When I was in 3rd grade, there was a little girl who picked on me. I had never really experienced anything like that. So I told my mom and asked for help. My mom told me that the little girl was jealous and to ignore her. I was pretty sure this wasn’t the case, as this girl had the cutest clothes and the most friends. The conversation with mom ended with me feeling even more confused and alone. The experience that year pretty much haunted me all the way through elementary, middle and high school. It may even be the root of my passion for fashion, as at the time, I convinced myself it was because my clothes and I were not “good enough” to be loved. As I grew older, I harbored a lot of anger at my mom for not giving me something more than “jealous” to resolve the issue.
Fast Forward to this week. As I am driving with my son, he discloses that he was called stupid by some boys. My heart sunk and my throat constricted and I remembered the pain I felt in 3rd grade. I was so upset at the thought of him feeling the same pain. I felt a sense of panic and an overwhelming obligation to come up with something better than “jealous”. We had a long talk, and I hope I convinced him that his self worth should never be tied to the words of those who haven’t taken the time to get to know him.
As I had time to think about our conversation, I realized I was completely unprepared to hear him confess that he was having his feelings hurt. As parents, though we recognize our children’s flaws, we see them through the eyes of someone who loves them no matter what. It is difficult to consider that someone else cannot appreciate all that we love about our child and my sole concern was that he not believe the hurtful words that were said to him. I am sure my mother felt the same feelings when I disclosed what was being said to me. While her words aren’t what I believed I needed to hear at the time, they came from the same loving place that my words to my son came this week.
So Mom, I apologize for all the years I was angry that all you gave me to work with was “jealous”. As I travel through this journey of motherhood, I am struck at how easy it has become to understand you. I am blown away, because I spent my teens and 20′s convincing myself that I would never figure you out. I guess you could say that aside from the love I feel for my boys, the greatest gift of motherhood has been to finally feel how much YOU love me.