Relationship with Mother Archives - Stratejoy
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I hate it when reality comes to kick me in the ass.

My mom came for a visit a couple of weeks ago. She had a conference in town and decided to bookend it with a stay at Disney, and because I now live so close, that also meant more than one trip to my apartment.

Now, I know you don’t know my mom. She is polite, gracious, smart, funny, and the mother of all perfectionists. And she has definite ideas about who I should be.

She’s willing to support me trying to follow the Paleo diet, but not a pole dance class.

She’s willing to support me going to yoga, but when she sees my bracelets that read STRONG and FEARLESS, she cocks a brow and asks why I would wear them.

She encourages me to continue working at a job where I can already see the writing on the wall. Why? Because it’s a steady paycheck and health insurance.

She shops with me for t-shirts and jeans, but not strappy high heels. Because, naturally, the only place I would wear those is in my pole class, which makes them stripper shoes.

My mom is supportive of the rule-following, head-down-and-nose-to-the-grindstone girl I was when I lived in Michigan.

I am not that person any longer. And it seems the more I share the woman I am becoming, the less I seem to fit the mold of “acceptable daughter”.

Last December, I got a tattoo on my left wrist. It’s the symbol for om–yes, as in chanted meditation om–which, among other things, signifies the belief that everything happens in this moment. I got it for a multitude of personal reasons, but at the front of my mind was the realization that I need to live in the present.

The tattoo did not go over well with Mom. Why? Because now she was one of “those” moms: the ones with kids who have piercings and tattoos. Because at 27, I had made a decision that clearly signified that I was going to head down a path of stupid decisions.

Me, the one with the masters’ degree.

Me, the one who doesn’t drink.

Me, the one who spent 4 months making sure it was something I truly wanted before I committing to the ink.

None of this mattered. I was now casting her parenting skills in a bad light.

My confession about pole classes was met with silence at first. And then a line of questioning into my motives which actually ended with me having to confirm that I had no intention of becoming a stripper.

She didn’t ask about why I wanted to study pole.

I would have had her watch a video of Natasha Wang or Jenyne Butterfly; ladies who truly make pole dance look like art.

I would have told her that I wanted to actually connect to my body and what it meant to be feminine.

Sensing another fight and another instance of disappointment, I gave up trying to explain myself. So when the day came to pick my mom up from the airport, I packed up my grip aid, my meditation supplies, my sage, and my 7″ platform heels.

I packed away me, and I’m at war with myself because of it.

Part of me believes that there is no shame in trying to avoid conflict, especially if I can see it coming a mile away. The other part of me says that I’m not being honest.

Because you know what else I discovered? It’s not about me becoming the woman I was always meant to be.

It’s about her. It’s about my mom, and the fact that I’m making choices she never would have made. It’s about not supporting actions that do not fit in her world and with her perception of her family’s roles.

It’s not about me. And for the first time, I can truly see that.

(Image credit: epSos.de)

Dear Momma,

For the last seven years, I’ve always hated Mother’s Day because it’s a painful reminder of losing you in 2003.  I thought by now my wounds would heal and the pain would diminish, but each year it seems to get harder and harder to cope.

This year has been exceptionally difficult for me emotionally.  I’ve struggled with the loneliness of living abroad, and I’ve been fighting my depression off and on recently.  I thought I could do this alone and be fine with it, but the truth is, I really need you right now, more than ever.

I just want one more day.  To see you smile.  To share conversation over a cup of coffee.  To hear you laugh.  To enjoy your home-cooked meals one last time.  To know that you’re still proud of me, even if I haven’t been the best daughter to you.

It’s been a tough eight years, but I’m trying to stay strong.  I’m trying to stand on my own two feet without breaking down in tears, and I’m trying to put on a brave face on holidays like Mother’s Day.

My heart aches constantly, but sometimes it’s a good kind of pain because it reminds me to continue living my life with strength, intention, and passion, and to never take anything – or anyone – for granted.

I’m stronger for living my life with such courage and grace after you’re gone.  I’m wiser after learning the hard way about how important parents are in a daughter’s life.

Thank you for giving me a second chance at life.  Thank you for providing me with a wonderful, caring childhood.  Thank you for showing me how to find the strength to continue living each day without you.

I’m grateful for all of the things you gave me and all of the things you taught me over the years.  On this Mother’s Day 2011, I just want to say thank you for being the best mother I could have ever had.  I know you’re shining down on me, and I hope you’re smiling at what you see.

A pink balloon for you last year; another pink balloon for you this year.

