How can you miss something you never had?

The elevator doors opened and a co-worker stepped in chatting on her cell phone.  Upon entering she said, “Ok, I’m at work now, I should go.”  Hanging up, she looked over and said, “That was my Mom, we talk every morning.  Even though she’s retired – she still calls me on my way to work.”  The look of love on her face caused everyone in the elevator to say how wonderful we thought it was.  It made me both smile and made my heart hurt at the exact same time.

My mother passed away several years ago and sadly we never had the, “call each other all the time” kind of relationship.  Don’t get me wrong – I would have loved that, and I believe she would have too, but unfortunately, we didn’t.  Upon becoming an adult, I made choices she didn’t like, she made comments I didn’t like, and we just weren’t close.  Looking back, I believe we each had “baggage” from life events and neither one of us were interested in unpacking it.  Whether it was we wouldn’t, couldn’t or didn’t know how, I’m not sure; but every time I hear of a Mother/Daughter get -together or see the wonderful pictures and comments on social media, there’s a tiny tug at my heart.

As a mother, I try to stay in tune with the boys and ask them when they seem “off”.  I want to make sure they are ok. I remind them every now and then that I’m here if they need to discuss things or just need a listening ear.  I really wish I would have taken the time to do that with my Mom.  I wish I would have been able to stand back and see her as a person – not just as the role she played as my mother.  Maybe doing that would have caused me to realize she was a woman with hopes and dreams, life experiences that caused joy and pain, and that there was so much more to her than what I knew.  I remember one particular conversation she and I had.  After leaving her house, while driving home I said to my husband, “man, she has issues”.  I can’t help but wonder, had I picked up the phone and asked her what those issues were if we could have started some dialogue that would have brought some of those issues to the surface; maybe we could have begun the healing process and just maybe we would have grown closer instead of farther apart.  It wasn’t like we fought constantly or that we were miserable when we were around each other, it’s more like we had this respectful dysfunction.  Growing up I was taught not to question her and that spilled over into adulthood.  I never learned how to get past that, and maybe I would have never been able to get past the walls she built around her heart, but I can’t help but wish I would have tried.

I can’t change my relationship with my Mom, but I most definitely, have learned from it.  I’ve learned in order to be a real friend, an authentic person, and the best Mom I can be, I had to dig deep into the messy bits of my life.  I had to take each piece that was in my baggage, grab it with both hands, shake it out and decide if it was worth keeping.  If it was, it needed to be ironed, carefully folded, and put where it belonged; and if it wasn’t, it had to be thrown away in the trash, on garbage day – never to be seen again.  It was time-consuming, it was extremely difficult, but it was worth every tear shed while going through it, because now my baggage consists of my life’s lessons, in an acceptable suitcase that needs to be kept to help others, instead of the full, 7-piece matching set that I started with.  If you’ve never done it, it’s worth a self-evaluation to make sure that the baggage you’re carrying isn’t just excess and only weighing you down.

Therefore confess your offenses to one another, that you may be healed and restored.  The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.                                                                                      - James 5:16


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