Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lessons Learned

The mother daughter relationship is a fragile ecosystem.
& many things threaten it's balance.

To say my mother and I had a strained relationship is an understatement.
We had no relationship.
Even as a child, we were like oil and water.
Naturally as the years went by, it only got worse.

After I got married in 2005, we stopped speaking all together.
I could get into all the harried details, but I won't.
Part of moving on is leaving the past in the past.
But long story short we suffered most of the same issues that any mother/daughter relationship faces.
And then some.
An affair, divorce, & abandonment issues all magnified everything ten fold. Honestly, we were a Dr. Phil show just waiting to be produced.
Doomed from the start.

After 4 years of not speaking, my mother called the day after my son was born.
Maybe it was the hormones.
Or all the pain meds I was on.
But that day, without rehashing the past, we wiped the slate clean and decided to start over.

If you had asked me 5 years ago what my mother taught me, I would have said nothing. Or maybe I would have said that I learned from her mistakes. That I would be a better wife. A better mother than she was.
And some of that remains true.
My mother never had any pearls of wisdom for me growing up. We never had heart to hearts. In fact most of what I learned from her was what NOT to do.
The biggest lesson I indirectly learned from my mother:
Don't settle.

See my mom met someone before she married my dad. But for many reasons they couldn't be together. And then she met my dad and they were happy and so they got married. But truthfully, my parents never really had a great relationship. They tried, but most of the time they fought. About everything & anything. My mom yelled all the time, any little thing set her off. As I got older I realized why. My mom was resentful of the life she was living. And she took it out on all of us.
She settled.
And though everything worked out in the end, she spent half her life wondering why she was living a life she wanted more from.

When I was in college I dated a perfectly nice guy right before I met my husband. He was responsible, came from a good family and he loved me. I am almost certain that had we stayed together, marriage was in our future. And when I thought about what our future looked like, it looked fine. It looked stable. It looked safe. The only problem was, I wasn't fireworks and butterfly's in love with him. And I wanted that. I wanted someone who made my heart skip a beat, not someone who just looked good on paper. Not someone I was just settling for.

That epiphany was the catalyst for my life changing. For giving me the courage to break out of what I knew was a sure thing and taking a chance on what turned out to be the greatest thing ever.

And for that I will be forever grateful to my mother.

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