Loving you always, missing you more,

Your Loving Daughter

Rest in Peace, Momma
July 8, 1949 – June 4, 2003

{photo credit: Chris Moseley}

I spent most of my childhood feeling distant from my mother.  Though we look a lot a like (A LOT), our personalities could not be more different.  My mother is from Jersey; one in a family of nine; She is loud and she has a laugh that can fill a room.  She’s never afraid to say whatever is on her mind–whether it be good or bad.  (This is usually prolematic when it comes to dining at restaurants.)  She lacks what my father and I call a “filter.”  Thoughts just flow straight from the brain and out of her mouth.  It’s a personality that you either love for its honest (sometimes brutal) truth, or hate.  I remember lowering my head in embarassment on more than one occassion.  I kinda hated it.

Middle school and high school were strange times for me.  (They are strange for everyone though, right?)  We didn’t talk about boys.  We never had a sex talk.  We didn’t talk about what it is like to become a woman.  In fact, I could barely stomach the idea of asking her to help me buy a pad when I got my period.  We did however do the usual mother-daughter stuff: shopping for formal dresses, shoes and getting manicures and pedicures.  Somehow that open and honest person had difficulty communicating with me.  I just figured that she didn’t “get” me…that our personalities were too different for us to ever become best friends.

That began to change after the start of my quarter life crisis.  Our conversations became more open.  We talked about money, men and meaning.  We discussed religion, race and romance.  I started to realize that we were not so different after all. I saw her in a new light.

Her lack of a “filter” simply means that she always lives her truth because she is never afraid to speak it.  Wow.  I wish it had not taken me 20-something years to appreciate that.

Now, as I continue on this journey through my quarter life crisis, that trait of her’s that use to cause me to lower my head in shame?  I covet it.  The people pleaser inside of me often bites her tongue.  She is afraid to ask for her own needs to be met.  She lets others dictate how she is to live her life.

I do not think that I will ever get rid of my own filter.  It is a part of me, and it is actually useful at times.  But I do want to be a little more like Mom.

I want to be comfortable enough with myself that I can walk out of the front door each morning and say, “Hello World.  This is me.  Love me, or hate me.  This. is. me.”

(photo: my family and me standing outside our house a few days before my son was due…I think I went to the hospital that day.)

When I graduated from Davidson and started that ever-so-fun job search, my mother read my cover letters, used and abused her contacts, reminded me to write thank you notes and was generally my one-woman cheerleader.

My mom has always been an out-of-the-box kind of thinker. Don’t just send a resume, if you’re applying for a publicity position (which I was at the time), send them a PR plan. If there’s something you want and you fail the first time, just look at it from a different angle.

A few years ago the family dog, Dillon, ran away while at doggy camp (yes, doggy camp). My family was on vacation and couldn’t do a hell of a lot about the situation. Long story short, my mother was a whirlwind of activity. She put up posters, called newspapers and community centers, even made a poster of Dillon’s face that the family put on the back of our car. My dad and her plotted where Dillon had been seen on a map and because of this she eventually found Dillon, despite her being lost for two weeks and had apparently been hit by a car. Twice.

And just this year I was held in British customs for two days and sent to a detention facility. Very scary stuff and not a ton I could have done to get out of the situation. I was being deported and that was that. Except my mom stepped in. I got a very powerful  media man to speak on my behalf. She organized all the things immigration said I was lacking and got them to reevaluate my case. Unfortunately, I was still denied entry. But then mommy called the Big Bad Immigration Officer directly and 20 minutes later I was free.

This is the kind of woman my mother is. She’s like a dog with a freaking bone – she just doesn’t give up.

She’s also pretty interesting. She graduated high school at 16, ended up as a radio DJ and eventually a reporter on CNN. She’s published a book. Went to the Sahara to dig up some plane. Lived in Syria for a month so she could improve her Arabic. Is in Iceland at the moment speaking at some conference or another. She’s basically exactly who I want to be.

Out of all the things my mom has instilled in me, it’s that sense of determination is what she really passed on. She recently asked me after I accomplished something awesome (can’t even remember what it was now), “How did you get to be such a go-getter?” Um…. Where do you think, woman?!

That said, we disagree on almost everything (mostly just to disagree), religion being the big one. I definitely disappointed her in that department, but I believe what I believe and hopefully that never becomes a huge issue between us.

Our relationship has definitely not been easy. I went through a phase in high school where I wanted nothing to do with her, but I guess that’s teenagers, right? We definitely get along better when I’m not living in her house. That said, it doesn’t mean I don’t miss her like crazy.

