My Life in Letters [The Early Years Pt. 2]

Dear Laing,

Mothers, they are the world’s best-loved people. I am sure you’ll agree with me on that. Many of us, barely remember Father’s Day but it’s heresy to not to shower our mothers with gifts on Mother’s Day. In Jamaica one could argue that this over adulation of our mothers is well deserved since many have been doing double duty as both ‘mommy and daddy’. I am a living testimony of the good job that, at least, one of them has done. This might sound like I am blowing my own trumpet but the fact is, it’s the truth.

 

If you need to be further convinced, simply check out how many songs have been done in tribute to the undying devotion of a mother’s love. I am no expert but these songs must have a turnover of, at least, one per year.

 

Yet as much as I loooove my mother, there are times – and I might have to suffer years of cussing for saying this, but here goes- when I WISHED she would just butt out; leave me alone; give me a break. How else can I say it ‘Stop trying to run mi life!!!’ There, I’ve said it. Now ‘cuss mi all yuh want’.

 

Lets be honest, our mothers are notorious for meddling in our lives even when you are well past the age of 18!. What is especially aggravating are the times when you did not ask for the advice (meddling). ‘Honey I don’t like that boy’. ‘He’s not the one for you’. ‘I don’t like the friends you hang out with’. And the advice goes on and on and on and on… No area of your life is sacred: your clothes, your hairstyle, the parties you go to, even the way you walk and talk! Their opinions about your life, literally gnaws at your every decision. You never feel free to make a decision without wondering if your mother was right or if you should have taken her advice or I wonder how she would react to this particular decision. Our mothers are like a spoilt and tyrannical Greek god, threatening to punish us for not acceding, humbly and graciously, to their commands.

 

Just recently my mother and I ‘exchanged words’ on how I should dress when I am at home. She argued that I needed to always be well groomed whenever I’m at home. She was tired of seeing me looking like a farmer in the yard. Don’t get me wrong – I like to look good! After all, I am a woman. But I also like to feel comfortable. I think I have a right to dress how I want in the privacy of my home. I hold dearly to my right to wear baggy clothes, bed-hair and look generally unkempt – when at home. Who cares what visitors might think; they come at their own risk.

 

Needless to say, I stuck to my principles and kept my ‘home style’. I wished! She won. Of course I only surrendered to keep the peace.

 

The funny thing is that though we might rant and rave against our mother’s advice, nine times out of ten, they are always right. My problem is not admitting to this fact but what I dread are those four words ‘I told you so’. Thankfully my mother does not have a ‘I told you so’ dance similar to the actress who play’s Grace’s mom on the popular tv sitcom ‘Will and Grace’. However it matters very little how the ‘I told you so’ delivered. The effect is always the same; like a sharp knife piercing through the heart. Every ‘If you had only listened to me’ produces in me the urge to say ‘I wish my mother would disappear. I wish my mother would just disappear!’

 

Nothing crushes the human spirit more than someone constantly reminding of the mistakes you have made. Many of our mothers have mastered the art. They seem to delight in rubbing our faces in our own vomit. They habitually defend their vicious behaviour by pleading that they only did it out of love for us, their dear and precious children. And in some sick and twisted sense, they might actually think that they are helping us.

 

If this is the case then let me help you (mothers) to mend your erroneous assumptions: you are not!!! You have done the opposite by creating resentment and distrust between you and children. The need to pound us with our mistakes, serves only to intensify the inherent love-hate relationship that mothers share with their children. You might wonder why you are not the first person yourchild consults when he/she is agonizing over a decision he/she has to make? Why are they filled with excitement to tell you their achievements but express trepidation at expressing their failures? Or why would they rather spend Christmas or other ‘traditionally’ family holidays with their friends and not with you? The answer is obvious but I guess only our mothers have not seen the light. In that case let the enlightenment begin.

 

Mothers we, your children, need the space to make our own mistakes; the space to learn from those mistakes; most importantly we need the space to enjoy your love without being in fear of ‘I told you so’.

Love Always,

Anika

(2005)

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