Saturday, December 10, 2011
Mama's...The Big Mystery
Part of us wants to say, wants you to know, that one day, you will be us. You will be the one left standing. Alone. Watching the fun and laughter from afar. Because someone else will be too busy for you. Life will move on and you will be left to watch the film clips and look at leftover memory pictures. But we won't say that to you, because we know how bad it hurts. And we want to believe you're not doing it on purpose or intentionally. We want to believe you're having so much fun, you don't even realize what you're doing when you hurt us. So we would never intentionally hurt you back.
Empty nest is hard. It's horrible. It is relentlessly sorrowful. Half of an empty nest really doesn't feel much different. All children are different. Rarely are any two the same. It is no different in my house. My hugger, my confidant, my homebody, my friend, and my oldest son is gone. He's grown, living on his own and he's gone. My fist pump for goodnight, my rarely likes to talk seriously, my "it's implied" youngest son is still here, but not so you would notice some days. He stays in the road and with friends.
I talk to other mothers who are feeling the same things. I talk to them about it, because I can see it in them. They're having a hard time adjusting to the change. I've had a few years to adjust to my Joshua being gone. So I recognize it very quickly when I see it in others. The first year was horrendous. I don't mind telling you I can't count high enough to tell you how many tears I may have cried. How many days my family would sit here and look at me like I had three heads on my shoulders instead of just one. How many times their short, and dismissive words would cut me to the bone. Was I the only one hurting and lonely? Surely not.
I know now, looking back, that I drove Zach crazy that first year. Drove him further away. I was grasping and latching onto him so hard, trying to survive the struggle, I think maybe I was smothering him. He already was not up for all that closeness, and he has always lacked in the condolence department. Well, I will say with everyone but me, he seems able to see the pain. And I guess I can say good graces for that. And Mims, he's not much different. That, and I just don't think most men react the same way to the empty nest. Some, maybe. But not most. Not by a long shot. Or maybe, they just carry it differently. I'm just not sure.
But I'm alright now. I've adjusted to it pretty well most days. I still have my moments. When my needs for what I had are not filled and I sink back into that well of darkness. But most days, I can find something to pull myself back out. I found something I can use. It works most every time.
My parents are a very young seventy and seventy one years old. But in the last couple of years their mind sets have changed. They are often exceptionally emotional. Worried and fretting about the things they won't get to see, won't be able to experience instead of enjoying what is happening right here, right now. So whenever I feel myself sinking into that pit of darkness, I insist that that mind go there, to them, and I try and snap out if it.
If any of you teenagers are reading this, please think about your parents. What you say, how you say it. Give them a little more of your time. Take the time to act like you're listening. Take the time to notice when someone besides yourself is having a bad day. Needs a pick up. Needs a hug. Take the time to notice the Mama who is ALWAYS there for you. Making sure your every want and need is taken care of, many times, before you even realize you have a want or need. Pay attention to her expression, and notice the change on her face when your words are too sharp or impatiently said.
Invite her to the movies. You're so busy looking at her as a Mom, try looking at her as a teenager. Go back and look at some of her pictures from high school. Surprise. She was YOU! She laughed and giggled uncontrollably, she cried tears over boys, she had a first love in the sixth grade, and she had best friends. Some of whom she is still friends with and some, she has no idea where they are today. She would love to go to the movies with you. Or you and your pals. You'd be surprised what she still finds funny.
Invite her into your bedroom. Ask her opinion about an outfit. Tell her about your day. About something funny that happened in class. About someone that made you mad. About ANYTHING. Make her feel included. It matters.
Ask her about HER day. How was work? And if she drones on and on about something that happened, and you have no idea what she's talking about, just listen. Patiently. Heck, here's a novel idea, ASK HER! Ask questions. Why should she be the only one interested in you? After all, the job she does every single day has paid for your whole life. Has made your whole life and everything in it, so much easier than it could have been. So much more fun and enjoyable. Ask her. Take an interest in what and who makes your life as great as it is. She knows what your favorite meal is and somehow, always knows when you'd like to eat it. Do you know what hers is? What in the world would happen if you thought about that, and cooked for her?
She has given you everything on this earth that you ever wanted or needed, can't you give her a little of yourself back? That's all she wants. Just some of you. Share some of you. Boyfriends and girlfriends will come and go. And unfortunately, so will many of the girls/boys who you think will be there no matter what. Your Mama and Daddy will always be there no matter what, THAT I can guarantee.
These are the years that will transform your relationship again. And, believe it or not, it won't be the last time. But these are important times. Important years. You can still be her daughter/son, but you can also work towards being her friend. Because I promise you, you're going to need her as your friend. For many more days to come. You're going to wish you had tried harder, listened closer, and loved harder.
A few weeks ago, I had a spend the night party with my own Mother. First time I had shared a bed with her since I was in my teens. As we laid there in the dark, and talked about whatever came to pass, I couldn't tell whose voice sounded younger. Hers or mine. In the dark, for that brief period between awake and asleep, we were the same. I woke up the next day loving my Mama even more than I thought I had more room for...and wishing times like that had happened more often.
I probably repeated myself a little today. I tried not to do that. But when I see in others, what I knew happened within myself, I just have to say something. I'm a fixer from way back. And while I can't fix everything and everybody, I can help. I can talk. And I can listen. And, I only wrote this from a Mother's point of view, because that's all I know. So, love your Mama, she's the only one you have and you can't bring back time. No matter how hard you try. We know, we've already been in your shoes, did all that you're doing, and we couldn't get it back. Be smarter than us, and try now.