Saturday, May 12, 2007

Lessons Learned

I've been thinking about Mothers. Not necessarily my mother, but women who have been instrumental in my life...surrogate mothers, stand in mothers, mothers for a season. The fact of the matter is, we can learn lessons in the positive or the negative. Most of the lessons I learned from my mom was in the negative. I don't blame her; I've forgiven her long ago. I know she did the best she cold with what she had, but that doesn't mean the wounds aren't still there. As Cassie said on her blog...they aren't scars...they are stories. "I also came up with a new way to identify the hurts in my heart... they're not scars, they're stories. each hurting part of me really does have a story behind it. i never thought of it that way. hmm. things to ponder."

So what stories do I have from growing up? Roots do not come from where we live, but who we live with and what we do with them. We moved around entirely too much for the rest of the family's taste (I loved it till we landed in Bolingbrook), but some things remained the same. We did family dinners. They were often painful (sometimes literally) and humiliating (what passed for humor was emotionally devastating) but they were constant. I love family dinners now... we do them differently, but they are still constant. Sometimes we talk a lot, sometimes it's kinda quiet. Sometimes we do questions from a book that sits on our table. Sometimes we laugh until we cry over the silliest things. But we share a meal...and if we are lucky, two...every day. And when it's just Paul and I, we still sit at the table, a wee little family of two, and do the same thing.

We had responsibilities. We all had to clean on those Sunday's or Saturday's that mom got a bug. It wasn't an option. I had to cook dinner,help with the laundry (and that's where I learned so much about my dad...we frequently did it together at the laundromat). While I didn't really KNOW or LEARN how to keep a house, I got the concept that it was kinda important. Our house was way too chaotic from emotions and clutter. I learned in the vacuum what I didn't want. I learned that I wanted a home, not a dumping ground. I wanted a place that smelled good and echoed with laughter...a place that was peaceful and quiet sometimes and invited the individuals within its walls to grow into who they were created to be, not who I wanted them to be.

I learned that you can disagree with someone mightily and still love them. You can reject their values and lifestyle and choices and still love them. You can be hurt deeply, profoundly, life changingly, and still love them. That's MY choice...and nothing someone else does can take that choice away from me. I choose who to love and who to not love. Love isn't legislated; it isn't demanded. It comes from a well deep within. I learned that hurt people hurt people and that you can't learn to be healthy if you don't want to. It's not an easy journey, but it's one worth the effort.
I learned to respect authority...even when I disagreed. To show respect for the position.

I learned that I can make friends if I try hard enough.
I learned that traditions are only good if they are meaningful. We used to make Christmas cookies every year, but the cookies were not worth the belittling and angry words that were tossed like baseballs at our delicate hearts. I'd rather buy them and do something that everyone wants to do. I'd rather not have them at all then to create those memories for my kids.

I learned that sharing a room isn't the end of the world and having a room for yourself doesn't protect you from all the things you thought it would.

I learned to love education for the sake of learning. I learned that a dream postponed is still a valid dream.

I learned that it's hard to say goodbye...but we all need to learn how to do it.

I learned that prescription drugs and alcohol doesn't numb the pain...just delays it a while.

So what have I learned AS a mother??

I learned how to love unconditionally. From the time Cassie was born, she marched to her own drummer. Sometimes I could hear the beat in the distance, and sometimes I had to let her lead me in the march. But all the while, I have loved her. I have loved her through fear when she was sick and nobody could figure out why. I loved her through frustration, when she would become overstimulated and scream for hours, nothing calming her. I loved her through her dreaming and her tears and her rebellion. She has done things that has hurt me deeply, that I still do not understand. But it does not, for one millisecond, reduce my love for her. Never has, never will.

I've learned to be honest, in the most difficult circumstances. Growing up, I learned to lie. I was going to be blamed anyway, then I might as well do it. But with MY child's face looking at me with those innocent, trusting eyes. OH NO...I wouldn't lie to them. I didn't blab off all the gory details, but I did tell the truth. Even that day in the parking lot when I had to answer, "I don't know" to the question I never thought I'd have to answer that way. I learned that some truths just don't' need to be shared...there is no point and will do nothing but cause more pain. But even now, if the question was asked, I'd have to be honest. I don't EVER wanting my kids looking back and remember that I lied to them. No way. No how.

I've learned to be happy is a simple thing. Live in the moment. Enjoy the dandelions. Put them in a pretty vase...they'll be dead in an hour anyway. Take out the china. Have a tea party. Play with play doh. Read the story again. Go for that walk with your teen instead of doing the dishes. Sit out on the porch and watch the sun come up with a cuppa something. Breathe in those amazing giggles and laughs. Memorize the smirks and twinkly eyes. Tell jokes and laugh at lames ones. Share life. Smile. Hug. Yeah. it's a simple thing.

