Friday, November 1, 2013

Shout-out to my Mama

Those of you who have followed me on my numerous blogs, usernames, and aliases know that my mother and I have a very complex relationship. It's not perfect whatsoever. For the longest time, I thought that it should be, and that if it wasn't then something was wrong. And if something was wrong then it wasn't my fault. Naturally, it would be 100% hers.
Well, growing up as a mother has taught me a number of things.
  • You will never be completely 'worry free' again.
  • Your child will be the death of you with all the chaos, but it is your life and everything. (Imagine having more than one!)
  • You will never know exactly what to do in every situation that will come your way. Good luck.
In addition to being a mother, taking a wonderful required class called Life Span Growth & Development has also taught me a few things.
  • Every single thing you do affects your child.
  • Every single negative thing you do will negatively affect your child.
  • Every single most of the positive things you will do will be with the intent to raise your child in safety, with nurturing, and with strict discipline, and yet they will see it negatively.
  • Your child will end up in a psych ward because you will never be perfect. Good luck.
In addition to both of these, attending a group counseling session every week as often as I make it has also taught me a bit. This was probably the most important pieces of information that I've had, despite being the actual mother and attending a class about development of children. These important pieces have helped me a lot with my relationship with my mother.
  • You will never be perfect as a mother or a child. Caring for your child is what you really need to be a good mom. 
  • Every thing you do will affect your child, but don't stress about this because as long as you are trying you are being a good mom.
  • You are not the only person in the world who has trouble getting along with your mother. She is still a good mom.
  • You are not the only child in the world who has grown up making multiple mistakes in your life that make you think your mom hates you. You are still a good child, and she is still your mom. More importantly, she still loves you.
  • Your mother is not perfect. She never will be. She is still a good mom.
  • Every single mother-to-daughter relationship is different. Embrace it.
My mom and I do not get along well in long doses. For the longest time, I thought this was a bad thing. I also thought my mother hated me, and that I would always be angry with her. I expected her to be perfect, and in some cases, she expected me to do what I knew better than to do, and I disappointed her. She is set in her ways. I am hell-bent set in mine. So, needless to repeat, she and I do not get along well in long doses.
But the cool thing is that now, we don't see each other in long doses. When we do see each other, we don't bother with the past. You see, the cool thing about people that I learned in psychology is that there is evidence that people can change. I am not using this in the text of, 'my mom is soooo THIS and someday she'll change in to THAT'. I am saying that, all my life, I have expected perfection of her and if she didn't give it to me, I made sure to record it in my mind's handbook of Every Fault My Mother Has Ever Placed Upon Me.   I store it next to the Things That I Now Do That My Mother Does or Did, But I Am Not Bad For Them Like She Was  file.
No, I mean I have finally learned that can change. I can't change my mother. That's all her, but I've finally learned that I can change and be much more deserving of her love than I've been in the past. Does she have faults? Yes. But we are human, and God's children. Jesus didn't die on the cross for perfect people. He died on the cross for the sinners like my mother and I, and he doesn't condemn us. Why should we condemn each other? Why shouldn't I forgive my mom, if Jesus does?
So, in a fit of I Am So Mad It's Not My Mom's Fault All Along, I decided that I wasn't going to talk to her for a while. By this, I mean, sure on facebook I'll post and if she texts me, I"ll respond, but I was not actually going to call her myself. You see, my mother is a very important and busy person nowadays. She's just graduated from college and is now a teacher at her first real teaching job and is really being tested on her stamina. She's done fantastic at sticking it through, except that that now means that those who are not in her direct household any more kind of don't get any quality time any longer. I truly don't know how she sleeps with how busy she is, or how she keeps up with my two little sisters. I really don't.
But you see, I had decided that my mom's scarce presence was a direct insult to me. How dare she not call me every once in a while and ask me how I'm doing? How dare she be busy with her own life and household that is still living with her? (You see, I'm the oldest of 5.)  I get in to these moods every once in a while where I feel self-righteous and I send long messages to people because over the years, I've lost my ability to speak to people one vs one and actually get some conversation going without looking like an idiot, being interrupted, or being misinterpreted because I don't have time to think on my words prior to speaking them. With my mother, this was always the case. We both enjoy the last word. We are both Irish women, and yellers. Guess what one Irish Woman + another Irish Woman = ? You see how our relationship is a complex one?
So, anyhow, I sent this long message to my mother (I've sent plenty to her, as I said I have a habit to do, but this one was targeted on her lack of time for me and my family (husband+son)). In a nutshell, I told her she wasn't focusing on ME enough and I decided right then that I wasn't going to call her anymore. I was going to let her do the calling! That'll teach her!
