“The loveliest masterpiece of the heart of God is the heart of a mother.” ~ St. Therese of Lisieux
My mom is a naturally loving woman.
She gravitated toward becoming a nurse with her caring and nurturing personality, and catered to my father and us kids, rarely ever doing anything for herself.
My mom has a light and innocence to her. She has endless amounts of hugs and kisses and says “I love you” every chance she can. She has such a sense of humor and loves telling silly (and sometimes dirty) jokes.
Over the years though, instead of seeing the wonder in who she is, I took on the false perceptions of others and saw her through their lens. I thought that her being light-hearted and loving was weak. I thought that the fact she wanted to hug everyone was strange. I thought her jokes were lame.
As the years passed, my mom became unable to see her own worth. The essence of who she is chipped away day by day. The hugs and jokes stopped. I’d come over and she wouldn’t even get out of bed. She had given to everyone without ever nurturing herself until she had reached a point where there was nothing left.
When my parents split up, she was in a dark place mentally, emotionally, and physically. As the oldest child, I felt so much stress and pressure to do what I could to help her. At some point though, the pressure and stress on me became too much.
My anxiety was at an all-time high and although capable, my mom was no longer helping herself. I made the difficult decision to set boundaries. I knew my boundaries would be what would force my mom to get on her feet and figure life out for herself.
It’s been a hard road, but slowly, things have been turning around. Her jokes have returned and, even during COVID, she can’t resist giving me giant hugs.
The difference now is that I laugh at her jokes and enjoy every embrace we share. I let her talk when she speaks so passionately about something she recently saw or read about. Lately, other random things have been happening in her favor.
She called me recently to tell me about an exciting opportunity that came up and that she was going to accept. On the call, she said, “You know, Sara, I used to believe that giving to everyone was the right way to be. I realize now that was an old way of thinking. Taking care of yourself and your own needs first allows you to give your best self to others.”
With a shaky voice, she went on.
“I finally realize that I’m a good person and I deserve good things in life. I never knew that before, but Sara, you taught me that.”
We said our goodbyes; I hung up the phone and started sobbing.
To give my mom that gift after all that she’s been through and has given to me was humbling beyond words.
After all that I’ve learned from her throughout the years, this was the best lesson I could have ever taught my mom.