I talked to my mother on the phone last night for 2.5 hours. Time was, many years ago, where that was a short call for us. My husband, my kids, all knew, "When Grandma calls, find something else to do, Mom will be on the phone all day."
I had talked on the phone with my Mom for the first time in many months just two weeks ago when I was in the hospital for emergency surgery. My partner pointed out that I would be an absolutely dreadful daughter if I didn't call my mother to let her know I was in the hospital. He said, "If one of your daughters was in the hospital and only sent you an e-mail, don't you think you'd rip her uterus out next time you saw her?" Yeah, he can be a violent guy. But he had a point.
So what had me going so long without talking to my mom? Well, simply put, I had hit another life stage where I felt I simply had nothing in common with her and felt wounded by many perceived injustices both past and present.
And you know what?
I'm glad I called her.
I had forgotten, for whatever reason just how much she and I have in common. I am practically a carbon copy of that woman. And I've realized through the events of my life this year that what I once perceived as failing in her was simply my own naivete.
Why you ask?
Well, I saw her as harsher, less trusting, less believing in the goodness of others and the world. And yet, here I am, 34 years old and my own veil of innocence is being lifted. I'm starting to see the world a bit more realistically. I'm realizing that not everyone means well to their fellow human being and in turn, I'm becoming a little more skeptical and a little more cautious.
At the same time, my own children are now young adults. I find myself hitting that panic stage where I worry about their launches into being independent people. I'm questioning myself, my parenting, my choices, and everything in between. And in this questioning, I find understanding. Understanding for my mother and what I had previously perceived as slights against me as a person were simply her own worries, fears, questions of herself and her choices.
Last night, as we chatted, we talked about our differing perspectives during my teen years. She said, "I blame myself, you know. I should have tried harder to help you, to get you to do what I thought you ought to so that you would be in a better place now."
I said, "Mom, please don't blame yourself for that. That was me and my choices. You told me what you thought was the best path for me and I flat refused to take it. That's not your fault, that's mine. I don't think there was anything you could have said or done differently to cause me to change my mind, I was far too stubborn."
She replied, "You come by that honestly, you know. Not just from me, but your father, as well. We're both absolute mules when we think we're right."
I consoled, "Yeah, that's definitely me, Mom. But here's what I want you to know: Even though I now know you were right, I should have taken that path you suggested, you still raised one heck of a kid. You know I won't take shit from anyone and thanks to you, to you, Mom, I am one of the strongest people I know. Because of how you raised me, how you taught me to see the world, when life gets tough, I don't take that as a sign to quit, I take that as a sign to try harder."
"You know, honey, that's funny. That's how I've always seen the world. Whenever things get difficult and I fear I'm going to fall, I take that as a sign to fight harder. I wouldn't let anything or anyone keep me down if they manage to knock me down."
"I know, Mom, me too. And thank you, thank you so much for that. It doesn't matter what I thought of it when I was a kid, it's one of my strongest assets now and I can never thank you enough for bestowing that feature on me."
And now I remember why it is that my Mom and I can spend so much time on the phone. She is me, older and wiser, more learned about the world. Talking to her is therapeutic in so many ways, coming to terms with both who I've been and who I am and keeping an eye on who I will yet become. Because try as I might, I will always be her daughter and I'm damned proud to say as much.