Listen

It’s ironic that I get to be in a show this weekend called Listen To Your Mother, because I didn’t. I mean, on some things I did. I didn’t play on the freeway, or get out of the shower without rinsing the shampoo out of my hair. I listened to her on the mundane things that don’t really change anyone’s life,( besides that whole playing on the freeway thing, that could have been a life-changer.)

But when it kind of mattered, I rebelled. Even when I didn’t know what I was doing or saying, other than it was the opposite of what she wanted for me. Or what she had chosen for herself.

We used to drive past a sex-toy shop on Sprague multiple times a week. From the time it was approaching us on the right side of the street, until we were safely past it, my mother would say, “Jesus is Lord, Jesus is Lord” or “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus”. I didn’t know anything about this store, other than it had a kitty wearing a boa on the sign, and my mother was vehemently against it. I remember leaning over to my sister on more than one occasion when this was happening and whispering, “When I grow up, I’m gonna work there.” ( I did not keep this vow.)

I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup until I was 14, so I bought the darkest lipgloss you can find and used it as an all-over makeup stick. My eyelids were tacky for all of fourth grade. But glossy! With a hint of sparkle.

I was only allowed to listen to Christian music growing up, so my friends snuck me mix tapes of New Kids On The Block, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston (how I longed to dance with somebody!), and Bryan Adams. These mix tapes were labeled Praise & Worship so that I wouldn’t get caught. I convinced my mom that M.C. Hammer was a pastor & teaching his congregation that they needed to pray just to make it today & for some reason, she believed me.

I had a million tiny rebellions in my 18 years at home. Some as innocent as the examples above, some not- hitch hiking in a mini skirt, among other things.  I thought that I was winning the war on parental terrorism. But now, I’m a Mommy. And I wish I had listened more. To my mom, yes, but also to myself. I spent so much time doing the opposite of what she wanted, that I didn’t figure out what I wanted. I spent my youth proving that I am not her, instead of proving who I really am.

We are different, my mother and I. We believe different things, go to different churches, see the world as different places. I no longer have to prove anything. I am not a child. But, I am her child still. And sometimes, I lay down my pride for long enough to call my Mother, and just listen.

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7 thoughts on “Listen

  1. I love this. One of the everyday redemptions is that we get to befriend our mothers… I had lots of little rebellions, too and when I think of the venemous things I said… Ugh. But her forgiveness has been so easy – like she forgave me way before I asked for it. I hope my grace is like that with my daughter. Thank you for this. Moms rock.

    Also cannot WAIT TO SEE YOU AT THE SHOW! Spokane doesn’t even know how lucky it is!!

  2. This is beautiful and so true on the way we spend our time focusing on what we don’t want to be that sometimes we end up becoming it. Your piece at the show is a lovely description of what Motherhood really is and I’m excited to hear you read it one more time!

  3. It’s in the middle of your children’s childhood that you began to realize you are starting to repeat your Mothers words. The very words you vowed you would never say come tumbling out before you can stop them. You also begin to realize that your Mom, no matter how wrong she was then, was right. I think back to all the things I didn’t listen to, only now I wish I had. When your mom passes away at too young an age, you don’t get the opportunity to listen. The conversations you should have had, could have had are no longer available. I try to recall what she would have said, or thought, or done and sometimes I can. Life situations don’t happen all at once. You don’t become an adult, a mom or a Gramma all at the same time. It’s these lifetime events that make you ask some questions that only your mom can answer. It’s her wisdom that you are seeking, her understanding, her love. Even though I’m a Mom, Gramma, Aunt and have gained wisdom from some beautiful older women. I miss my mom.
    So as Mother’s Day approaches I will enjoy my children and some I have adopted along the way. I will remember my Mom and all she had to say to make me who I am today.

  4. I love you Jess. So glad to be your Mom, and now that you are an adult and a Mommy too, so glad for your forgiveness, love and friendship. As many mistakes as I made, it was always with a desire to raise you right, to love and protect you and your siblings. I wish I had done better, but then, I think any parent who really cares wishes they had. Thank God for grace and forgiveness and second chances. So proud of you and who you are and try to be as a Mom. I know that your parenting will outshine mine. Keep on keeping on. Do your best and let grace cover the rest! Love, Mom

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