. But I believe in scale, yin and yang, reasoning. So I have to say that although the end product of our choices can be our worst nightmares, we still had a part in it.

When I made the choice to divorce some years ago, I had no clue what I was getting myself into. I was acutely aware of what I was getting myself out of. And no matter what anyone else thinks, divorce is, to quote a friend, “like being in a bad car wreck every single day”.  Those days, whether they span a week, a year, a lifetime, are indescribably atrocious. Individually and collectively.  I would not wish divorce on any couple I know. But sometimes it is necessary.

My ex is a good person. We have two daughters, two very bright stars, to mark the absolute best that came from our union. And I will never, ever be sorry for getting married because these two girls make the world a better place to live in. 

It has been my experience, personally and from observation, that when the woman initiates a divorce, she is the bad cop. Of course there are many exceptions, but I’ve not witnessed more than a few. As the saying goes, “it takes two”, but, in an effort to make sense of it, most friends and frenemies feel they must choose sides, fuel the rumor mill, and unintentionally make the aftershock of divorce so much worse than it needs to be. Choices, all. My exposure.

To make a long story short, the personal gains have far outweighed the losses. And I am not the same person I was. During, after, and since my divorce, I chose to be misunderstood. I am a private person and the inability to remain married was strictly between me and my ex. The toll was heavy in every way. But everything comes with a price to pay. And I wouldn’t change a thing.

Divorce scares the hell out of couple friends. It forces them to look at their own situation. And they don’t want to catch the disease. After the implosion of family, I think the hardest, most heartbreaking consequence was the loss of lifelong friends. Individual and couples. While they remained at the top of my grid, they quickly filed me in their “out” boxes. No longer a “couple”, a member of their clubs, a part of their gatherings.  After my family, my friends have always been the most important people in my life.  I was naïve. Loyalty is a given if I’m your friend.  Had no idea they would divorce me.  But good always comes from terrible.

There were the handful of friends who did not waver, who will always have my back. And, I have made so many new and strong alliances with amazing people I might have missed along the way. I now know what it’s like to be truly loved. I am not naïve about people any longer. While I still enjoy the occasional celebration with “the old gang”, I must admit that afterwards I usually wonder why I spent so much time mourning their disappearance. And it always comes back to the same conclusion: I believed them to be people they weren’t. My bad. But my good, because my life now is richer because of the people who are in it.

There will always be those days when my heart sinks, just for a minute. And that is awesome. Hearing about the activities and stirrings of my old life, still raging like a freight train with a full tank of gas, used to send me to bed for … however long. Getting that puppy down to a minute is progress, folks.

Even if it’s made one tiny step at a time. “Sometimes your decisions are not yours to make ….”. But it’s what you do with the consequences. This, in my mind, is what determines the wiggly course of your life. Dealing, learning, overcoming, changing, trying … all survival buzz words.

Later.

 

Keep Your Eyes On Your Own Paper

How many times did you hear that when you were in school?  I heard it ALOT because my eyes were anywhere but on my own paper.  Academically and socially.  Mercifully, my academic copycat issues ended when school did.  As for the social, well, it’s taken me a lot longer to care more about what I think than what others do. 

Can’t imagine my life without my friends. LOVE. But it is not my job to weigh in with my opinion on any choices they make.  It’s about respect.  This does not mean I can’t be a grumpy little snark .  Happens.  I don’t want to hear bad stuff about others unless there is a way I can be of help to them.  We have all been adults for a good while.  I respect the choices my friends make.  I might not choose the same for myself, but that is exactly my point. 

My learning curve came when I had a giant life transition some years ago.  Just living through it took all my mental and emotional strength.  I was strong, but so weak.  People I didn’t even speak to weighed in on my personal choices – lifestyle, hair color, men.  And I listened to them, because I couldn’t think clearly.  A dear friend who had been through what I was going through at the time told me, “You”ll be old news by next week.”  And she was correct.  Once I got my mojo back, finally learned to stand on my own two feet, and value my choices above comments from the peanut gallery, my life really changed.  For the better. 

I try to avoid throwing stones; I slip, like a recovering addict, but I get right up and screw my head back on, hopefully a little bit straighter. Mercy replaces misery, grace over gossip, love trumps fear.  The beautiful details of each life are the differences.  At least to me. I’ve learned the ground is truly level; life may not be easy all the time, but it sure beats the alternative.   And that’s why I try like hell to keep my eyes on my own paper. Every. Single. Day.

Forgive and Forget?

It is difficult to forgive an injury, but it’s the forgetting part that is the real bitch. And a mistake.  Raise your hand if you can forget. Now put it down – you are kidding yourself. Don’t get all pissy here.  There is a method to my madness.

We live in an undeniably imperfect world inhabited by imperfect people.  We all screw up. Some more than others; I’m a member of the first group, damn it.

We hurt each other. We love each other. We still hurt each other. That’s where forgiveness comes in, over and over.  When I can’t forgive something/anything, the bad feelings I store literally eat me alive. So, forgiveness is not an option for me. My interior cannot take the stress. I’m imperfect. When I screw up, it hurts someone. When I realize what I’ve done, I am beyond sad to think I could be so awful. If I am to experience being forgiven, then I must practice  forgiveness first. Okay, one down, one to go.

Forget?  There is an option here. I can say I have forgotten an injury yet hold on tightly to the bad, whipping it out when threatened. Armed with an emotional weapon. Or, I can learn what didn’t work, try to understand why it happened, and find a positive alternative.  Then, when a hurtful situation looms on the horizon, I remember to blow out the match before it ignites an emotional, hurtful fire.

Forgive, learn, remember.

God help me.

What’s Up?

I am.  It’s 2:45 am and this is the second time in a week that I’ve bolted up in the middle of the night. Wide awake.  This is not normal for me.  It only happens when I’m sick or I’m troubled .  In this case, it is the latter. I’d rather be sick. Not terminally, please God. Maybe just a little cold. Nevermind.

Yesterday, I had a long talk with the Cowgirl. We have been closer than sisters since middle school. We’ve weathered all things together since that time, barring a six-month period where we didn’t talk because I was a horse’s ass.  Thank God she forgave me because that entire time I felt like my right arm was missing. Don’t want to ever revisit that “season” of friendship. It was a horrid drought. But I digress.

When we were much younger, we talked at least twice a day and probably saw each other three or four times a week. That’s what you do when you’re younger. These days, we are lucky to have a good long confab when time allows.  She emailed me yesterday morning, and before she received my pithy response, she read this blog. She also reads between the lines. We cut right to the chase when we talk … no “Hello there, how’s it going?”. More like “What the HELL is going on?”.

The Cowgirl has excellent people skills. And she is well-loved by any and every one she’s ever met.  I respect her opinions, whether I agree or disagree with them. And damn if she isn’t right 99% of the time. She asks me the hard questions and she tells me the truth. That’s what she did yesterday. My tendency to keep my upsets bottled up inside went right out the window when I answered her phone call.

Yes, there is something amiss between me and a very important person in my life. Cowgirl read me the riot act, told me to grow “some” in the nicest way possible, be true to myself, honor what’s in my heart instead of reacting to a sensitive situation like a teenager. No whining about another’s behavior if mine doesn’t pass the acceptable level. If love is as important to me as I know it is, then I have to lead with it. No matter what.

So I have extended an olive branch – or three – to someone who means so very much to me. It is now 4 am. The olive branches have not been acknowledged.  And there is nothing more I can say or do at this very moment.  Except try to go back to sleep. Ha!