So I spent part of my birthday with my mother. This is an amazing thing when you consider that this is the first time in over 3 yrs. that I've decided on my own, without being asked by her, to visit. The simple fact is that for the first time in my life she has earned my trust. I trust her with my heart, I trust her with my children. I've even trusted her with my cooking blog, which I was sure she'd rip apart with "constructive criticism". She's only shown support. This I am NOT used to. But I'm accepting it and trusting that I'm not going to get hit upside the face with negativity when I least expect it. I think, hope, as I always have, that it just won't happen. It's a pretty big thing. I think she really knows now not to mess with my kids, and though there have been times when she's been critical, I give them the are you okay? look and get a satisfactory answering nod and we skip right over it and try to enjoy her in all of her craziness. She's crazy. Absolutely bonkers. And that makes for lots and lots of laughing.
The single most critical healing episode in our relationship occurred this last Christmas Eve at my mother's house. My husband, sons, and nephews were sprawled all over the living room and game room, even under the pool table, if I recall, fast asleep. My stepfather was still crashed in the upstairs bedroom while my sis and her boyfriend were still in the guest bedroom, wiped out from our all night Monopoly game. I was up early and then Mom came downstairs. She made us coffee and then we took all of the German pastries we had out the night before to the dining room table and sat down and...talked. Talked.
We had never talked before. It has always been a sore spot with me that the only mother/daughter talk we'd ever had in my life was when I was eighteen. She'd told me that if she had to do it all over again she would have chosen to not have children. I think in her mind she was giving me a fabulous bit of advice that no other woman from her generation would dare voice. I know now that she was wishing at age forty with a preschooler that she had made other choices, and wanted me to explore my options and live my life before falling into the whole marriage/children "trap". I knew this, understood where she was coming from, but I also understood her view on motherhood from a very early age. She never liked it.
But here we were, sitting at the table sipping coffee together and TALKING. I have subjects that I've promised myself are off limits with her, things we will never agree on that only make me feel bad, so I just steered us around those and it was lovely.
Then we started talking a little in my message box on Facebook and have never stopped. When she said something that just floored me, I saw that she is like me. She can write or type things that she could never say out loud. Kind of like my little blog here. I can't voice what I can bring myself to write here. She typed in her message to me, "I have always loved you to the bottom of my soul!" From day one as a mother, I have made it a point to make sure that my sons felt loved. That I didn't just say it, but that they felt it without me having to open my mouth. With her words I felt it, and I felt as if I finally had a real mom, rather than envying everyone elses.
I bit the bullet and decided that since my dad was driving over to see me the day before my birthday to take me out for a birthday dinner, that I wanted to see my mom for my birthday too. I rarely get to see my parents together since the divorce, so I figured that seeing them both in two days was as good as it gets. And that's what I wanted for my birthday.
No monopoly, no vodka, or the usual Jack Daniels. It was poker and mojitos at Mom's. Oh my, we laughed until we cried...through the night. And the whole time I couldn't stop looking at my mother's hands. They were her mother's hands, but lacking the gnarled knuckles and bulging veins that my Oma earned with rough work. Then I realized, as I looked down, that they were my hands. The boys tease me and say that I look 28 until you look at my hands. They are really showing my age and my knuckles are always nicked up this time of year from outside projects. And, for the first time ever, I noticed a resemblance between me and my mother, a physical resemblance to her and her mother. It was weird. I don't look like her. She has enormous, sparkling blue eyes like her mother. I have my daddy's reddish brown hair and chestnut eyes. But now I look down at my own and see my mother's hands.
Friday, I took my family with my dad and his wife on a Father's Day picnic. My dad has never had to earn my trust or build a relationship with me. He has never damaged ours so has never had to work to repair it. We have been buddies since day one. That was it. Buddies. I adore my father.
We were standing on the river bank fishing when my dad walked past my son and me to give us the fabulous spot
he found, going to find another. My son said, after Dad had moved on through the brush in his khakis, "Grandpa
looks like someone you would see in The Walking Dead." I laughed and
said, "Yup, that's my daddy. I wouldn't want
to be in a zombie apocalypse with anyone else. We always said Indiana
Jones reminded us of Dad. That's my daddy." He nodded, understanding completely. I love that
my sons see how awesome he is too. But then, when I was standing with Dad while we were tying fishing lures onto our lines, I looked down at his hands. They were my hands. They were his father's hands. I saw my hands and Grandpa's in them. There were the same splotchy patches near the thumbs where his skin lacks pigment. The same as my "reverse freckles".