Is that what you're wearing?
Words that still rock me to the core. My mother was never one to mince words or hesitate to make her opinions known. Rarely did I escape the house without commentary on my wardrobe. Personal choice was always subject to Gloria’s interpretation. We had our share of differences and to characterize our relationship as a contest of wills is an understatement... yet after all these years, I find that I am very much my mother’s daughter.
There are countless Gloria stories to tell and I cannot in one post express the profound impact of her passion, compassion, and character but let it suffice to say for this purpose...‘though she be but little, she be fierce’. My mother was a force to be reckoned with and I spent a lifetime perceiving tone, anticipating objection and defending my position. These experiences procured a set of skills that have served me well. But as I sit here missing her more than I could have imagined, it is both the intentional and unintentional teachings that I reflect upon today.
I distinctly recall a day I came home from school, having cried on the playground mortally wounded by the harsh words of another. Expecting consolation for my tears, I received this advice…’ never let them see you cry.’ My mother proceeded to explain that tears give others power over us, if they know they can hurt us, they own us. I was too young to realize how true her words were but we made a deal, a deal that I recognize as an adult she had made with herself many years before, to guard ourselves against such weakness. It became another expectation where I occasionally fell short.
Before anyone jumps to judgment as I often did in dealings with my mother, she was as Miranda Lambert put it ‘from a softer generation where you bite your lip and get a grip just to save a little face’. Only I discovered there is actually strength in maintaining composure and power in not letting the actions of others dictate your own. In time, I learned to admire her stoicism. She was protecting me from what had hurt her only I didn’t see it. As an adult, I came to understand all that she had suffered, endured and survived, and to respect her forbearance and count it as courage. The logic, patience, strength, and faith it takes to keep it together became qualities to which I aspired. They guide me still so if I find myself in personal or professional situations where I can no longer maintain composure, I know it’s a bad place for me to be. This awareness I owe to her. I hear her remind me ‘I raised you better. Gotta keep it together even when you fall apart.’
So where am I going with this? Each and every interaction makes us who we are. Each challenge molds and makes us. The bottomless depths of the soul and psyche are endlessly etched by our daily communication with each other. This gives us power in the lives of others as they have in ours. This provides for infinite opportunities to positively impact others and the world...maybe by our words or just by our example. Be mindful. Be empathetic.
Yesterday was my mother’s birthday and as I arranged flowers in the vase above her grave, I wondered if she would be pleased with the display and pleased to know that I am proud to be my mother’s daughter.