Relationships and Decisions and Choices

Over the last few days, it seems the theme around me has been relationships. Within conversation, one friend was processing some sadness about her former partner while another, her present one. Both turned to me for advice:  “How do you know when the person you are with is the right one for you?” “How do you know when he’s wrong and the time has come to move on?“How do you stand the feelings while you figure it all out?”

First, let me say that I am by no means an expert on relationships! However, because my peeps and I seek one another out for solution, I was compelled to give the best answer I could in both situations, “It’s not that simple. What I have learned from experience is that you know simply because you decide to and then you work within and towards that decision every day.”

 

My friends’ questions provoked powerful emotions within me, mostly ones of gratitude but also of sorrow and regret. They prompted a hope that once they make their choice they will know that whatever unfolds from that point on, will be right and true and good because that is who they are inside and because they will decide to work at making it so.

All my life, I stood in terror of making decisions. I was afraid to go right and find out later that left had been the way for me. Because of this, I lived always positioned for a move, ready to turn, as if waiting for a tennis shot; poised for either a forehand or back, but never too firmly planted on my feet; just ready, always ready. With this type of stance, it was difficult for any relationship to seed, take root, grow strong and flourish. The garden that was my life was one filled with annuals, never perennials, and I could not understand why flowers were not re-blooming year after year. Instead of planting new ones, knowing that the former’s gift had come and gone, I thought I must have picked the wrong patch of earth. Sure, I watered sometimes, but there was so much more critical work required. There were weeds to pull, soil to turn over and fertilizer to spread. Because I thought once I planted, pretty colors would be forevermore, when things went bare and brown I panicked. I did not understand.

Today, I can only wonder at how it was I believed I should always know, know Who and What and Where and When. How I thought I should be sure and certain in whatever I picked or chose. I wonder how it was that I so naively thought we all were supposed to find our custom designs out there, so easily, so surely. Did I think there were memos to help or sky-written messages from above to guide the way? Did I remain so afraid in my decisions, because I never got those memos, those messages? Was it because I felt abandoned somewhere, by what or whom I am not sure, but forgotten and left to pick my way through life on my own? It is laughable today, but laughable in the most gentle sort of way, to think about how terrified I was of getting it all wrong; the big IT of life; the guy I should be with, the career path to travel, the neighborhood to live in and the bestie to trust.

This morning, I have decided to smile with gentle kindness at all of it, appreciate the similarities between all of us fellow travelers and pass along what I have learned. I have opted to use the feelings stirred up from relationship conversations this week and remember to reach upward towards the blessed prayer of St. Francis of Assisi and its words that will guide me for the future. I choose today to head in the direction before me and to believe that help will come as I go, not in memo form, but in daily dialogue with God and His Angels.

Right here, right now, I choose to be one of the brave and decisive ones as I step out, one of the courageous ones, one unafraid to choose left with both feet on the ground or go right with everything I have inside of me. I commit to a willingness to make today’s choices gracefully and while doing so, believe that whatever they are will be good and true; because no matter what unfolds, the gifts will come in the lessons therein.

The most important choice I will make today will be once again to believe with all my heart, with absolute certainty that there is no right way and no wrong, but ever so perfectly, there is simply the way I will choose.

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~ Mothers Day ~

momToday is Mothers Day. The day where we honor those heroines who get things done behind the scenes that we don’t even know need to get done. The ones who are the heart and soul of the family, who keep it all keeping on. We honor those who are what I always dreamed I might someday be.

The emotion sharers, the cookie bakers, the pb and j sandwich makers and the decorators.
The huggers, cheerleaders, car pool drivers and laundry washers, dryers and folders. The ones who teach us that it is OK to cry. And the ones, sometimes, who make us cry. A mom.

I am one of them. A Mom and all that being one entails. That is what I am. That is what I have always wanted to be. I am a Mother.

Even as I type the word Mom and own it, I get choked up. Mom, the person who bandages a scraped knee, the one who covers for you with dad, who lets you lick the mixing bowl after the cake is in the oven. The one who sometimes lets you stay home from school, even though she knows you aren’t really sick, but just need a day at home. Who buys you Aladdin comic books and 7UP and makes you tea and toast sometimes. Who somehow has enough food on the table no matter how many surprise guests your brothers have brought home unannounced for dinner. The one that all your friends thought was so cool but the one you sometimes wished was someone else.

The unmerited gift of being a mom brings with it a myriad of emotions. It offers the most beautiful, the most precious moments in life and yet, for me, also the most excruciating feelings of “if only” and “what if” and back then questions of “why didn’t she” and yes, later as a mom myself, “why didn’t I.”

