Mother’s Day is a day of regret for me, as I didn’t take the time to get to know my Mom when she was still alive. She died in 1992, and to cope with her passing and the growing realization that I’ve been a self-centered boob up to that moment I made a vow: I would try to live according to her best qualities. Mom was kind, creative, and generous. She accepted situations and mistakes as learning experiences. She was intelligent and supportive, and a dedicated educator. It was only in hindsight, as I recalled various stories from my friends and relatives, that I realized that these qualities had been there for my edification, but I’d never appreciated them. This makes me incredibly sad; by passing her values forward, I try to be a better son and a better person.
Although the memory is painful, I try not to beat myself up over it. I was a very sensitive kid, I realize now, and living in a foreign country (Taiwan) was more stressful for me than I think I knew at the time. I lived in a kind of protective bubble where I didn’t have to feel like I was a stranger in a strange land, where I could tune-out everything else and be by myself. It just occurred to me, as I type on my iPad in my empty house, that I’m still living in that bubble. I’ve punched a few new holes in it, but the feeling of being an outsider has never really gone away; communication with people outside the bubble remains muffled and distant. On the other hand, the bubble may have been just part of my personality, not a reaction to the environment. I share a personality profile with the so-called INFP type, and as youths we’re a really moody bunch. A different personality in the same situation might have reached out and enjoyed the strangeness of Asia, living a more vibrant life. That certainly wasn’t me!
But I digress; the point is that I try to be as my mother would be, and though our interests and approaches to life are different, I think the core desire to…well, I’m not sure what that shared desire is. Mom cared about me in a way that I never returned as an adult, and I think what I’m trying to do is care about people in the same way. Not judging, but supporting. With generosity. Because it’s the right thing to do, and it puts positive energy into the world. I learned these lessons too late to share them with Mom, to appreciate her love and return it in kind. So I keep trying, in other venues and in aspects of my work, to keep that spirit alive. I can only hope that Mom would have approved. I think we would have had a good time talking about it.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! I miss you so much.