My mom is a very simple woman. She doesn’t dress fancy, doesn’t even shop, doesn’t have hobbies. The thing is, I don’t think she was always like this. In fact, I know she wasn’t. Every couple years at a wedding or something, I’ll hear snippets of stories from her college roommates/friends about when she wore miniskirts and when she’d like to go dancing. Somewhere along the way, it faded, most definitely caused by her responsibility to her family and the family she was creating with my dad… me and my sister. But I know the vibrant, talkative, bright-eyed woman is still there.
In recent years I’ve had an ongoing issue with my mom.
My mom has dedicated so much of her life to raising me and my sister. When she had me, her brain and her heart were re-wired to always think of us, save for us, spend for us, provide for us first and foremost. But I am no longer the infant, the 9-yr old, the college student needing everything in the world from her. I’m always telling her, she has nothing to provide for me anymore. I haven’t needed her money for awhile. I live far away, on my own.. It’s time for her to return her life to her life. Whenever I bring this up, she seems so confused, almost lost, like she doesn’t know what she could do. I tell her to spend money on herself, explore what she wants, and that she no longer needs to consider me anymore. She dedicated a great portion of her life to me, and I want her to go back to what it was like before I took over. But this is so difficult for her to change, and I realized, this isn’t her being stubborn, but actually, this is just how much she loves me. As a mother, it is now hard-wired in her to provide for her son and family. There is no other life, and even if there was, she doesn’t want it back. She lives a completely selfless life now. She finds purpose in giving to me, and my telling her it’s no longer necessary is actually sad to her, not liberating.
This is something I feel is probably very common in my parent’s generation. They grew up in a time when they weren’t allowed to think of their own dreams, their dream was just to start a family and create a better life for their offspring. It was a selfless time because there weren’t the luxuries and freedoms that I and our generation grew up with (and somewhat takes for granted). Think about how “lost” and “troubled” we are in our teens and twenties. Our parents went through the same thoughts and emotions, on top of the world and cultural issues of the time, immigrating, starting a new life. We can’t even come close to comprehending what they endured.
So perhaps it’s not that she doesn’t want to return to a past life and mentality… it’s just that she doesn’t even know how to. It was too long ago, too different, literally another life. How do you return to something that essentially doesn’t exist anymore.
So I’ve eased up on pushing her. Now it’s not about returning to the old, but starting something new. I buy her new shoes and clothes since she won’t get it for herself, I encourage her to try new things, and do things for herself, but in the meantime… yes I’d love to have some fruit cut for me, yes I’m keeping warm when I sleep, yes I’ll take this $50 bill. I love you mom and everything you’ve done for me, starting even before I was alive.
Whenever I visit home, my mom tries to give me as much space as I continue to do work out of my bedroom. Every few hours she knocks and walks in w/ some type of cut fruit, this is all she can really contribute now, and I love it.