I believe that one moment can change your life forever.
From the time I was a small child I remember going to church with my mom. It was something she prided herself in. Church was a reward. If she did the dishes or dusted the house, she would say, “ Now me get to go to church!” You see; my mom is mentally handicapped. This is a fact I never knew about her until I was about seven-years-old.
The pastors teenaged son was on the school bus with me one day and was telling everyone that my mom was a “tard” who drooled on herself and described my mom (in my eyes) as a horrible monster that should have been locked away, not attending church.
I wasn’t prepared for what he was saying. It was as if he kicked me in the chest, I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t say anything. All I could think was why? Why was he being so mean to me? He was the pastor’s son. Did he not hear what his own father taught us? Do onto others, as you would have them do onto you. He obviously didn’t. He changed my life.
From that day forward, I never looked at my mom or church the same. It was like eating the forbidden fruit and realizing I was naked the whole time. That moment taught me shame. It made me dislike church, a place where I always felt welcomed and safe. After that day, I looked at church and the congregation as hypocrites. I never went again. My relationship also changed with my mom. I wasn’t proud of her anymore. I was ashamed. I used to ask God why? Why me? What did I do to deserve this? I never understood.
I was thoroughly ashamed of her all throughout high school. If someone saw her and asked who she was I would lie and say she was my aunt or just ignore the questions about my mom all together. I never wanted to be weird or different from anyone else. I hated her. I hated my life. I wanted a mom with a mini-van, who was in the PTA, and stayed at home baking cookies. I realize that most people don’t have Susie Homemaker for a mom now that I am older but back then it sure seemed so.I felt cheated. I have battled those feelings of shame and resentfulness my whole life.
I never began to understand my mother until I was one myself. She wasn’t a normal mom. She was special. She wasn’t judgmental or critical of me. She never said anything when I didn’t want her to meet my friends. She knew the way I felt and didn’t care that I was ashamed of her. She loved me anyway. She was patient. She waited for me to make my way back to her. These days, I have moved forward in my life. My mother lives with my family and me and I see in her the person I have always wanted to be. She is happy loving, kind, beautiful, spiritual, hope-filled, and content. I strive to be more like her everyday. She never worries about petty everyday problems. She doesn’t care if her clothes are in style, or if she has gained five pounds. If she finds a wrinkle, she laughs about it. Its as though God just decided that she wouldn’t have to deal with this stuff and she doesn’t. She is special. She is blessed. And that one moment that changed my life brought upon me an appreciation and admiration for my mother. A quote from Henry Miller sums it up “Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realize it, than to accept life unquestioningly. Everything we shut our eyes to, every thing we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can be a source of beauty, joy and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has a vision to recognize it as such.” All of the reasons I decided my mother was not good enough were not my own. The reasons were not hers either. It was a moment on a school bus. I am sure the kid doesn’t even remember.