And as for the rest of my family – I love them to bits. My three brothers are pretty awesome, my dad is hilarious. Meaning home was always crazy. Back when the two older boys (I’m the oldest) were in high school, their friends would come over every Friday to have Nerf gun fights and eat all the food in the house. Anytime I’d bake you could be damn sure it would be gone within in hour. They’d play video games loud or run around outside acting like crazy people. Now they play beer pong on the kitchen island and have girlfriends.

My family is completely incapable of having a normal meal. The conversation gets progressively louder as dinner goes on until we’re all screaming at each other – but in a totally loving way. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because of this.

We don’t sing kumbaya or talk about our feelings but I’d consider my family to be pretty tight. I do adore them. I just can’t live with them. Partly because I feel like a child in that house, partly because it’s too freaking loud and I can’t think, partly because we drive each other crazy, but I did grow up in an environment that was 99% Awesome.

My family doesn’t particularly know or care about my QLC and that’s okay. I think my parents are just waiting for me to get a real job and start being an Adult, but I know they’re proud of me and want me to be happy and do things and have adventures. Hopefully I can follow through.

When I graduated from Davidson and started that ever-so-fun job search, my mother read my cover letters, used and abused her contacts, reminded me to write thank you notes and was generally my one-woman cheerleader.

My mom has always been an out-of-the-box kind of thinker. Don’t just send a resume, if you’re applying for a publicity position (which I was at the time), send them a PR plan. If there’s something you want and you fail the first time, just look at it from a different angle.

A few years ago the family dog, Dillon, ran away while at doggy camp (yes, doggy camp). My family was on vacation and couldn’t do a hell of a lot about the situation. Long story short, my mother was a whirlwind of activity. She put up posters, called newspapers and community centers, even made a poster of Dillon’s face that the family put on the back of our car. My dad and her plotted where Dillon had been seen on a map and because of this she eventually found Dillon, despite her being lost for two weeks and had apparently been hit by a car. Twice.

And just this year I was held in British customs for two days and sent to a detention facility. Very scary stuff and not a ton I could have done to get out of the situation. I was being deported and that was that. Except my mom stepped in. I got a very powerful  media man to speak on my behalf. She organized all the things immigration said I was lacking and got them to reevaluate my case. Unfortunately, I was still denied entry. But then mommy called the Big Bad Immigration Officer directly and 20 minutes later I was free.

This is the kind of woman my mother is. She’s like a dog with a freaking bone – she just doesn’t give up.

She’s also pretty interesting. She graduated high school at 16, ended up as a radio DJ and eventually a reporter on CNN. She’s published a book. Went to the Sahara to dig up some plane. Lived in Syria for a month so she could improve her Arabic. Is in Iceland at the moment speaking at some conference or another. She’s basically exactly who I want to be.

Out of all the things my mom has instilled in me, it’s that sense of determination is what she really passed on. She recently asked me after I accomplished something awesome (can’t even remember what it was now), “How did you get to be such a go-getter?” Um…. Where do you think, woman?!

That said, we disagree on almost everything (mostly just to disagree), religion being the big one. I definitely disappointed her in that department, but I believe what I believe and hopefully that never becomes a huge issue between us.

Our relationship has definitely not been easy. I went through a phase in high school where I wanted nothing to do with her, but I guess that’s teenagers, right? We definitely get along better when I’m not living in her house. That said, it doesn’t mean I don’t miss her like crazy.

And as for the rest of my family – I love them to bits. My three brothers are pretty awesome, my dad is hilarious. Meaning home was always crazy. Back when the two older boys (I’m the oldest) were in high school, their friends would come over every Friday to have Nerf gun fights and eat all the food in the house. Anytime I’d bake you could be damn sure it would be gone within in hour. They’d play video games loud or run around outside acting like crazy people. Now they play beer pong on the kitchen island and have girlfriends.

My family is completely incapable of having a normal meal. The conversation gets progressively louder as dinner goes on until we’re all screaming at each other – but in a totally loving way. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because of this.

We don’t sing kumbaya or talk about our feelings but I’d consider my family to be pretty tight. I do adore them. I just can’t live with them. Partly because I feel like a child in that house, partly because it’s too freaking loud and I can’t think, partly because we drive each other crazy, but I did grow up in an environment that was 99% Awesome.

My family doesn’t particularly know or care about my QLC and that’s okay. I think my parents are just waiting for me to get a real job and start being an Adult, but I know they’re proud of me and want me to be happy and do things and have adventures. Hopefully I can follow through.