This episode of Radiolab really opened my eyes and heart to a subject that I’d let trouble me for years; how responsible was my mother for my raising?
There were obvious flaws in her parenting methods, but I had taken so much of what she did, or more precisely, didn’t do, as a personal affront. How could she hate me so much? How could she let these things happen to me or inflict them herself?
I carried this overwhelming anger, resentment and righteousness around with me for nearly 20 years, much to the detriment of mine and mother’s relationship. I thought forgiveness meant “letting it go,” but that didn’t feel complete, it didn’t feel resolved. I knew expecting her to admit wrongfulness or apologize was fruitless, so I let it stagnate.
Then I heard this episode and suddenly it dawned on me that my mother had done the best she could with what she had. Sure, I’d expected more from her and there were certainly things I did differently as a parent, but the way I was raised was relatively calm and domesticated compared to her upbringing. She didn’t protect me from everything, but she did protect me from some much worse things.
The changes my mother made as a parent were enough to inspire me to continue that path of betterment, and because of my efforts (and complete lack of perfection) my children will be much better people and parents. I realized that by focusing on my mother’s failures for so long, all I’d managed to do was focus on my own. I was perpetuating the exact patterns I never wanted in my life.
So I called my mother. And I thanked her. And I truly felt that gratitude, for what she’d done, for the efforts she’d made, for the difference her actions were making in my children’s lives. And I cried. And she cried. So much weight was lifted off my shoulders. This angst I’d been carrying was suddenly gone. I’d not only forgiven my mother, I’d forgiven myself.
Listen and be inspired.