For this week’s Writer’s Workshop prompt I chose “Share a lesson you learned from your Mother that still sticks with you to this day”.
I struggled with this topic, because I didn’t glean many positive things from my mother. We didn’t share many Hallmark moments learning life lessons over a cup of tea or coffee. There was a lot of yelling, resentment, and dysfunction, but not so much with the touchy-feely learning.
I have felt compelled to write more about my feelings about my mother and Mother’s Day, since it is the first since she died.
I mostly learned the type of mother I don’t want to be. The kind of behavior I never want my daughter to see. The lessons my mother “taught” me weren’t so much taught with intention and thought as learned by me being witness to the person that she was.
From watching her, I learned to always stay on top of my mental health; there is a family history of mental illness and just like being proactive about a family history of breast cancer, I have learned I will have to be proactive about my mental health as well.
She taught me that yelling and rage don’t ever solve anything. All it teaches a child is how to fear confrontation, conflict, and how to feel ashamed and like everything is their fault.
It wasn’t all bad, I suppose. My mom also taught me to love and embrace being different. She exposed me to her generation’s music; the Beatles, The Who, The Mamas and the Papas and growing up, I was almost always the only kid in my class who even knew who those bands were.
She taught me how to love driving through back roads with no real destination, listening to music and enjoying the silent company of the person you are with.
I think one of the lessons I have taken most from my relationship with her is that just because I didn’t have a great mother doesn’t mean that I can’t be one myself. That just because I didn’t have a good example doesn’t mean I am destined to fail my daughter the way I was failed. I am learning to accept my life with her for what it was, not what I wished it would be. I’m working on finding the good lessons and good moments amidst the bad. In a way, I suppose that even now I am learning from her. Learning how to forgive, learning how to let go, learning how to accept. Hard lessons to learn – especially with no mother to guide me – but I’m working it out. And in the end, I know that it will help me be the mother to her that I never had for myself.