It’s my Mom’s Birthday on November 11. Her tombstone reads 1915 but she was really born in 1913. This is a fact that is known by all of the family but that’s not the point of this story. She would have been 104 years old this year, 2017. She did not like to be asked her age, it wasn’t polite and she certainly detested being called an “old lady.” It’s a Southern thing.
On May 9, 2013 this video was launched by Conscious Discipline®. I Love You Rituals-Your Guide For Meaningful Connections. It was Mother’s Day. It was the first Mother’s Day after my Mom’s death. And there it is! I called her Mom instead of Mother! There’s the story and the connection is actually caught on the video.
The video with my Mom and me was taken 3 years earlier by Michael, 2009. It was her 96th birthday and she was on a dementia ward. It took me 2 years to hand the video to Dr. Bailey, creator of Conscious Discipline This video documents the first time I EVER felt a connection with my Mom. Connection is totally different than love. I looked and looked at that video reliving that moment for two years. I began to rewrite the story of my Mom and me.
The Old Story
Your perception from the video is that my relationship with my Mom is just “so very sweet!” Well let me set you straight. That was never the case. Oh, she certainly “loved me” and I “loved her.” Each outfit I wore in High School was perfectly matched with gloves, shoes and purse. My Mom was the extraordinary seamstress. She could see a “Bobby Brooks” outfit that I liked and whip up that outfit for me in less than a week. I hated it. I wanted the label. She just didn’t get me and it felt like she didn’t even want to get me. I got a job at the local store to buy the “Bobby Brooks” outfit. There’s the solution.
In 1969 I came home feeling absolutely devastated. My boyfriend had asked a friend (or so I thought) out on a date. I shared my heartache with her and her response was there were dishes to be washed. That was pretty much the moment that I vowed never to share any of my problems with her. I went to college 6 hours away and have never lived less than 8 hours away. Geography is the solution.
There are many more stories but I believe that you get the gist. I coveted something different with my Mom. I never could quite identify what that something was but it was like a hole in my heart. I saw what other friends had with their Mom and I wanted it so very badly. I wanted a Mom that I could come to, share my problems with and get some empathy, some understanding. My solutions were much the same as hers; ignoring through geography.
My Mom grew up on a farm in Mississippi. Your typical farm with cows, pigs, chickens and mules. Your typical farm with rows and rows of corn, peanuts and sugar cane. Your typical farm with an outhouse. Her mother made all of her clothes. My Mom’s Mother put her 5 sisters through college; teachers and nurses, yet both her daughters did not attend college. They were poor, yet rich. That’s the short story!
The New Story
So I began to rewrite my story with my Mom in 2009 after feeling the connection with my Mom. I believe that she did the best that she could. I think that’s called acceptance, the first step. She desperately wanted her daughters to attend college and they did! So how did it happen for me?
We moved to Kentucky when I was a rising 4th grader. My Dad worked for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Believe it or not the public schools received money for each TVA child that attended a public school at that time. Children were grouped and my Mom was not happy that I was grouped into the lower achieving group and she marched into the school and let it be known that her child should be in the highest achieving group. I believe that is called having a Big Voice. Her Big Voice got me moved and that changed the trajectory of my entire life or so I believe.
The Power of Attention, what you focus of you get more of is an interesting thing. I am beginning to remember more and more stories of Mom and how she shaped my life and made me strong, resilient and find my Big Voice.
One more story! It’s March 1997. I just found out that my husband (former now) was having an affair. I was going to see my parents. How on earth could I tell them? What an angst! I never tell my Mom anything. I fly into Knoxville, rent a car to meet them at a condo in the Smoky Mountains. I walk into the condo and my Mom exclaims, before she even hugs me, “How old is she?” Excuse me but who has invaded my Mom’s body? Is she truly this understanding? Does she finally get what I am feeling? Yes! Cross my fingers and hope that it is happening.
So fast forward to November 11, 2009 and the video. BOOM! The connection happens! It’s electric, charged, different. The entire day is different. She is different. I am different!
I am still working on the story! It’s a work in progress and one that I feel gratitude for in my life.