This week is the final week of a contest that could win you a $150 target giftcard and goodies from some of our favorite artists- Amy from Brownie-Goose, Leah from Red Clover. The contest is to write a letter to your mom, be it funny, sarcastic, loving, cheeky. As many of us become mamas, we are realizing how good most of us had it. And while I am one of the esteemed :) judges of this contest and can't enter, I felt something the other night that I wanted to write to my own mom. If you can use $150 to Target, send in a letter. http://www.momsarehuman.com/p/dear-mama-contest.html. Deadline is St. Patty's day next week. So, to my own crazy, beautiful mother...
This week I cried. (insert mom saying ‘what else is new Keri?’ ) But I didn’t cry for the usual reasons, like being tired or feeling like a whale or Izzy still not being back on Grey’s Anatomy. I cried because I was a bear to you. Last week, and a month ago, and five years ago, and every day from age 12-17, and lots of days before that, I was a bear to you. I do not remember being slapped as a child and wonder what kind of super-human self-control you had. I do remember going through my childhood thinking I knew something. For as long as I can remember, I have been telling you what to do. Sometimes, this has been under the guise of real social work knowledge, or daughterly advice. But mostly, this has been pure, run of the mill arrogance. I don’t quite get how you raised such a ‘know-it-all’ of a daughter. I blame you. And I pray for a boy because I have one heck of a load of karma coming my way if this is baby is named Mary Kate.
I hesitate to get too personal on this blog sometimes but one of the things I remember ‘advising’ you on, as the professional nine-year-old that I was, was how to get involved and how to make friends. I have tried pushing you into committees, groups, bible studies. I remember thinking, ‘why isn’t this easier for you? It’s simple, just call someone.’ So fast forward 20 years, and I am having some major realizations. For the first time in my life, I do not have a “set” group of friends near me. I don’t have 4 committees and a day planner packed full of activities that effortlessly give me a niche. I am, for the first time in my life, without a “place.” In its place is a range of emotions from vulnerability to loneliness and just plain feeling like a looooser. Being slightly smart enough to take my own nine-year-old advice, I have sought out new opportunities and new people but have been floored at the humility that takes. I basically have to say “Hi. My name is Keri. I am new to this little suburb and I am looking for friends and maybe a play group for my baby. Please be my friend.” I am gagging a little now.
I recently came home from a very precious friend-of-a-friend’s home for dinner. It was a blessing of an evening (note to self, invite more people to dinner. After learning how to cook dinner.) I really enjoyed spending time with this friend and her husband and realized how much I missed fellowship. But as we got into the car, I began thinking, ‘she has tons of friends. It was sweet of her to invite us but I’m sure they don’t need more friends.’ I remembered hearing you say something similar, about lots of sweet folks having their set groups of friends already and that being your deterrent. You and I are very alike in never wanting to push ourselves on anyone or impose on their lives. I was talking to Ross and I realized how self-righteous I have been. I have always assumed that it was sooo easy to make a new friend, find a new place. I thought back through the past 15 or so years, years when I was blessed to never really be without a ‘place.’ I didn’t struggle terribly (more than the average pre-pubescent pimply child) with friends and didn’t spend too many weekend nights alone (though the ones I remember were brutal.) But as I think back, I realize that all those networks were built in. Being a cheerleader meant having things to do during football season. Being on student council meant having meetings after school and retreats. Joining a sorority meant having 40 people in a pledge class with me. Being a part of a larger church meant having small groups built into the fabric. The story is the same- I never had to work for it. I never had to humble myself to find a friend. This year is the first year I have not had a ready-made group. Some of that is intentional- wanting to slow the heck down and not join every committee in town. I wonder if I slowed down too much because obviously I have too much time to think on my hands.
Ma, the point is, I am sorry. I am sorry for assuming that finding a ‘group’ was oh so easy, that making decisions for your child was a piece of cake, that parenting was simply a matter of sticking to your guns. I was and am still, an idiot. I thought I knew everything. And now, thanks to the little lesson growing inside me, I realize I didn’t know a danged thing.
I wonder also if a mama’s favorite time in life is when her own child becomes a parent. I hope that today is the first day of the gazillions where you feel vindicated, where my own journey as a parent teaches me that I am quite the baboon and teaches me that you were waaay smarter than I ever told you.