Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The Need

I'm a bit introspective today.  I have spent the day with my mother and that always launches me into analyst mode.  I'm constantly searching for clues to understand her and also my life better.  My mom is an Eeyore.  My friend, Sue, shared that term with me.  It means someone who has made up their mind that they are always a victim and that they are somehow not meant to be happy.  I have definitely had some Eeyore moments...even complete phases in my life.  However, I am much more tuned into the survivor mode-I made it through lots o' crap and God just used it to build my testimony.  I have made up my mind to be happy-in good times or bad.  I want to soak up the good things life has to offer.

I tend to think of myself as the first generation of God being faithful to my Mom's profession of faith.  He has promised hundreds of generations of blessings for the ones who start the new, different generation-a generation of believers.  My mom came from a home that was very troubled.  The kids were aware that is was dysfunctional in all caps but there was nothing they could do.  My mom did eventually live with an aunt until she married my dad.  Oh how madly and thoroughly she loved my father.  Obsessively.  Compulsively.  I believe she still loves him that same way today, despite being married to my stepfather for over 30 years.  (Obviously the marriage to my father did not work out.)  We will just leave it as my dad was not marriage material.  He is currently unmarried (after 3 failed marriages) and has every plan to remain so.

So, now after all these years of being a mom myself, some of the things lacking in my childhood seem incomprehensible.  They seem like things that happen automatically when your child is born.  But, that isn't always the case.  While on one hand I don't believe that there is anything that cannot be overcome with hard work and help from God; on the other hand, I also believe there are things that happen to you that change you forever in very significant ways.  Life turned my mother into an Eeyore.  She graduated from the school of hard knocks and makes sure everyone knows it.  (I have a strain or two of that in me as well.)

I feel compassion for my mother-endless compassion.  I can make excuses for her behavior.  I can excuse some of the things she says and does.  I am easily angered by her.  When she wrongs me or my family, I strike like a rattlesnake.  Then, I forgive and work really hard to forget.  I pity her in countless ways.  I consider her a victim...not because of the wrongs done to her, but because she chose and still chooses victim status.  We have those two choices-survive or be a victim.  I don't know many people who have breezed through life unscathed by it's sharp thorns.  We all have our scars.

Today, I saw my mother beam and light up over a compliment from a stranger.  We were sitting in the doctor's office and a lady walked in, complimented my mom's beautiful yellow outfit and went about her business.  My mom leaned over to me and said, "I'm gonna get the big head now, it has been so long since I had a compliment, I don't know how to act."  It made her whole day.  She was happy, really happy the rest of the day-I might even go so far as to say,  she was giddy. 

My eyes are watering to think that a complete stranger has that kind of power over someone.  That someone could need approval from others so desperately.  It gave me a glimpse into just how deeply I have hurt my mom through the years by being critical of her, of my upbringing, of her choices.  I can recall very few compliments I have given to my mom.  In fact, I have often held them back before out of childish spite.  It is suffocating in many ways to be around someone so needy.  However, if I lovingly gave of myself, she might not need it so much.  Having needs met, no matter how small they are does induce a sliver of satisfaction, even contentment.

I am going to work very hard at changing my attitude towards my mother.  Today gave me a glimpse into her psyche that I won't soon forget.  More importantly though, it gave me a very hard look at a character defect in myself that I had not seen before.  AND THAT, is something I can work to change. 

I don't know the lady who complimented my mom, but I have to thank her for making my mom's day which made my day so much easier.  I also will probably learn to give more compliments.  Such a small gesture can mean so much to some people.


Cheeseboy said...

I wish you the best of luck with your mom. I know how tricky mom relationships can be.

Hula Girl at Heart said...

Have you read the Love Languages? Perhaps, her love language is words of affirmation.

Words can be so small or few and yet be very powerful. I often have a hard time remembering that...especially with loved ones who try my patience. I know how easily words can hurt me, but I forget how they can hurt..or lift up...others.

I love it when my MIL wears a certain outfit because she always gets told by strangers that she looks good in it. It makes her feel so great when she gets those compliments.