I just had a conversation with my mother, which in and of itself is not particularly remarkable because we talk all the time. In most of the conversation I was annoyed with her as she was expressing her political and religious views of which I am the polar opposite but at the end of the conversation we had a moment. It was completely unexpected and I don’t know if it was as much a moment for her as it was for me but it washed over me like a tsunami and reverberates in me still.
It began innocently enough as a comment from her about her dogs, how one is “good” and the other is “naughty”. How she didn’t understand why they’re so different because she is the same parent to both. I said, “Well, it’s like children. Their own personalities play a huge role in who they are, no matter what the parenting style may be.” The conversation then moved to my niece and how adorable she is, and funny. My mother was trying to think of who my niece is like in our family and she wasn’t really sure of who to say when she suddenly turned her attention to Ryan. My youngest. My passionate youngest child. She said, “Now Ryan? That one is just like me. He is JUST like me!” I wasn’t sure where she was going with this because I had never noticed a similarity in their temperaments or anything so I waited for her explanation. What she told me painted such an image for me that it made me weep, quietly so she wouldn’t hear me.
Last week, the boys went over to my parents house while I went to an appointment. It was a gloomy day, gray and rainy and cold. While I was gone, my mom said that Ryan sat outside on her deck in the rain and she said that she could tell how much he loved it. She stood and watched him from the window for the longest time. He was sitting on their outside dining table, sheltered from the rain by the umbrella, and he was talking to himself and having a good old time. It reminded her of being a little girl in love with the wind. She said she would sit on the porch as a child when it was windy outside, and wrap herself up in a blanket, loving the experience of the cold wind hitting her face but being completely enveloped in the warmth that the blanket provided. She could identify with Ryan loving the idea of being exposed and protected at the same time. It was so vivid to me. As she was talking a vision formed in my mind and I could see my mother as a little girl, wrapped up in her blanket, the wind whispering around her face, imagining the excitement and joy she felt in such a simple thing. Something so simple and yet powerful enough to be with her today, and I wept. She is so afraid of life and of change and yet, in that moment I can only imagine that as a girl, she never dreamed she would end up that way. Locked in her home, afraid to drive, afraid to live and experience all the joys of life and the people around us.
I don’t know if I’m even conveying here how powerful that was for me. I don’t want Ryan to grow up and be afraid of life but I do see a tremendous amount of fear in him. I don’t want him to be in his home, looking out the window at his grandchild, remembering the liberation of feeling the rain on his face, wondering where life could have taken him. It was tremendously sad for me to see my mother this way and yet extraordinary at the same time. It has given me an incredible new perspective on who she is and why she does the things that annoy me so. It has also made me even sadder for her than I was before and believe me, I didn’t think that was possible.
I don’t have any pearls of wisdom with which to wrap this up. No conclusions to draw from this experience yet as it is just too new but I felt compelled to share it. It has brought up so many things in my mind and my heart and I don’t know how to process all of it yet. I’m sure there will be more in the days to come.