I am in Hawai'i for a friend's wedding and during some downtime during the four-day celebration, I cohosted an intimate gathering for a different friend who is pregnant. We wanted to mark this special, sacred time in her life.
The guests were to bring a written reflection or a poem on motherhood. (I personally loved that two people wrote haikus.) After we all showered her with thoughts, the guest of honor had a surprise of her own: a question for us. What have we appreciated about our mothers?
This editorial is about three reflections that came to mind.
Open communication has always been important to my mother since she was not able to have this with her mother. My mom always made it known that we could always come to her, no matter what happened or no matter the question. I absolutely love that my mother has always made known this desire to us. Now as I grow older, I see how it has encouraged and fostered a real friendship, even when open communication can lend itself to hearing sometimes painful things about our relationship.
My mother has always prayed for her daughters. I think I learned about this somewhat during the time our relationship went through a season of tension years ago. While I wasn't able to disclose things that she may have desired, I was able to still have open communication by sharing things that I could and in that way still be communicative. "Mom, could you pray for me about _______?" Prayer kept our friendship flickering as I grew. I cherished those prayers deeply and still do since it is still an active part of our relationship.
That night of the celebration, I shared with the friends another reflection on prayer: I believe mothers' prayers are special and sacred and that God hears them differently than fathers' prayers.
I have appreciated that my mother can own her issues to the extent that she is aware of them. She has such a beautiful, pure heart. I am not idealizing here when I say "pure." Pure does not mean perfect. Pure means that her motivations aren't conniving. My mother takes responsibility for her actions and always desires to.
On a recent trip back to Chicago, I paid a visit to my former counselor of seven years. We were catching up, and then she said, "You have the ability to own your wrongs. That is rare and a gift, Jessica. I see too many people not able to because they're trying to be perfect." I was touched to hear her say this. While this quality does feel as innate to me as my heart does, I am aware that my reality may not be reality. She shared it was a beautiful quality in me. Reflecting here, I can only think it is very much impart because it came from a heart that helped birth mine.
In our relationship, I am grateful that when I have brought things up (perhaps a "confrontation" by sheer defintion of the word), she has an openness and freedom that enables her to take responsibility for what may be hers and more or less not take responsibility for what is not hers, all while having a posture of openness (there it is again) and humility. I love that about my mother, and once again, it feeds into the very first thing I shared about open communication above.
In short, my mother is confident in who she is and where she places her identity (which is in the Risen Lord and nowhere else). She does not relinquish her worth to "how well" she does something, what others "think" of her, or to her "wardrobe." I love my mother for all of who she is.
One note: open communication is not the same as enmeshment. Dislosing things that may be appropriate for a girlfriend rather than a daughter is not simply being communicative, even when done in innocence. The cultivation of being open is synonymous with accepting difference and thinking beyond one's own reality to have a larger sense of a reality that can encompass another's. Both kinds of orientation and engagement have been familiar in our relationship.