I said goodbye to my mom today after spending the past two and a half days with her. She flew in on Wednesday for a quick visit, her first since we moved into our house two and a half years ago. I always cry when we say goodbye. Always. And this time was no exception. In fact, I cried several times during her visit.
Physical exhaustion may have contributed to my emotional state. I hadn’t slept much the couple of nights prior to her arrival because I was up deep cleaning our house. I really don’t know what I was trying to accomplish by doing that. Hide the fact that I have four children, two dogs, and a husband and my house doesn’t look anywhere close to perfect most of the time? An obvious fact I couldn’t hide if I wanted to. Or hide the fact that I spent most of January paralyzed by depression? Perhaps, except that we had talked about it in conversations we’d had before her visit, something I wouldn’t have done if I were trying to hide it. Or was it to appear “in control” of my life and family instead of in constant chaos most of the time? Anyone close to me can tell you that I am most definitely not in control of things over here. And, besides. She’s no dummy.
The house didn’t look the way I wanted it to – absolutely perfect – because I wasn’t able to complete everything on my list and that personal disappointment (read: failure), too, may have contributed. My grandma used to say to me as we sat on her porch swing together, “For God’s sake, Sis! Quit trying to please your mother and live your own life!” She passed away last June, but I can still hear her voice very clearly in my head. I can’t for the life of me figure out how to do that for myself, though. Live without the pressure of always trying to please my mom. No matter how much I tell myself that she loves me for who I am and she is proud of the person I’ve become I still feel the pressure, even though now it is entirely self-imposed. You know, when you’re a kid, you tend to blame your parents for your dysfunctions and I was no different. I used to blame my mom for this particular dysfunction. When I brought home a “B” on a test, report, or grade card she would ask me why I didn’t get an “A”. So this trip, when I forbid her to go into our bedroom (full of piles of laundry), or in the garage (full of piles of donations I hadn’t delivered yet or had picked up) or the basement (there are no words to describe my basement right now) it was as if I was handing her a grade card with a big fat <gasp> “B” on it.
As you grow older though, you realize that your parents aren’t to blame for all of your problems. That you and only you have control over your own emotions and feelings. So it is with me and my mom. She has done nothing but let me know how proud of me she really is and how much she loves me. Just me. Just the way I am. That kind of unconditional love is forgiveness, to me. It’s like saying to someone, “I forgive all of your shortcomings and love you anyway.” Does she approve of every decision I make? Agree with everything that comes out of my mouth? Support all of my crazy whims? Absolutely not. But I know, without a doubt that her love is unconditional and whether or not I have a messy house doesn’t change that. She forgives all of those little things and loves me anyway. For the entire visit, she very respectfully avoided the basement, the garage, and the master bedroom. Even when I half-offered to show her the master, she seemed disinterested as if trying to relieve the pressure. I appreciate that about her. Thanks mom!
As we sat in the car line on Friday waiting to pick up the twins we shared a tender moment. I started to cry. She reached over, rubbed my back and asked, “Why have you been so emotional this trip?” Now, I could’ve pointed to the very things I’ve described above. But through the exhaustion, disappointment, and huge tears came the most honest, unfiltered answer. “I’m lonely.” There, I said it out loud. Like not saying it out loud made it not true. Seems strange for someone with a husband, four kids, and good friends to be lonely I know. But I am. Lonely for my family. And spending a couple of days with my mom underscored just how much I miss them. We shopped, worked around the house, shared old stories, hung out with the girls, visited my cousin’s family in Lawrence, talked, and laughed….and laughed….and laughed. And by the end of the trip, she had gotten a front row seat to my crazy life and I got a huge helping of much-needed “family”.
So getting around to the title of this post, the letter of the week this past week in Cameron and Quincy’s Pre-K class was “P”. To highlight the letter, their teacher decided to let all the kids wear pajamas to school on Friday. They were so…darn…excited. They would wear their pj’s to school every day if we let them. As soon as they get home from school every day they strip down and don their nighties, a trait I must admit that they get from their mom. Everyone woke up in a great mood Friday morning, which is rare. When I told Cameron that she couldn’t wear her Hannah Montana nightgown – the same nightgown that she had worn all week – the shit hit the fan. She completely melted down complete with tears and screaming. I thought I was going to have to keep her home when she finally came around and put on something that wasn’t icky dirty. But she wasn’t pleased with me. No, she wasn’t pleased at all. I believe that in her anger she even told me that she didn’t like me. “The kids love Hannah Montana mommy!” she cried.
But I charged on with the morning routine, tried to ignore her as best I could and not play into the drama. And feeling the pressure of my mom’s presence. “Will she agree with how I handle this?” I thought. Cameron got all the way out to the car when she realized that she was about to leave without giving me a good-bye kiss and making amends. Cameron and I share a special bond. We named her Cameron Renee and I am Carmen Renee. When she loves me, we both start with a “C” and life is good. But when she hates me, she says “You don’t start with a ‘C’ mommy!” Anyway, she turns around and runs back in to where I’m standing in the doorway to give me a hug and a kiss. I pick her up, hold her tight, tell her I love her and she says in the sweetest little voice, “I forgive you.”
And I wait for the day she will blog about how I am to blame for her dysfunctions.