“When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.”
Mom likes me.
Her mind has accepted me as her sister or her friend or the nice lady that comes to visit and holds her hand.
When I was younger, prior to the care of mom and dad as they lost their independence, mom had a critical side. She always felt the need to tell others what was wrong, rather than what was right and positive, including her daughter.
Your dress is too short.
When are you going to get those dog hairs cut?
Why don’t you have children?
Your father and I are so disappointed that you don’t have children.
That last comment stung for a long time. Mom was not a cheerleader and she expected life, friends and family to fit in the perfect bubble she imagined. I heard her speak the same language to dad and about others. On occasion, dad would ask her, “Why do you have to be so critical?”
I never figured out what made her that way. Was it due to growing up in a family of 15? Did her mother or father speak to her the same way? Was she simply a “glass half empty” kind of person, always forgetting the positives in her life?
I will never know.
Once I decided to let go of the “disappointed” comment, our relationship seemed to improve. When Saturday shopping adventures with mom and dad and duties as their POA began, mom stopped making negative comments to me. When I announced I was filing for divorce, mom cheered me on. (She asked me a month into separation if I was dating. I thought that so funny, but I believe she simply wanted me to be loved and happy.)
I am not now and was never perfect, but mom finally decided that I didn’t need to be. Perfect no longer mattered. In her eyes, the positive scale finally outweighed the negative.
Since mom’s dementia took a downturn last May and she turned 97 in August, there have been many days when I ask God, “Why are You keeping her here? She can hardly hear, hardly speak, and her mind is a scramble of past and present. What’s Your purpose for her?”
I never get an answer, although I have an inkling what this is about.
Mom and I have a wonderful relationship, even though she doesn’t know who I am. There’s no criticism, no expectation of perfect, because I’m no longer that person to her. Whoever I am, she likes and accepts the Mary before her. We talk, we hold hands, I push her around in her wheel chair, she says something nonsensical and I laugh. Then she laughs. When mom talks of “going home,” I tell her, “One day soon.” When mom talks about people and events that are unfamiliar to me, I nod and smile. When I ask mom what she had for lunch, she replies, “I don’t remember,” but then goes on to tell me about her own mother’s cooking. I agree with mom when she tells me the Christmas tree is black and her younger brothers were just there to visit. We have crazy conversations and, yet, they always soften my heart and speak of love.
During the days of hurt, I didn’t want to talk to mom. Now, I miss her severely if I don’t see her every weekend.
Relationship doesn’t always come easy, but mom and I have left perfect behind and we like…nay love each other in ways I never expected.
This post has been brought to you by my mother, imperfect relationships and Linda G. Hill’s One-Liner Wednesday. Click HERE to see additional one-liners in the comment section. Feel free to play along by posting your own one-liner and linking your post to Linda’s.