Age does that to you, ya know. Marriage teaches you the dynamics of relationships and gives you tremendous insight into your parent's marriage. Things that didn't make sense when you were a child suddenly become understandable when you remember them through the context of your own marriage.
The same happens with parenthood. It's hard to see certain things when you are a child but when you grow up and have your own children, it all makes sense. It's like that old quote by Mark Twain: "When I was fourteen my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished by how much he'd learned in seven years."
I'm finally realizing how much my parents had to offer, how much wisdom they carried and how incredibly and mercifully patient they were with me. I'm understanding the choices my mom made, some of them heartbreaking. I'm seeing the pain she endured and I have such a growing respect for her. I wish I could call her and say, "remember that time I..., well...I was a real jackass. I understand your side of things now and I'm very sorry. I finally get it." I think that would have taken our relationship to an amazing level.
I should have been more understanding and loyal to her. I should have simply trusted that she loved me unconditionally and was always doing things in my best interest. But I didn't. Because it was so much easier to fight her for control, to be right.
When I had my first baby, she came to help me out. She was over-the-moon excited about being a grandma and wanted to help in every way possible. I was a new,
BAM. It hit me right between the eyes. There it was, exactly what I did to my own mom, except I was on the other side and it sucked. I wanted so badly to call her and tell her what had happened and I even felt guilty enough that I would have given anything to hear her say "I told you so!!".
This happens to me all the time, presumably because I'm getting old and wise enough to wrap my thick skull around certain things. Age has a way of doing that.
The most recent thing is a memory I had of my mother making a pilgrimage to the Basilica of Our Lady Of Guadalupe. You see, she had been battling cancer the year before and had prayed and pleaded for healing so that she could see me grow up and be secure. I was her only child and she didn't have anyone to care for me if she died. So she did battle and claim a victory over cancer and once she felt well, we went to Mexico City where she crawled on her hands and knees along the cobblestone in front of the church, through the entrance and down the aisle to the altar where she prayed for what seemed like forever. She prayed in thanks to God for giving her a second chance at life and vowed to devote her life to others.
She did just that, giving more of herself than seemed possible. And did I feel thankful for her winning the battle and for her sacrifice? Did I respect that she kept her end of the bargain? Did I admire her for loving me so much? Nope. In fact, I was resentful. I begruged her doing so much for others and saw it as her excuse to spend less time with me. Oh boy, I'm embarassed to even write those words because it's hard to admit that you are a selfish brat.
She never defended herself. She never threw her hands up in frustration and say, "you ungrateful little piss ant, don't you see that I did and am doing everything for you. I'm sacrificing and taking on burdens so that you can know me and not be without me? Don't you see how much I love you? Don't you see that I have given up myself for the betterment of you?" I have no idea why she never said those things. Mostly because I was too busy feeling sorry for myself and picking fights with her to notice. Now, my mom was far from perfect. She could be unreasonable and difficult...like mother like daughter. But when it comes to this, she was totally in the right. I just never saw it that way.
I'm just now understanding what she did, what she accomplished and how much she loved me. I wish I would have embraced that love while she was still here. I wish I could have seen past everything long enough to see the love in her eyes and for once, be engulfed by it.
That's just part of my personality, you see...to be difficult. I have a hard time being humble, of feeling vulnerable and needy. But I have learned my lesson. I've learned to be softer and vulnerable to my husband and my friends, to readily accept advice and help. And the hard one? To accept this from God. Because there is a parallel between my relationship with my mother and my relationship with my heavenly father. I'm defiant and difficult and selfish and can't stop thinking about myself or complaining long enough to recognize that so much has been sacrificed for me and how much I am truly loved. There is still so much I don't understand but I'm hoping that age and wisdom will bring me closer to that understanding. For now I must do for my family and God what I was never able to do for my mother: to simply trust that they love me and do everything for my own best interest.