I remember when love between my little girl and I flowed like a crystal stream. Absolute trust and adoration. Our mutual love was the garden in which she grew and in which I found the immeasurable joy of this unique relationship, parent and child.
Then she grew into a teenager, and someone stole my darling and replaced her with a monster. The usual complaint. Where did my little sweetheart go? Well, she turned into a person, and the years slowly built up so very many small hurts and blames, guilts and regrets.
It’s easy to parent a beautiful little child, well, not easy, but it sure is easy to adore them. They return the love in buckets, in spades, in great big oceans of trust and belief in your ultimate authority and all-wise knowledge.
That does not last. We know that. Eventually it all becomes hopelessly complicated by the demands of life for today’s high-pressure kids. School was hard enough in my day, but so much harder now. I mean, can you imagine, learning MATH in FRENCH IMMERSION??? (I’m talking Canadian schools here. And of course, French Immersion is a choice.) I had a hard time learning math in plain old English. Today’s kids must have brains shaped different from my own cohort!
Well, our lives became quite complex. I ran a business from home, had clients living in our space frequently, there was a strict routine and I was a nervous wreck a lot of the time. Then I got PMS. For anyone who thinks PMS is an imaginary condition, just try having it for two days. You’ll be amazed. I could feel it coming on, like a hurricane blowing in off the ocean. The barometer fell the day before it started each month and my daughter and husband would look at me in dread when I would say, “I can feel it starting. I can’t help it. I’ll be myself again by Friday.”
There was absolutely nothing I could do in the face of the chemical changes plundering the far reaches of my body and mind for 48 hours. I threw things. I yelled. The dog ran for cover. I would stand outside myself and watch myself in horror, yet was powerless to do anything to stop it. If clients were in the house during my monthly PMS, I would turn it over to the staff and stay out of sight whenever possible.
It finally stopped, as suddenly as it started. I had no idea why it started or what made it stop.
I loved Lori more than words can say. And always I wished I could have been a more perfect mom. Sometimes I would put my arms around her and hold her close, saying, “Your skin is like the inside of an oyster shell. Your eyes are like blue cornflowers. Your hair is like golden silk. I love you so much.”
Still, I was certainly highly imperfect and took liberties which today’s parents are taught to avoid. A smack on the shoulder if she annoyed me. And I yelled a lot. Things used to be different in the old days of course, but nothing changes the fact that I did not treat her as perfectly as I wished I had.
Well, that’s fine, the years go by and we learn and grow, right? Except for the fact that she died just before her 23rd birthday. And I was left knowing that I had been an imperfect mom. If I hadn’t loved her so much, I wouldn’t have minded so much. But I continued to mind all down the years since. Twenty-three years this summer.
This morning something really strange happened. I was lying in bed with my tea, watching the news etc. My daughter’s picture is near me on the filing cabinet in the bedroom. I was thinking the usual, “I wish I had been a perfect mom. I loved you so much. I wish I had never thrown a bottle of pop at you. I can’t believe I did that. You never knew how much I adored you. I always expected so much of you. I didn’t encourage you. Remember the night I didn’t put your supper out because the house was full of clients? And I got mad at you when you came in looking for your supper? I feel so terrible about that.” And so on. And on.
I glanced over at her picture. And as our eyes met, something happened on a quantum level. She began to communicate with me. It’s hard to explain. It was like, my own mind-field and her mind-field met in the middle and we transferred a conversation.
It went like this.
“Mom, do you realize how it makes me feel when I remember all the things I could have done to support you during those hard days when you were so overwhelmed and Dad didn’t help you and you were so alone with everything? I did nothing to support you. Maybe brought you a cup of tea in the morning, but I could have done so much more.
I could have told you how terrific I thought you were. I never, ever told you that. I can’t believe I never told you that, mom. So many things I could have helped you with. I used to wish you would come to the school to watch my performances, but I knew Dad wouldn’t take you and you couldn’t drive. But I still felt bad you weren’t there. I know I was just a kid, but some kids do more for their mom than I did.
It makes me feel dreadful when I sit around and remember all the things I didn’t do to help you, or make you feel better. All I did was get mad and criticize you when I talked to other people. I could have told Dad to help you more too, but I never did. So many things I’d like to go back and change.But I can’t! All I can do is sit and wish I’d been different.
Mom, how do you think it makes me feel when I remember all these things, and it’s too late to change them? I feel awful. I’m in this different Afterlife world here and mostly it’s so wonderful, but sometimes I just feel so bad that I can’t go back and do more for you. And I want you to know that if you feel bad, like you didn’t do enough for me, I feel just the same about how I treated you. And there is nothing I can do to change it.”
I sat and stared at her picture. It was so stunning. She was communicating with me. She felt bad about things. She was wasting her wonderful experience in the Afterlife in pointless regrets over her imperfections in being a daughter. And then I thought of all the time I spend wishing I had been a better daughter to my own mom. Some days I was torn with regrets over not being a perfect mom and with regrets over not being a perfect daughter. Some days were a mess.
And as I sat looking at her picture, our eyes meeting, I felt a flood of relief pour into my body and mind, my whole system. The new knowledge was,”How about we all let go of all our regrets and just let the love we feel for each other fill us all up every day, and never ever feel bad again?
And then my mom was there in the background, smiling and nodding her head in total agreement.
And then I realized that my mom also had been spoiling her precious time in the Afterlife with regrets over her own parenting. My mom who endured immeasurable poverty and had no one at all to offer her the smallest kind of support. She wished she could have done better for us, for me, for the others. And she had no resources to do better with, ever.
And the pointlessness of all this self-recrimination and regret suddenly seemed so stupid, such a waste of time. All completely unnecessary, because underneath all the regrets lay an ocean of pure, unspoiled love flowing between my mom, my daughter and myself. We were awash in love. And behind all three of us lay lifetimes of the best effort we could put forth, given what we had.
I posted something a short time ago about a Time Machine our governments have known about for many years. It would be great if we could have access to that machine some day and go back and do it all differently.
But would we? Why would we bother, when all we have to do is accept the absolute total forgiveness we all feel for one another and immerse ourselves in that ocean of mutual love and admiration we all experience? We fought the good fight. We kept the faith, all three of us. We never let each other down, we always tried to do beyond our best. The fact that sometimes it was not up to the standard required is just evidence of our mutual humanity.
And what courage it took to run that race!! And we never wavered, always trying to get the best out of each other, even though sometimes we did it very badly.
I am glad to have had this human experience. I don’t mind that I was imperfect, as daughter and as mom. I ran the race, by God, and the love we now feel for each other, across the quantum miles that separate us temporarily, makes it all worthwhile.
And that love is all the trophy I will ever need.
I hereby make a pact with the world around me. I will never, ever again wallow in regret. The bottle throwing incident is forgiven, washed away by love and understanding. I will never mention it again or brood about it again.
I am free.
I did a good job. She says so. Across the miles. Across the miles, her smile, her beautiful smile.