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Recently, things have not been going the greatest with my mother. On my Christmas vacation home, we had a series of fights about little things. My mom wanted to just drop the issues, but I wanted to solve them for the long term. It lead to a conversation where she felt I wouldn’t just let things be and I felt she wouldn’t get serious! However, eventually, she did sit down with me to discuss our issues. After about ten hours of discussion, we finally came to a list of resolutions!
One of these issues was that she liked taking pictures randomly while I liked having her focus. It’s important to me to spend quality time with someone I love, which to me implies giving each other our full attention. After a bit of back and forth, we came to a resolution to discuss and agree on a period during which I would happily pose for photos and a period where we would do things together. It seemed like a logical and wonderful solution, right? Or so I thought.
The very next day, we went to a ranch for a horseback riding lesson. I was excited that we were making progress in our relationship and working out our issues! As we arrived at the ranch, I eagerly discussed with my mom the logistics of the picture taking and settled on the last 5 minutes of the lesson. “Great!” I thought, “I’ll hold up my end of the bargain by specifically asking the wrangler to allow us time to take pictures at the end”. I did just that.
The ride started out great. The lady taught me how to ride on an English saddle, how to lead the horse, and how to post while trotting. I was having a great time! Happy that I was making progress, I wanted to share my thrills of success with my mom! As I rounded a corner, I looked for her, to give her a smile and a wave.
However, as I spotted her, I noticed that she wasn’t even watching me! She was talking to another lady in what seems like relatively shallow conversation. I felt disappointed at the complete lack of interest. Then, a few rounds later, I looked for her again hoping that the conversation’s finished by now. However, instead of a seeing a happy face smiling at me, I saw a camera. SNAP!!
I was furious. Had the endless hours of talking been for nothing? As I spoke with my mom, she didn’t seem the least bit sorry! A lot of excuses such as “It was only one picture!” or “I need to see you on the horse naturally!” kept coming up. Does she not know that I am giving her time and trying to do the best I can to make it work? The more she talked, the more unappreciated I felt and the more angry I got. As she started talking to me in a tone that portrayed complete defiance, I exited the car as she was driving. As I hit the curb, I decided to take a taxi back to New York on my own, yelling back that I’m never talking to her again.
Of course, I did talk to her afterwards, but remained emotionally distant. Despite anything that’s happened, I still loved her. I wanted to take care of her and have her be okay, but I simply wasn’t able to stand the constant disturbance of my emotional equilibrium and told her as much.
That was about a month ago. Not a day passed where this turn of events hasn’t bothered me. Logically, it seems to make sense. If someone keeps doing things that make you uncomfortable, should you not distance yourself so that you don’t get hurt? Besides, I felt that it was my mom who wanted to talk to me, not the other way around. I didn’t really see a lot of value in my interactions with her. Should she not be the one making more of an effort? However, no matter how I justified it, it just didn’t feel right!
Subconsciously, I knew that she did have a lot of value to me! I just couldn’t quite place my finger on it. Something feels missing! “What do I gain by interacting with her?” I asked myself over and over. There must be something! Why do I feel so discomforted not talking to her for a long period of time? I thought about it more and more, not quite grasping the reason for the nagging feeling of having made a mistake.
Then last night, it struck me. I was in a great mood having just talked to my girlfriend, and thought about what a motivating effect she had on me. It suddenly occurred to me that there was a strong correlation between how often I talked to my mom and how motivated I was! I could remember the period that I spoke with her every day; I had a strong sense of purpose and drive. As my contact with her dimmed and our emotional connection weakened, I could remember wondering what the point of life was and feeling a general sense of loneliness.
I could also remember the various ways she has tried to try to cut back on the things that annoyed me and doing more of the things I wanted. In my anger, I’d missed all the things she’s done for me out of her own free will! It occurred to me that through her actions, it is clear that her intentions are good! It’s just the expression of her love that isn’t quite the expression I was looking for. Clearly, she has been trying her best to make it work! Realizing this, and remembering how hurt she looked when I told her I would never talked to her again, I felt motivated to try again! After all, how can two people who really care about each other and who want to make it work possibly fail?
At about 1:30am last night, I saw my mom on skype and decided to give her a call, about 4:30am her time (our family has some very strange sleeping schedules!) As we talked and focused on positive things, I could already feel our relationship improving. There were no hard feelings; just two people acknowledging that they cared for each other.
As the hours went by and we shared our experiences, it was clear that we were growing closer than ever before. Then, my mother said something that made me realize her true value to me.
She’d been talking about how her current boyfriend seems to have no drive and complain a lot. She then said, “It’s like two kids falling down. They’re both hurt, but if one of them cries while the other one gets up and keeps going, the one that keeps going will get a lot more done. What’s the point of sitting there and crying when you have to go and do it later anyway?” Wow! What a remarkable piece of wisdom! This is one of simplest philosophies I have tried to follow in my life. It may have been responsible for more of my accomplishments than any other piece of advice – and it’s from my mom!
Whether consciously spoken or not, my mom has always expressed this philosophy and I have been the better for it. She may not even be aware of the positive influences she has exerted, but it is the greatest gift she could have given me! How many more of these gems did I gain from her? How many more are waiting to be discovered?
It made me realize that parents can and do shape their children in ways that neither realizes. Learning about my parents is like learning about myself! Additionally, it gives me the perspective of being part of a greater whole – one in a chain of human beings spanning the continum of time. Is it any wonder that I felt lonely not connecting as part of this chain?
What is the value of speaking with my mother?
A sense of self.
A sense of purpose.
A sense of meaning.
Is there anything more valuable?
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