LOVE…and All Its Idiosyncrasies
I wasn’t all that close to my mom. And yet, I was. I know that doesn’t make much sense and I know, I just know I’m going to cry as I write this. How honest can I be without hating myself? It’s Mother’s Day. I loved her. I miss her. And I am also relieved she has passed. Horrible to say. Horrible to write. Horrible to admit. She loved me unconditionally. I the same. But I’m not sure we liked each other all that much.My mom was a stoic. She was the eldest child and gave up her dreams early on to take care of her siblings. Her brother died very young. Her sister was the pretty and popular one. She wanted to go to college but instead “got stuck” taking care of her mom who had two nervous breakdowns. And then she married my dad and put her personal dreams away for good. The list goes on, including her choice to have me.She grew bitter. She was what one may call a pessimist. She was harsh. She was critical. She didn’t like me laughing too much. She often questioned my choices. Do you want people to stare at you? Aren’t those jeans a little too tight? Isn’t that skirt too short? Must you make such a fuss with your hair? You know you’re pretty, but you do realize your looks will fade? Aren’t you going to eat something else? Have you practiced this week? Can’t you be more like your brother?
Still, I felt safe. Loved. Cared for. Thank god my dad was the complete opposite. Warm Fuzzy. Goofy. Affectionate. She didn’t like that at times either. My mom and I didn’t have that closeness my dad and I did. We just didn’t have all that much in common I guess.
But I do thank her for so many things. I’m here. I’m thriving. I’m educated. And I have found passion. And in a way, I have her to thank for my love for reading and writing. I could get away from the nagging when I read. I didn’t have to worry if I was pretty enough or smart enough or good enough.I was the girl who always read and who carried her notebook with her everywhere to jot down things she observed: The woman smoking with her coat pulled tight against herself in the cold wind. The shy teenage boy glancing at me from under his long bangs, fidgety and nervous. The plump 3-year-old pulling on her mother’s pants in defiance to get attention.And I was the kid who would hide books I shouldn’t be reading under my mattress, where my mom couldn’t find them, books I had been forbidden to read. I was the teenager who couldn’t wait to sneak off, not to party, but to retire to my room where all my secret stories lay hidden. Stories or poems I had scribbled into my notebook or books I couldn’t wait to read again and again, earmarked, stained, and tattered. Maybe that’s why I like reading taboo subjects so much. I knew my mother wouldn’t approve. Heck, she couldn’t even talk about the birds and the bees with me. Raised Catholic, she was of the notion — “Hear no evil, see no evil.” If we didn’t talk about sex, surely it couldn’t exist, right? Oh. But it existed. And it was glorious to discover.
But somehow over the years, and especially after I went away to college, I was able to find myself and slowly came to understand my mom. The one time I actually saw her cry was when I left for college and she tucked “Oh the Places You’ll Go” into one of my suitcases without uttering one word. I never for one second doubted that she loved me. I realized she just didn’t want me to suffer the disappointments she had. I realized she was trying to save me from getting hurt. I realized she was just trying to protect me from the heartache she had faced.
I do still carry that fear of taking chances with me, but I have also learned that without taking them, I will experience very little. I don’t mind pain all that much I guess. For without it, I cannot know pleasure. I have experienced both on each side of the scale with vigor.
I love you, Mom. I carry your heart with me…
Originally published at rbobrien.weebly.com.