My mother died when I was a teenager. For the last 8 years of her life, it was just me and her. She did everything for me, and I adored her. But I still remember times when I thought I hated her.
I know she did some things wrong. And she could be vindictive, even with me, the one I always figured was her favorite child. There were times when I knew she was petty, and I remember thinking she was being silly over the time she wanted me to devote to her. She was very sensitive about the things I said to her, and she would often cry about or seem to be hurt by some things I said to her. She was a professional giver of the silent treatment.
But even though I remember her being that way, and I remember feeling irritated with her, I can’t remember what the irritation actually felt like. Because since she died, I can’t imagine why I would have ever felt that way about a woman I loved so much. And because I’ve never loved another woman like I loved her, I have never been able to be irritated by any other woman in the same way. As time passed, the irritation lessened and the memories of those feelings grew vaguer.
See, when your mother is gone (and sadly, I know some of you reading will already know this is true), you might not even remember how bad it was. You’ll remember she did bad things, but as time goes on, you tend to shut out the bad stuff and remember the good things. The bad things seem not so bad and maybe even a little silly.
I wish I had a minute with her again, even if it was one of those minutes that she was irritating me for accidentally hitting her and accusing me of doing it on purpose. I wish I could hear her voice again, even if it was the nagging one that told me I didn’t clean the house well enough.
I have a friend whose abusive mother died about 5 years ago. While I would sometimes get annoyed with my mom, I can truly say that she never abused me. But what is most interesting to me is that even though my friend was abused, she defends her mother, brags about her, and tells everyone what a great mother she was.
At times, I think she’s being delusional. But today, Mother’s Day, I realize she really does remember her mom that way. Because once our mothers are gone, no matter what they might have been, we often remember them in the way that makes us feel good about them.
Of course, I don’t think every person who has abusive parents should keep submitting themselves to abuse. But maybe if our moms are just slightly annoying, we can learn to overlook those things and cherish every minute we have with them.
Thinking back on the time with my mom, I realize how different our world was. I always wonder what she’d think about all of these things we have now. How people are telling their moms Happy Mother’s Day on Facebook now for the whole world to see.
She’d probably scoff and say those were private matters that should be handled in person. She’s probably say that if you love someone you don’t have to broadcast it. I remember her being a little naggy about people and the things they did. Even though she did it in the softest, sweetest voice.
And even though I know that if she was still alive, I’d probably be thinking, “Oh, Mom. Hush,” I still wish I had her back to be annoyed with her again. I don’t like knowing I have forgotten some of those feelings I had for her, even if it was a negative emotion. Knowing I don’t remember the feelings means I’ve forgotten some things about our relationship.
So, I’ll do that thing that would’ve made her mad. I’ll tell her publicly how much I miss her, how she was a great mother, and that I love her.
I love you, Momma. I miss you. You were great. Happy Mother’s Day.
I wish she was here to read that. So she could fuss at me.
Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers today.
And if you still have your mom, take a minute to tell her what you want to her to know. Even if she annoys you. You’ll probably forget her naggings someday. But you’ll never forget the times you didn’t tell her you love her.
(“Mother and Son” Image courtesy of Shauntae)