“Yes, Mother. I can see you are flawed. You have not hidden it. That is your greatest gift to me.” Alice walker
Growing up my mother was everything... For the first couple years she was more than just my mom, she was my stability in a rocky world, she was a healer, a dad, a friend, a teacher... She was perfection. I never saw flaws in her until she started pointing them out in the mirror... I couldn't understand why she would put down her body the way she did. When all I saw was beauty, security... I saw an amazing woman who cared for me... The things she would say about her body I could not comprehend.
I remember, at a young age, wanting to give her the lens I saw her through. This lens that said those things don't matter... You matter... Over the years we have had many conversations about those moments. I tried to explain to her how much I loved her and how hard it was to hear her tear down the woman I admired. It's been a process... A process of purging the negativity we have learned to feel towards our imperfections, embracing these messy lives we live... We have been through so much... And as we continue to heal and grow into the women we want to model for my children, my mother has taught me how much greatness comes from brokenness, how much light can be shed on the darkest of times, the power in being vulnerable in such a wild, unpredictable world... the ability to feel the pain as well as the joy that grows from those places.
She was there for my best moments, and those memories are memories I cherish. But the moments I cling to the most are the ones when I cannot carry my burdens anymore and she joins me in journey, those moments when I need to be reminded that even in the depression, the eating disorder when all I see is a life of hurting others... that I am worthy, she has loved me at my worst and because of that I can believe her when she celebrates my best. What my mom continues to teach me, and what I hope to pass on is not the lesson of perfection but a lesson of vulnerability and humility.
Portraying being beautifully flawed....
My first memory of my mom was at age 3. She was glued to our black and white television in the front room weeping over the assassination of John F. Kennedy. I couldn’t understand what I was witnessing… the death of a president and the deep sorrow of losses that my mother carried with her. She lost her mom and brother long before she should have and I was with her when she received the news that her dad had died. I rarely saw her cry and only occasionally would get glimpses of her struggles. (Although I do remember her throwing a dishtowel at my dad once for spending too much time on the “19th hole”.) On those rare occasions however I felt deeply connected to her, like she was teaching me something I was yet to comprehend. In some ways it terrified me… to see her so vulnerable. But those moments were so rare that it wasn’t until I was much older that I could even recall them. And when her husband of 55 years died I witnessed not only an unveiling of all that she carried with her but I heard her heart shatter… to pieces.
What once terrified me now graced me as she allowed a lifetime of raw emotions to flow. That grace nearly drowned me… and when the waters receded, I understood what seemed such a mystery to me. My mom was more ... much more, and she knew instinctively when I would be ready for that news. I was 42 when I began to see my mom outside of her “mom-ness”. I would only have another 3 ½ years left with her but she somehow made them a lifetime for me. I guess that’s what moms do… they teach you, love you, and hold you forever, in the most beautifully flawed way.
I hope I’ve not hidden such beauty from my daughters.