Sprawled out on my extra-long twin bed, phone cord stretched to the limit, I mustered up the courage to ask the question that’d been swimming in my head for months. “Why do you think we get along so well now? I mean, we never got along before I moved out. What’s changed?”
“I think you know by now, being a mom was not easy for me,” she sighed. “I wasn’t one of those women who came by it naturally. I stumbled along from day one, doubting every decision … especially after you were born. I had no idea how to be a girl mom. I just knew I wanted to do it differently than my own mom. So much of my parenting stemmed from what I DIDN’T want to do & what I DIDN’T want you to become. I knew I had to get it right.
“And the burden of responsibility was crushing.
“It crushed my joy and made our relationship more contentious than it ever should have been. I spent too much time teaching and not enough time listening. Too many nights spent yelling and not nearly enough laughing. But I had to get it “right”, remember?
“By the grace of God, we both survived. You turned out ok. More thank OK, in my biased opinion. Because of me? In spite of me? Who knows…
“But now, the burden of responsibility is gone. I’m not your coach or trainer any longer & I finally get to enjoy who you are.
“Your successes & failures are no longer mine. I did the best I could. I had some wins and a lot of losses. I did my best to teach you all I thought you needed to know. And now.. what you do with that is up to you and I can finally stand on the sidelines cheering you on.”
In the 2 years since I lost my mom, conversations like these are even more meaningful. I’m so blessed that we spent far more years as best friends than adversaries – despite our rough and rocky road. She was my biggest cheerleader by a landslide. But what I’m most grateful for is her willingness to be transparent. She was quick admit her mistakes and offer apologies, but even quicker to share her heart and help me avoid many of the pitfalls she fell into as a mom.
I felt that burden of responsibility as soon as I delivered my first child. It wrapped itself around me, weighing me down, choking me, before I even stepped foot outside the hospital. I knew I had to get it right because if I didn’t, my kid would be unprepared. He’d fail. And it would be my fault.
Maybe that fear is genetic… Or maybe it’s just part of being a mom. But because of my mom, that fear didn’t pull me under. It robbed me of far less joy than it robbed her. There’s been plenty of lecturing and more than our share of yelling, but there’s also been a lot of listening and an abundance of laughing. And none of that would have been possible without my mom. By coming alongside me and sharing her fears & her mistakes, offering advice and hugs, she relieved some of the pressure.
I guess you could say, she made my burden lighter.
That’s my normal.