Over this past weekend, with a new month beckoning, a large stack of new magazines arrived. Last night, I had the opportunity to settle in and start reading one, in particular – Family Circle. As a voracious reader, I tend to read magazines and books of all genre, even those that may contain some content not particularly relevant to me. Though, last night, the large feature I stumbled upon resonated with me more than I could have ever imagined, inspiring this very post.
Given it is the May issue, Family Circle carved out an entire section dedicated to mothers of all kind, allowing women to share their personal accounts with motherhood, as either the mother or daughter, or in some cases, both. All of us out there, whether we are close with our mothers or not, have ever met them, or if they have passed on, are either daughters or sons. One story in particular, recounted by a favorite author of mine – Liz Pryor, detailed one particular encounter with her mother, as a young teen, which stood out to me, as I could personally identify with it,
In the story, Liz shared how her mother was always perceived by her friend’s as “one of them,” the one who let loose on the weekends, had a laid-back approach to parenting and to some, may have been perceived as a “careless mother.” One day, in her sophomore year of high school, she was slated to have her braces removed. It was an imperative appointment, scheduled weeks in advance and in preparation, Liz posted signs to remind her mother. The day arrived and instead of arriving early to pick up Liz, as scheduled, she arrived well past the time of school ending, rendering them late for her appointment. Upon seeing her mother’s car with a fierceness and anger building in her body, she unleashed the second she entered the vehicle, telling her mother she needed to go to “parenting school,” among other harsh declarations and accusations. Her mother remained silent, simply driving to the orthodontist, letting Liz continue on her rampage. When they arrived at the doctor, her mother turned to her and instructed her to walk in because the staff was waiting for her – she had called in advance to let them know they would be late and were en route. As she heard this, Liz clutched the door handle, stunned into silence. Her mother continued and said for her to go in and she would wait for her outside. As it turned out, Liz’s mother, freshly divorced from Liz’s father was returning to the workforce and had arrived in a frenzy from the real estate exam she was taking, leaving early to take Liz to her appointment, because Liz’s grandmother was recently diagnosed with a grave disease/illness and could not accompany Liz as she would when her mother was unavailable.
Arriving late to pick up Liz, it was easy for Liz to assume the worst, given her mother’s laid-back nature and approach to life and parenting. I’m guilty of assuming the worst not only sometimes of my family, but also of those who claim they love me. It is a part of me I’m not proud of, but one that often stems from my internal low self-esteem and concept, always questioning if I am deserving of love and the undivided attention of others. Reading the story Liz shared comes at a time when almost 14 years to the present – May 2, 2005, specifically, my mother was injured in a serious, head-on collision to which she walked out with a shattered left wrist, needing reconstruction and a metal plate. That day still haunts me and is difficult to escape given my birthday is the next day. Sitting in my 11th grade social studies class, my now-aged flip phone alerted me to a text message from my sister, Hope. Back then, receiving texts during the day, especially from my sister, were rare. It simply read, “Mom was in an accident, I’ll be picking you up from school today.” Back then, Hope was a college student, studying not far, but lived on-campus. Her schedule was busy, but knowing she was picking up that day in place of mom signaled something grave had happened. My pulse quickened and I felt my sanity leaving me. Without a question to consider what I was doing, I quickly muttered to my teacher, I needed to go to the office to make a call and ran out of the classroom. Down the hallway I went, encountering hall-aides who stopped to question me, but ignored them, running as fast as my feet would carry me to the office. When I finally reached the office, the words, “Need to make a call, Mom in accident,” were all I could muster. When I finally heard Hope’s voice and took in her words, I learned our Mom had been injured in a collision and was transported to the local hospital via ambulance. The extent of her injuries, thankfully, were confined to her wrist, something that could be repaired.
When I think back to the moment and the story Liz shared, I’m reminded of how precious life is and how sometimes or most of the time, really, we never actually know what is going on in someone’s life. Seeing her mother being late, Liz assumed the worst, not realizing all her mother was working through while trying her hardest to be there for Liz. She didn’t want to “burden” her with all she was encountering and often times, through my adolescence and even now, I need a reminder of this. That day, when my mom was injured in the car accident, she was running errands in relation to me and my impending birthday. It is a reminder of the importance to love what our friends and family have given us, love them where they are and when you question something they’ve said or done, do just that – question, ask them, write them, but give them a chance to explain, because we never know what they may have been experiencing or going through themselves.
When I approached the end of the Family Circle article, Liz concluded her story by stating what her mother finally told her, “I didn’t need to go to parenting school. She said no school could teach her what she knew was most important about her job as a mother: making sure her children felt loved by her completely. That, she said, was the one thing she hoped to get right. And she did.”