I don’t have the greatest track record with men. Among my issues, which include trust, intimacy, control and personal space, I have difficulty believing that you can be truly angry at someone and still love them. Or, put another way, that someone can be truly angry at me, yet still love me.
It occurs to me that I have no such issues as a parent.
I can get incredibly angry at my children. Krystal in particular can push me to the edge, and does on a regular basis. Yet no matter how upset I get, I know that I would still lay down my life for either one of them, and I know that they would never choose to leave me, even though I’ve already heard those dreaded “I hate you” words from my oldest (who is only seven!).
But they’re still little – they don’t really have a choice. What about when they are teenagers, or adults? Will I still feel as confident in their unconditional love?
I was talking with a co-worker the other day. He happens to be a first generation Chinese American. Actually, I’m not even sure of his citizenship status, not that it matters. Just weird that I assumed the “American” part when I wrote that sentence. Anyway, we were talking about the challenges of life for our generation which include taking care of still young children, as well as the responsibility for now-aging parents. I made a comment that I didn’t like my mother, and he said, “You Americans – what is wrong with you and the crazy way you see your family? I would never say that about my mother!” And I said, “I know”, because I know in the Chinese culture family is supreme, and elders are respected simply because of their elder status. And in the few minutes of discussion that followed, I realized that while I do have issues with my mother, and it’s true that if she weren’t my mother I would not spend time with her at all, the truth is, she’s not evil. While she has hurt me deeply, nothing has been done out of malice. Her biggest sins, to me, are probably ignorance and lack of boundaries. Hardly worth carrying the grudge I carry. And wouldn’t payback be a bitch when my own girls decide not to have anything to do with me because of some transgression I’m probably committing right now, while doing the best I can. Which is all my mother has ever done. The best she can.
So Mom, I’m going to try harder to see you that way. I know you love me. I know you want the best for me. And I know you’ve always done what you thought was right. I don’t always agree with you, but maybe that’s OK.
Quite timely, I’d say, since we are due to visit her this weekend. We’ll see how well my actions back up my new found revelations.