Sunday, April 26, 2009

Things My Mother Taught Me, Inadvertently

If you are a follower of my sister's blog, or came to this blog via my brother's myspace page, then you already know that our mother died on the 19th of April.  Both of them have posted about her passing, but it's taken me a bit longer to get my thoughts together on the matter.  

It's only been a week, but I feel like I still have a lot of emotion to unpack. My most frequent feeling is anger, but I know that's just one of the stages of grief, so I'm not letting it manifest itself.  I think I've been angry at her for a long time, without really letting myself know that I was.  

Last fall, when my sister and I went to settle her into a nursing home, it was a very shocking experience.  I remember that after that part of my trip was over and we were driving back to Tennessee, I began to work on what I called my Anti-Mom Manifesto.  It was a list of reminders of things that she was or did that I didn't want to become or repeat.  So, in essence, the most valuable things I learned from my mother were all about seeing her life as a cautionary tale.

1. Take care of my health.  Don't allow myself to become addicted to anything harmful.  Don't take my health for granted.

2. Forgive those who wrong me (including her!)  Lack of forgiveness leads to bitterness.  

3. Don't be a victim.  Have good boundaries and defend them.

4. Make good decisions.  Try to correct mistakes, and then move on.

5.  Don't accumulate material possessions.  Accumulate healthy relationships.

6.  Pets are not more important than people. 

7.  Don't settle for crummy from myself - strive for excellence.

8.  Be honest with myself and others.  Be willing to examine my life and tell the truth about what I see there.

9.  Put my child's needs before my own most of the time.  Not always, but mostly.  

10. Only cook with fresh, wholesome ingredients.

I'm sure that not every item on this list will have the same significance for my readers as it has for me.  I'm sure there's more.  I don't really want to talk about how she didn't do these things.  

So, in addition to dealing with my mother dying, I am still living in limbo regarding where we're moving to in...a little over 2 months...GRRRRRRR!

The options are Berlin, Germany or back to the states.  I mostly feel like I could go to either place and it would be ok, but we are just waiting and waiting and waiting and it's getting a bit tedious.  To say the least.  

To keep myself sane, I have worked on a few projects.  But I will save that for tomorrow's post.  And I'm still singing with the choir - we are getting close to our performances in early May.  And then that part of my life will be over.  I'm so glad I joined the choir and hope I have the opportunity to do it again wherever we wind up.  


Carmen Rose said...

I really "get" this list, I have thought in recent years of lessons my mother taught me that I had to unlearn. The beauty of this is learning from someone else's mistakes, seeing how they reap what they've sown and therefore being able to skip some of those mistakes, or at least focus on not repeating them. I think this is healthy, and any time something like this leads us to forgive a little more deeply, that is good. Thanks for sharing this!

CB said...

I'm so glad that you've managed to unpack and articulate your emotions so positively. You've chosen to live positively, allowing your mind to be renewed so you can move onto a fuller and better life (Eph 4:22-24). We can all learn from your list. I'm so proud of you!

Melody said...

It's good to see the list in print. It helps reinforce the concepts.
I am still working on some of these, and others are second nature. The more we focus the easier everything gets.
Love yourself and you'll have more love to give others.

GARI said...

One of the things I learned was to accept my mother exactly as she is. Accepting is not liking, it is accepting "what I cannot change." This was the most liberating thing I have ever learned. I stopped either trying to change her or wishing she would change: quiet a restful experience.

Akiko said...

So good to see you here. Hmmm, what did my mother teach me?? Oh, she asked me to smile always.

Anonymous said...

Ooh! I loved Berlin when I lived in Germany...then again, I was just visiting so I don't know what it would be like to live there. I must read more to find out where you're living now...I long for living overseas again!

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