No greater lie was ever spoken about me. Eric and Dad are my two favorite men in all the world, but they share very few traits in common: they love God, they love me, they speak English, and they both have a driver’s license. Now, to name their differences would take much longer, so I will spare you that exhaustive list.
Though they are completely different, they both possess qualities I admire and I am thankful for the balance. Daddy is the teddy bear who is not a big hugger, and Eric is the field marshal who cannot get enough hugs. ~smile~
It is probably for the best that God did not send me a replica of my sweet daddy. Why? Because, though we would have tons of fun, lots of laughs, and plenty of Dairy Queen, we would probably not get much done. We would work during the day, but nighttime would be for relaxing; and, vacation days would be 100% for vacationing.
Apparently, unpleasant tasks have to be done, even on nights and weekends! Eric understands this… and so does my mom.
Rewind 20 Years
Eric and Mom are certainly not the same person, but they have a lot in common – at least, in my eyes. Little did I know all those years ago, living with Mom was preparing me more for my upcoming marriage than living with Dad! (Although, I do believe the special relationship I have with my Dad has benefitted my marriage. Being taught to respect my dad helped prepare me to be a respectful wife.)
Mom was the organized one. The tidy one. The morally strict one. The work now and play later one. She kept the house running, most of the time with little enthusiasm from Dad and me. Saturday morning was housecleaning time; and, as a lazy teenager, I would lie in bed as long as I could because I knew as soon as I got up, she would put me to work. (I know I am not the only kid who did this!)
During those years with Mom, I made plenty of comments, rolled my eyes a lot, and spent much of my time thinking she was unfair. In retrospect, it was I who was all too often unfair, immature, and self-seeking. If I could go back, I hope I would be better about the following:
- Grumbling and Complaining – Philippians 2:14 tells us to do all things without grumbling or disputing, and I should have posted this verse up in my room, car, bathroom, cubical, and Like many teens, I was a pro! Even if I kept it to myself, my heart grumbled. Why can we not just enjoy our Saturday? Why do we have to talk about school right now? Why can I not watch just one more episode? Why? Why? Why??? My attitude did nothing to improve the situations and simply drove a wedge between my mom and myself. Fighting her took more energy than completing the tasks she assigned. She was not unreasonable – in at least 95% of cases, what she asked me to do was completely realistic.
- Whining/Panicking – I am not a fan of whining. In fact, nothing seems to get my goat as fast as whining. As a teen, I may not have whined in a squeaky, high-pitched, drawn out way, but I whined by questioning. “But, why can’t I……?” “But, her mom is letting her….” “But, it is so embarrassing to be the only one who cannot….” Or, by making annoying comments. “I never get to….” “He is too a nice guy!” “I am fifteen years old!!!” If plans changed or for some reason and I could not see my boyfriend, I went into panic-mode. Quite dramatic and teenagery of me. Once I stood in the backyard and wailed because I could not go to the baseball field to meet my “man.” Full on, screaming sobs as if my life was over (and I probably felt like it was at the time ~smile~).
- Arguing – “You know what your problem is? You two are so much alike!” How I know Dad regretted that statement as soon as it came out of his mouth. This is the last phrase a mom and daughter want to hear when they are locked in combat. No, Mom and I were not too much alike – that has never been our problem. I was just like Dad with a hint of Mom just to make life interesting. Like most teenagers, I could not see past the next few days. College seemed to be a lifetime away. Marriage… wow, another lifetime away. During those early teen years, I felt like I would never gain any independence. Had I realized those years would fly by in a millisecond, I might not have wasted so much time arguing with my mom over boys and… well… boys. That was the primary content of our arguments. Some days Mom may have even wondered if she was going to make it to my twentieth birthday.
- Disregarding – As I get older, my parents get smarter. It is amazing how two people who knew nothing about life seventeen years ago know so much about it now. Mom had plenty of good advice, but I was too busy pushing against her to reflect on it and accept it. Mom and I did have some good times – plenty of good times. And, we had some extremely stressful times. In my determination to get what I wanted, I rolled my eyes at many of her exhortations – viewing her as someone who did not understand me and did not want me to have fun or experience life. I wonder how much heartache I could have avoided if I had shut up for a minute, listened to her, and put her life experience and lessons she learned into practice.
- Misunderstanding – As it turns out, Mom and Dad were smart all along and I was the childish goofball who thought she had it all figured out. Because I looked at my mom’s decisions and recommendations through selfish and naive eyes, I misunderstood her intentions repeatedly. She was motivated by love all those times she said, “No.” If I had only realized how scared she was for me, how much potential she saw in me, and how she could see my future slipping away.
A couple of years ago, I heard the mom of a pre-teen daughter use the all too familiar phrase, “Clean up that attitude!” It made my heart smile – so much so that I called my mom and we shared a laugh together. Young ladies everywhere… if you have a mom who is brave enough to tell you, “No,” and always available for a hug even after dealing with loads of teenage drama, you are blessed indeed. ~smile~
I Learned My Lesson, Or…
When I married at the ripe, old age of twenty-two, I thought of myself as an adult. No longer that sassy, foolish child who questioned everything my mom said. A mature, married woman was I. Well…
Many days I have complained and grumbled in my marriage – sometimes to Eric and sometimes to God. I still hate whining, but I have certainly done my share of panicking over situations that did not warrant it. Have I argued with Eric? Plenty. And, he has argued with me. Some days I argue with him and he does not argue back. That is not as much fun. ~smile~ Often I have disregarded his thoughts and ideas, assuming he was only looking out for his best interest. Have I misunderstood him? Oh, yes.
Perhaps I did not learn as much from my teenage years as I originally thought. I certainly repeated many of the same mistakes. When I compare the two seasons of my life – teen years and married years – one word stands out in my mind: stubbornness.
Many of my problems with my mom and with Eric are rooted in my stubbornness – my determination to see the world through my eyes without daring to look through theirs. Perhaps if I had been more flexible and willing to see their points of view, I would have spent less time arguing, grumbling, and disregarding, and more time learning, understanding, and bonding.
Mom, on your birthday I wish to apologize once again for all the headaches and heartaches. All the bad moods and attitudes. All the sarcastic remarks. All the battles. Then again, maybe they were good for us and helped us grow. I am glad we survived, that you never gave up on me, always loved me, and that we can be friends.
As for you, Eric… I am a work in progress. Thank you for taking this journey with me. ~smile~
What has stubbornness cost you in your relationships?