Every once in a while my mom will pick up the phone to find me on the other end saying, “I owe you an apology.”
Her response is usually a stammering, “Oh….uh….okay……..?”
One such conversation happened a couple years ago – it was in the early days of The Miracle Journal, and things were opening up inside of me in ways that I hadn’t expected. I was writing about my dad and the ways that I still hurt, but also the ways that I was beginning to forgive both myself and him.
The one person I was still having trouble forgiving was my mom – I had been SO angry at her for what happened with my dad. I was angry that in the face of his craziness, she didn’t protect me better. Isn’t that what a Mama Bear is supposed to do?
It was a lot of years before I realized that my dad was playing an even greater mind-fuck on her than he was on me. But even after figuring that out, I was still angry. Shouldn’t I have been important enough to her that she could overcome her own fears and stand up to him?
And then one evening while sitting in the bathtub, it hit me like a bolt out of the sky – she had.
In her own quiet way, my mom was protecting me fiercely.
When I was little, my dad threatened that if she ever left him, he would take me and she would never see me again. It wasn’t an idle threat – we both know he could have pulled strings and manipulated the system to make that happen.
So my mom did the next best thing – she did everything she could to protect me from within the house.
Rather than saving herself, she stayed and she protected me. No, she couldn’t stop him from drinking or being abusive. But once he made it clear what he was capable of, I don’t recall her ever leaving me alone with him again when he’d been drinking.
She managed to get him to think it was his idea to send me to boarding school. It wasn’t until many years later that she told me it was the best way she could think of to get me out from under his roof.
She kept me safe, often to her own detriment. And while I wish she hadn’t had to experience such pain to do it, these are the actions of a fierce Mama Bear. There is no repayment big enough for that debt of gratitude.
As the realization washed over me that night in the tub, I wept. I realized how much anger I had directed at her that she didn’t deserve. And the reason I directed it at her was because she was the only person in my world who it was safe to be angry at… because no matter what I did or said, she wasn’t going to leave me or punish me.
I called and I said, “Mom, I owe you an apology.” The least I could do was share the release of that anger with her in the moment it was happening.
She cried. I cried even more.
I don’t know for sure that she needed to hear the words, but I know for sure that I needed to say them.
This week I have been reminded once again how blessed I am to have this mother.
I believe that I was put on this earth to learn some very particular lessons, and the best way to do that was by having the father that I did. But God took mercy on me and said, “If she’s taking on that father, I will give her this mother to ease the journey.”
Lest it sound like I am grateful for her just in comparison to my father, it is so much more. My mother teaches me true kindness and empathy every day. She makes me laugh more than any other person I know. When I need someone to help me fix things, she does that; but when I need someone to just listen and not fix, she does that too. She believes in me completely. She is wise and intuitive. So many of the best parts of me are direct reflections of her spirit and the things she has taught me by example.
She still calls me her “baby” and she’s right – I will always, always be her Baby Bear.
I am blessed beyond words.
Mom, I love you.
Thank you for being my Mama Bear.