I had a unique opportunity to live with my mom. Obviously, majority of us had lived with their mothers, but my opportunity presented itself at 38. With my family (husband and two sons or as I sometimes say ‘my three kids’), we moved to live with my parents. You may speculate why do I share this perceived failure? I agree with you. Moving back with your parents is a win only under special circumstances. Now bear with me while I explain why it also could be a priceless life lesson.
First, let me put your mind at peace. The events around my move didn’t relate to some dramatic failure in my life. Frankly, I don’t think such a situation exists. We go down and we get up and we (should) learn something in the process. We moved to my parents because I was recovering from a serious illness and it became absolutely unmanageable for my mother to commute four hours on a train to help us with the childcare and household. You must admit that’s a pretty good excuse to return to my childhood home. It was temporary, of course. A planned three months stretched to a year and a half (but that is a different story).
Don’t take me wrong, we did overstate the hospitality and were glad to move out to our own home.
However, I am really fortunate to have shared a household with my mother for an extended period at the time when I had my own experiences under the belt (read: old). I hear you! You go visit your parents and twenty-four hours later you are glad you’re leaving. Christmas or not. I can relate. I’ve been there myself. However, if there was no expiration date on your visit, you may try harder to enjoy your stay (nowhere to escape). Mindfully, or subconsciously, I observed the dynamics of our relationship and I discovered things about myself, my beliefs and perceptions I would have never contemplated.
Who is my mother?
“I couldn’t cry. Never. I wish I could just have bawled to deal with frustrations and disappointment,” she said, her gaze focused at nothing in particular. Her words shrinking her a bit, yet somehow making her stronger than ever.
My mom is the toughest woman, well person, I’ve known. I’ve always admired her focus, determination and an overall ‘let’s get things done’ attitude. It’s true, I’ve never seen her crying. Not at her mother’s funeral. Not during the tough times when my dad dealt with an addiction. Never. She has always been a tree that bends a little during a storm, but keeps standing tall and strong.
Her confession remains one of the most intimate moments we’ve ever shared. She opened up to me, acknowledged her vulnerability. Left me speechless. The woman who never cried admitted that what I perceived as strength, she carried like a heavy burden.
Who is a better mother?
Under one roof with my mom, faced with my mom’s expectations, I daily scrutinized my parenting style. Observing my mom disciplining my children (not just spoiling them as she normally would during a short-term visit) allowed me to examine and further understand who am I as a mother.
I don’t always agree with her. For example, her ‘don’t leave the table until the plate is empty’ rule stems from her generation’s experience of scarcity. My generation, on the other hand, popularized (unfortunately) eating disorders, so I don’t subscribe to this particular rule. I get her point. She doesn’t get mine. But we learnt to respect our own rules. And interestingly, the kids did too. They differentiate our expectations and adjust.
For me, the lesson is priceless. Reflecting upon our common behaviors and our differences, helped me gained insight into the kind of mother I prefer to be and why. And that, I’m telling you, was a crush course compared to many years (or children) figuring it out.
Who am I?
I’m not suggesting you move with your folks to better understand yourself or them, but I expect the sooner we ask our parents certain questions (as adults), the faster we grow up😊. This year, I found a courage to ask my mom what regrets she has in her life. I would have never asked if it wasn’t for one of Deepak Chopra’s challenges. I’m happy I did.
I love traveling. And do you know what is my mom’s biggest regret? That she hasn’t traveled more. That she allowed my dad to stop her because he wasn’t interested. She said it took her too long to have her own adventures. Luckily, she started in her sixties and caught up for all the lost time. But I wonder where is my nomadic nature coming from? Maybe I’m catching up for her as well.
Her initial, intuitive answer to my question was a gem. She said there is no point dwelling on things she can’t change anymore. And that, my friends, is a legacy I’m happy to carry on.
Please, ask your moms what they regret. Or why they do things a certain way. Explore wisdom that we may miss if we don’t ask.
P.S. If you enjoyed this post, leave a comment. I’d like to hear about your relationship with your mom (warning—it might inspire a character in my book😊.
More of my musings on topics connecting us women are here.