Since my divorce, I have invested a ton of time into revamping who I was to become the person I am today. But I am not perfect, so sometimes the one I was shows up. However, on this Mother’s Day, I have had the opportunity to reflect on the many things I have learned from the many shows I have watched and the many books I have read. Most importantly are the lessons I have learned from my sons. So as a tribute, to both my boys, for without you I would not be a mom, here are the things you have taught me.
1.) To let go. This one, I believe, for most parents, is the hardest. None of us wants to sit back and watch as our children go places we may not agree with, endlessly struggle and fail time after time after time. Yet, if children don’t get this opportunity how else will they develop courage, strength and vision to obtain the life they want? They won’t if we, as parents continue to hold their hands, shovel the shit behind them and baby them every step of the way. Which leads me to…
2.) Believe in me, no matter what. Recently, my oldest son got engaged and moved in with his girlfriend. It was not something which I knew about before hand, but was informed of at a time when I least expected it. And, it was not something I approved of. Yet, I had a choice. I could mouth off, telling him exactly what I felt about the situation and what I thought he should be doing. Do you see? What I felt, what I thought. And what would that have done to us…to our relationship? So, I kept my mouth shut, my feelings sealed inside, my thoughts contained to me, myself and I. Because his life is not mine. And if I truly love him, then I need to believe in him. Because he is living his life the way he wants, on his terms, happily. He deserves to do just that.
3.) Listen. The last two times I have been transporting my youngest son back home from college, he has kept up a 5 hour conversation. Both times, he felt safe enough to spill his guts, be truthful about his future and tell it like it is. Occasionally, I put in my two cents. For the most part, I just listened, without thinking about commenting, without criticizing, without thinking anything, just listening. And, you know, because of that, I heard the vulnerability, the rawness, the pain through each word my son spoke. But I also heard for each problem he poised, a solution he was coming to terms with. I know he is struggling through life’s hits. I remember being 20, knowing what I wanted to achieve but not being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. He is there as well. But I also know, he is doing fine talking about it, getting it out, coming to conclusions, learning to accept what is, and taking one day at a time instead of focusing on the future.
4.) Accept me for who I am, not for who you want me to be. How many of us parents fail at this one every day of our children’s lives? And how many relationships have been broken beyond repair because of it? It is so hard growing up trying to be one’s true self, but always, in the back of one’s mind, having to adjust because we desperately want approval from our parents. Believe me, this does not stop despite age. My breaking away began the day I told my parents I was getting divorced and they would not be able to talk me out of it. At that time I was 49 years old. From then on, I have lived my life, the way I want, without worrying about whether they or anyone else approves of it. You see, no one, but me has lived through what I have. No one, but me, has experienced the stuff I have, grown in ways I never imagined and learned the things I have. No one, but me, has been me so how could they know who I am or what I have gone through or what I have felt? They don’t…at least 100%. They only know by the things I wish to reveal or the moments I wish to share. And because no one has walked in my shoes, I can’t claim to have walked in my kids shoes either. So, I have made the choice to accept my boys as they are, not who I want them to be. You see, it’s not up to me. My opinions, my thoughts, don’t matter and shouldn’t matter. What matters is accepting them, wherever they are in life and whomever they are. That is true love, in its most unconditional form.
5.) Finally…To apologize, to forgive and to move on. Unfortunately, since the last 10 years or so of my marriage was not one made of fairy tales, my boys not only witnessed a relationship falling apart but also were often on the other side of my anger, my frustration and my bad mothering. For that I have many regrets. One of which, I would have had the courage to leave my marriage sooner so my boys would have had an earlier chance of growing up in a more stable, peaceful environment. Yet, today, after countless apologies, on my part, they both have forgiven me. I am not sure why, because I don’t deserve it after the ways I treated them. But they have told me they understand. Looking back, I realize, the turmoil was so great I did not know where to turn to get away from it. I knew I needed to leave, but I was not going without my boys and until I faced my fear of financial security, I was not going to leave. And when I left, or actually when I kicked my ex out, was the day I made the choice to change not only myself, but also the environment in which my sons had been raised. I knew I could never get back the dark days they endured but maybe I could give them a future of hope, light, peace and love of which they deserved. Today, I am still on the journey to repair, mend and be the me I was meant to be. And my sons, because they were able to forgive and move on, continue to love me as I grow. And I continue to love them as they forge the paths of their lives.
Thank you both for making me the mom I am today. All of us have changed, grown and are becoming the people we were born to be. And all of us have learned to love a bit harder, laugh a bit longer and hug a bit tighter.
Love you both
Always and in all ways,
Mom or aka woman-as my youngest likes to refer to me 😉