So, in a really weird month that just passed, I rarely talked to my mom. Very few posts in facebook, and very infrequent text messages. It was very odd, and very quiet, but it was also needed. I found and accepted Christ again. All my life, I had tried, but my mom and immediate family were never big in religion, so it never stuck and I struggled a lot with believing in a God. This time, I'm an adult, and I can make my own choice to do so without peer pressure being the reason I 'signed up'. This time, I am trying every day to talk to him, or if I don't talk to him, open my heart to see if he's trying to talk to me. I'm going to a group every friday sometimes. I also now have a counselor I see every Tuesday and Thursday. Oh, and Sunday sometimes, I go to church at this place that isn't a total bummer and I really feel like I'm safe from judgment.  Also, I have changed my primary radio station to 101.7 (Air One ministry/Christian station) or podcasts in which I listen to Andy Stanley all the time.
So, while listening to this radio station, the lyrics of these songs, the praises of people who sound just like me... I don't feel alone any more. In my group counseling, I realize that no one is perfect, and that my mom and I are certainly not the worst people in the world, and there is hope for us.
And the first step is not for me to blame my mother. The first step is not for me to change her, or decide she needs to change. The first step is for me to forgive her. I need to forgive her of what I didn't like about my childhood. I need to forgive her about what I saw from my point of view of her. I need to forgive that she is a working woman now and doesn't have time to call me every day like I'm an only child. Instead of losing a few kids out of her house, she's adopted 30+ more each class a day!
I need to stop and think about why I'm mad at her. I need to decide if it's worth it to be mad at her, and if being mad at her changes anything.
It doesn't. I need to forgive her, and truly move on. I thought I'd forgiven her three years ago, but I found out that I hadn't forgiven some things. I'd picked and chosen what I was willing to forgive her for. God doesn't pick and choose with me, and if I am to aim to be like Jesus, then I need to also not condemn or pick and choose my forgiveness.
I love my mom. She's my Mama. I only have to share her with four others (thank GOD), but she will always be my Mama first. (Nener nener, Caitlin, Chris, Melody, & Geraden.)
Now, that I've given you a glimpse at my history with my mother, and the problems I am trying to work on, let me tell you what happened to day. Let me tell you why my mom deserves a shout out that is prefaced with a history that will truly show you how big of a deal this moment really was.
My mom called me today. This doesn't happen often any more, as I told you, I kind of cut off myself from talking to her for a while so I could get my shit together. So, she called me out of the blue to tell me some important news that was bigger than a text message could imply. My youngest brother Geraden has officially signed his papers and is shipping off to the Nation Guard boot camp in January. Wow. What big news. I asked her how Tim (my other father/her husband) felt about it, and she said they were happier that it was the National Guard and that he wouldn't be gone so long, hopefully. I said, "That's cool. Thank you for telling me. I'm proud." and prepared to hang up because of reasons.
But she kept on the phone with me. I don't even remember the small talk we had that lead in to talking about college, but I eventually led in to, "Oh, by the way I changed my major."
"You did?"
"Yeah. I changed it from Nursing to English. Even though I'm not getting a lot of support in my decision (because everyone who seems to know everything keeps saying it's a worthless degree), I read a blog article that basically said that majoring in something you're interested in will get you to keep up the whole 4 years to graduate, and that degree is a huge stepping stone in to getting all kinds of jobs, no matter the degree. Also, I don't mind becoming an English teacher, even if what I'd really like to do is be an author."
She said a few things that I expected like, "Oh cool," and stuff, and I went on to say that this change was making it very hard to focus and give a damn about my current classes that were strictly for Nursing, and then she said something that blew my mind out of the water.
"I don't know if I'll ever be an author, but I'd really like to be. I really want to try." I told her.
"I have to let you go because I just got home, but do something for me. Go look up the biography of the author of the Divergent trilogy. I love you! Bye!"
I have never read Divergent, or it's other books. I hadn't even known it was becoming a movie. I hadn't even heard of this author, but it was such an odd request, I did it anyway.
So, this author's name is Veronica Roth. Growing up, she also was not religious until she took it upon herself. Her parents were also divorced. She also has multiple siblings. I have feelings that she has also probably had growing up with these similarities, and yet here she is, some hot shot author of a trilogy that is being made in to movies. She's a growing Christian. She's making it happen and it came to her in college. She also has a blog she actively writes in here.
I am crying. It's not a big deal because I cry a lot and at everything, but I am deeply moved by this. My mother telling me to look at this author's bio tells me a lot of things, but the two main points I got were:
  • "She did it. So can you. I believe in you."
  • My mother pays a lot more attention to me, my life, and how I feel about things than I realize or ever give her credit for.
Mom and Me - Wedding
Excuse my language, but I don't fucking need anyone else's opinion or support, because after a long battle with her and myself, I realize I have the only support I need and ever wanted - and I've had it all along. Words cannot express this feeling I have inside.
So, shout out to my Mama, because not only have I struggled, she's seen every piece of it, and struggled too, and yet she can still pull out things like this and speak to me on my own playing field to get my attention and tell me that she's there to back me up.
This is also what God has been doing lately, getting on my own playing field to speak to me. So, in a way, I think today Mom was pretty godly.
Thank you, Mom.
Thank you, God.
Atkeisson N.
(P.S. Congratulations Geraden. I am so proud of you.)

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