Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Mother's Words

There was a time when I believed whole-heartedly that my mother and I were two irrevocably different people. We saw the world through different eyes and it would always be my mother on one side of a fence, looking into the challenging eyes of someone who just thought differently than she did, Me.

As I've gotten older, I realize that that must of been terribly frustrating for her. To have such a stubborn child who saw herself as such a unique entity, separate from everything else. And wise as all else. I really thought I had the majority of things figured out (which of course would be a rude awakening for me later). In recent years, I think part of what has made growing up so difficult for me, is the realization that for the most part I dont have a single thing figured out. But I'm sure the hefty humble pie I've been eating has made me slightly more bearable to be around (but only slightly). 

The truth of the matter is that, the more I talk with my mother (and yes, we've almost figured out how to speak in an actual conversation about things other than the weather or how inappropriate belly shirts are - which hilariously enough was a topic of conversation she brought up once in the car, as she pointed out a girl who definitely should not have been wearing a belly shirt, as a way of encouraging me to disapprove of them just as strongly as she did), I've come to understand that my mother's way of thinking has shaped my way of thinking. It is her voice of caution I hear in the back of mind. It is her words that come to me in moments of distress. I'm the sort of girl who remembers the things people say to me (for instance - when I was in elementary school my mother took me to Raymond, and we were outside of my Great Grandma Dahl's house, and my mother had done something I severely disapproved of. And I was of course, expressing that displeasure to its fullest. To which my mother said "You dont have to like the things I do. I'm your mother. You can take note of all the things you dislike and when you're the Mom you can do them differently." That is one of those statements that she may have meant flippantly, a defense to shut down any argument I would throw at her, but I took it to heart, and have been taking note of the things I liked and disliked about the behaviour of those around me ever since). I take awhile to process some things, but I think about things people have said to me years before and debate the relevancy and truth of such statements (because I do believe that there usually is truth to most statements). People's words hold value. Whether they intend it or not. And there is always power in words. And maybe remembering their words changes them slightly, but history is more about perspective than actual facts. Its more about how you see it on reflection, what the words mean when you hold them at arms length and really look at them and less about how it was actually seen. Because meanings change with experience and so do words.   

Maybe I've taken a little of my mother's caution, but when it comes down to it, my mother and I think much more similarly than my 17-year-old self could of ever guessed we would. She champions me learning and progressing from my experiences - in writing down and remembering what I liked and what I most definitely (and usually easily) can figure I did not like. And I think the value I place on self-reflection, is partly due to her encouragement. 

My mom is a smart lady. And I dont think I say that out loud enough. Yes, at times we still think very differently and hold distinct things as important or unimportant (we are, after all, not the same person). But more often than not, I will discover that I like how she sees something, and decide that I kinda see it that way too.  

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