As for “why didn’t she,” please don’t get me wrong. I absolutely know that my mother loved and honored me, cherished even. She was proud of me and she valued me, but the reality is that at times she didn’t know quite what to make of me. I think she may have even been somewhat afraid of me, of how I told it like it was, of how I questioned the unquestionable, of how I insisted on feeling what I felt in spite of her asking me to “stop the nonsense.”

What I know today is that I wouldn’t have traded my mom for anything, that she did the absolute loving best that she could with every fiber of her being. That caring for all of us could not have been easy, especially as she sometimes admitted, us girls. And that dealing with my dad’s patriarchal unavailability definitely had to make it harder. I also know that she even understood that unavailability as surrender to the pressures of corporate America the way I also understand it today.

And that awakening, the ownership of all that she was and all that she longed to be for me, for us, is a gift that is beyond any other that I could ever receive for Mothers day. The level of awareness that I was, to her, a beautiful, spirited daughter for whom she wanted only the best of the best of the best brings me to peace, to joy, to bliss. It also brings me to a moment where I look upwards towards the heavens and pray that she knows. And the answer comes, she does.

And now a moment after this beautiful loving moment, my thoughts on motherhood go beyond that of my mom, and come back to my own role as mother to my son, and to wondering whether he also knows. They go to the mother that I am, have been, and hope to be going forward. They go to “why didn’t I” and the emotions, the love, well up inside of me with a life of their own and a wonder if my heart will burst from gratitude along with whether it will collapse with “does he really know?” “Know how very much I love him.” Does he know that today and always all I have ever wanted for him has been the best of the best of the best?

Does he know that he has been my reason? My purpose? The purpose I sometimes needed back then and sometimes still need today, though I hate to admit it. The motivation for being better, for trying harder, for letting go and holding on and for learning how to truly love. For trying to do what was best for someone else in making a choice back then in the midst of fear that it may take me down. For the attempts to be available today whole heartedly, having learned along the way that it is what matters more than anything. To be there for him as a mom.

Does he know that I felt blessed because he was so easy from the get-go, that he slept through the night at 6 weeks old (unheard of among my friends with their children) and was absolutely a gem. That from his first breath he has been beautiful, smart, funny, tough yet sensitive and silly. That he is now and always has been perfect in my eyes, and in Gods’. How he made me laugh when he’d tell me he was “being have” when asked to “behave.” That he was so very happy and how proud I was that he never, ever excluded any friends when there were 3 or more in the equation. That he was my very bestest pal who I took everywhere, did everything with.

Does he know that when divorce happened I questioned all of it. How to be a mom apart from wife? Does he know that the grownups were simply trying to do what they thought was best while also simply trying to survive the end of a dream? Does he know that for me, while focusing on that survival I simply couldn’t see that he was wondering how he was going to do so also. To survive. I just didn’t know it. I felt so broken. So ashamed that I couldn’t figure out a way to be OK, to be enough in marriage. I felt less than as a mom and wondered if I still really was one without the role of matriarch.

Of course I know today that I am Mom, always have been and always will be. I also know that if I had known that I could have done some of it differently I would have. Much the same way I believe many moms feel in retrospect.

And after having sat with my son many times over recent years and talking about our life I see clearly. I see the pain, the disappointments, the love, the accomplishments, the mistakes, the joys, the heartache, the memories, the successes, wishes and doubts. I see all of it and I share with him what I have learned. That realization that yes, I would have done some things differently if only I’d known, and we both decide that it is more than OK.

I share with him that today I honor his feelings. I honor that he must have struggled and felt that I had let him down sometimes, the way I had felt about my mom. I admit that I projected a need for him to “stop the nonsense” sometimes when the feelings he brought forth were simply too much for me to own at the time, just like my mom did to me. I just didn’t know it then.

I share with him that I understand that along with his precious memories there was also a need for him to feel mad at me over some things and to be hurt by others. By choices I made, the kind that parents sometimes make using the tools they have at the time. And I share with him that I do and have always done the very best that I possibly could with every fiber of my being. And that my best, the way “bests will do, gets better and better and better as I grow.

And most importantly I honor that I love him so very much and pray that he knows, while actually knowing at my core that he does.

And so to you, my beautiful amazing son and my beautiful amazing mom in heaven, we are connected by motherhood and childhood and all of us always will be. Happy Mothers Day.
Love, Love, Love,
Love, Daughter
Love, MOM