Eight years ago, I had a conversation with my mother. I lived only a few miles down the road from her. We were on the phone. At the time, I was upset about something. (I don’t remember what.) And my mother, bless her, she had tried to comfort me. She had tried her best to love me through words. She had said to me: Heather, don’t worry. You have married such a wonderful man. Take pride in this; it’s your greatest accomplishment.
I remember almost dropping the phone. Greatest accomplishment? I remember I could not find any words to respond to her. I remember the silence. I remember hanging up, shortly after, flinging some excuse.
I wanted to say many things to her. I wanted to, but I didn’t, because, at the time, I was too frustrated and angry.
If I could go back, eight years ago, and have that conversation again, I would say this:
Mom, maybe my greatest accomplishment has nothing to do with finding, or keeping a mate. Maybe it’s a lot simpler than that. Maybe it has, really, more to do with little moments. Little moments of care and generosity and learning. Little moments of opening the heart. Maybe, Mom, it has more to do with stopping to give that cuddle when I’m super busy at that moment but he’s just come home from a bad day. Maybe it’s about being honest about being attracted to other people. Maybe it’s about communicating, even though I’m not in the mood. Maybe, Mom, it has more to do with remembering that ginger chocolate my lover loves but forgot to put on the grocery list. Maybe it’s picking fresh blackberries for him at the park, offering the small handful, later, with a smile. Maybe it’s dreaming my lover’s dream, as if it were my own. Maybe it’s doing the dishes when I don’t want to, or asking “please.” Maybe it’s lending my coat when she is cold. Or making her laugh about that scar. Maybe it’s not about finding or keeping a mate, Mom.
The truth is, friends, maybe I can forgive. Maybe I can see, without judgement, that my mother grew up in a very different world. Maybe I can see the old definitions (people as possessions, husbands as accomplishments) for what they really are: sad last notes that have had their day in the sun but will, soon, be dying.
I can remember my mother’s love. I can remember she gave (and gives) the best she can. I can go easy on her, remembering she is from a generation who, not knowing the value of simply being, chased money and security with astonishing fretfulness—who, in effect, hardened their hearts to real love. …It was the dream of America, wasn’t it? It was the dream of the two-car garage and the till death do us part. It was all that.
It’s true. As this old world grows up, I find myself forgiving more. I find myself loving my mother, in whatever ways I can. I find myself loving the past for all that it was and all that it had to teach us. I find beauty in my ancestors, both living and dead. I find myself in the beautiful Now, singing for a future I can already start to hear, taste, and see. I find myself; I find myself.
Like this post? Try Anya’s Opening Love, a book about the magic of intentional relationships.