I've learned to laugh. My children are amazingly articulate and funny people. Cassie has a wit and quick response that makes me chuckle, giggle, smirk, guffaw. That girl gets it. I hope others can learn to appreciate it. From the time she'd tell interminable jokes and stories and announce the ending with "now laugh", to this day, I love her company and her humor. Joseph...well, he has such an amazingly funny take on life, we share a lot of the same thoughts and views on things. He can crack wise and make me laugh right in the middle of disciplining him. Darn it. And I do. I do it back to him when he's taking life too seriously. Besides their goofy kid stories, their silly outfits, Calvin and Hobbes and Garfield being quoted at a constant rate, they are just delightfully humorous, engaging people. I learned I can get out of Dr Seuss books because Paul would read them...woohoo!!

I've learned that wisdom doesn't always come with age. I've learned much at my children's feet and am honored to have been in their classroom. They are just plain smart and it's not all about books either.

I've learned to be strong. Holding a child while they are testing her in horrible ways, and knowing that I couldn't break down, I learned I was stronger than I thought and that strength can and should be combined with compassion. I've learned that battles aren't won in a day and that I, as their mother, needed to be strong for them. But to also allow them to see me cry and know that even when we didn't know how it would end, we knew where our strength would come from. I've learned to be strong enough to let go through my fear and sorrow. To be strong enough to let them grow up in their own strengths...and not demand that their strengths reflect mine. I've learned to be strong enough to let them feel THEIR pain and not need to fix it so they would learn to work through their own issues...and that I'd be here for them in whatever capacity they wanted but savior wasn't one of them.

I've learned encouragement. I taught my kids to trust their instincts, stand their ground and believe in themselves and not to take any crap from anybody. If you're in a situation where someone does not value you or see what a treasure they have in you, get out, leave, move on. Because you deserve better than that. I know other mother's have said that to their kids. But for me, it was not something that I ever EVER heard growing up. I heard "I wish you had never been born" I heard namecalling. I heard verbal tirades. So this is one of the lessons learned that I take the most comfort in. I could and DID break the cycle. My kids KNOW I believe in them and value them for who they are not what they can do. That makes me smile inside. Even when they don't act on that knowledge...they know it.

I learned to have faith in the big picture. To trust what I don't see. From that first night that Cassie slept through the night and I kept sticking my finger under her nose to make sure se was alive, I have had to learn this lesson. The hard way...every time....but learning it still is part of my journey.

I learned I don't need to know everything and I can let my kids see that. It gives them the courage to be real and admit that they don't' either. I've learned that losing sleep over a situation doesn't do anything but make me MORE tired and LESS able to cope.

I've learned that 10 years of the zoo membership and 8 years of the Field Museum builds memories and traditions and we do not need to go back there to relive them. That you can't feed the monkeys at the zoo and that you shouldn't lean against the rock wall at the Field. That some things are overstated but that doesn't make them bad...just a little disappointing.

I've learned that your children never outgrow your hugs...but they definitely DO outgrow your laps (at least mine!!) I've learned that quiet does return and it is still good. I've learned that growing up and moving away doesn't mean leaving your heart, your prayers, your family. I've learned that no matter where my kids live or move or have their being, they will always be my babies but that I need to let them be THEIR adults...and I've learned to let go. Not gracefully. Not completely. Not without tears or sorrow. Just to let go. To let them go out into the world and remind them they always have a place in our home. They brought treasures to our home and it will always be a soft place for them to land.

And I've learned that being a mother isn't just for the child you carry within you. Being a mother isnt always about the children you raise. Sometimes, if we are really blessed, we are given others in our life who need a mother-ish person. Not to replace their mom, but for a day or a season or a long time, to stand in the gap for their mom.

I'm so grateful that God saw fit to me to be a mother. I've never regretted it one day or one millisecond of my life. There is nothing more important in my life than being a good mother. And maybe someday, I will hear back that I have been...I'm kerflempt. I think being a mother is what I was born for...and I'm humbled and honored that God has allowed that for me...


Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness Geriann....
I needed a new box of kleenex for this one. HOW BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!
This just touched my heart in so many ways. I learned so much from this blog and it made me cry both happy and sad tears. THANK YOU SO MUCH for taking the time to place this beautiful & heartfelt message on your blog. It just meant so much to me to read it. I wish my printer had ink...I would print and save this in a heartbeat. It meant that much to me.
What a beautiful thing to read the night before "Mother's Day"
Thank you Ger for the gift of your
meaningful words.

Coffee_Cassie said...

I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always; as long as I'm living, my Mommy you'll be. One more lesson from museum memberships: King Tut's tomb really CAN be that interesting... even for the 27,000th time.