"If I had to live my life again, I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner." Tallulah Bankhead
One of the most difficult and most rewarding challenges I've overcome in my life is coming to see and accept my mother as a person. Of course, as a typical "child" I didn't come to that realization until after the fog of puberty hormones had left my brain and the selfishness of my 20s was over. Once I became a mother of my own children and sought out my mother for an entirely new type of support and advice I began to respect her right to be an individual as opposed to simply my mother.
In the years since, our relationship has grown steadily and is firmly cemented with mutual respect, trust, and love for my children. I have also gained an awareness of the gifts I have received (not always gracefully, I regret) over the years from her. I realize that the advantages of watching someone you love make mistakes and recover from them are immeasurable. There are many times in my life where I have had to learn lessons the hard way, and there are other instances where I benefitted from witnessing my mother struggle with difficulties and overcome them. She gave me the ability to trust in my own dreams and invest in my personal happiness and spiritual health. I have watched her put herself last and self-destruct, and I have seen her flourish after following her heart, even when it meant taking a rocky path. As adults, we have formed a mutual admiration society, talking on the phone at least once a week and reminding each other to slow down and remember to take care of ourselves.
My daughters have come to know her as a playmate, a confidante, and a person who loves them without compare. They are secure in the knowledge that her affection for them is unconditional and boundless. Their relationship with her is open and playful, silly and sweet and it enriches all our lives.
We are leaving this afternoon to spend the weekend at her house to celebrate her birthday and, for the first time in several years, my mother will have all of her children with her on her special day. I fully expect to see her cry and hear sentimental words of joy that will make my brother gag, but I also know that her overwhelming happiness at this simple gift will be sincere. Regardless of mistakes she has made as a parent, our knowledge that she would sacrifice virtually everything she had for any of us is unwavering. She continually gives us the gift of her love and support and the benefit of her wisdom and I am tremendously grateful. Happy Birthday, Mom!