I recently shared some stories about my kids and me, in other words me as Mom. Today’s story is about my Mom and me.
I won’t bother you with the details of my childhood except to know my parents split up when I was pre-school. It wasn’t your typical separation but it left my mom having to go to work. Even though my dad gave her money for us, he transitioned after a few short years leaving my mom as sole provider for my brother and me.
I share that information so you know my mom worked—back in the 50s when very few women worked outside the home. Those who did earned way less money than their male counterparts in the same positions. So, to keep the house and provide all we needed my mom worked all the time.
Let me explain. She worked six days a week plus had to go back to close the office after coming home for dinner. And she also had to take calls at night from the sales people in the field.
Here is what I missed, being a typical kid focused on me and just me…
My mom worked at the office all day into the night. When she came home to the dinner I made (and often overcooked because I didn’t pay attention) she relaxed by the television and read the newspaper. We watched good family shows like Sing Along With Mitch and Lawrence Welk. So, in a sense we were doing something together because we interacted during the shows.
[Note: being in the same room watching a movie or television show without interacting with one another does not constitute time together. You can go to a restaurant and do that with all the strangers in the place, right? No difference.]
On my mom’s day off she cleaned the house and did the laundry. She cooked meals that we could then serve as left-overs for the week.
AND she spent her every spare moment with me. Note that fact.
My nom worked all the time. When she relaxed she always did it with me.
We played board games and croquet and badminton. We went into the city to museums (even though she was terrified of driving on the parkway). She drove me to Hebrew School (because I desperately wanted to go and never realized what a hardship paying that Temple membership was for her). My mom drove me to my clarinet lessons and came to all my performances—she even took off work to come see me “star” in Oklahoma during the day in our school production.
What my mom could not do was say, “I love you.” She could not hug me. And she periodically told me how glad she was that I never had any problems because she could not have dealt with them.
I grew up thinking my mom didn’t love me because for me “love” is hearing the words, “I love you” and getting hugs. She never experienced either growing up.
Talk about wearing blinders!
Looking back through the eyes of motherhood I see that my mom could not possibly have loved me more than she did—no way. But I never knew that growing up or even through much of my adult years. I failed to see her definition of love differed from mine.
What do you need to know you feel loved?
Make time to figure it out in detail then tell the people in your world your definition of love. AND ask them to let you know what they need to feel loved. If those people really do matter to you decide whether or not you can show them love in a way that lets them know how deeply you love them and how much you care.
The sad truth is many people are absolutely cherished by their partners, their parents, their kids and even their friends. However, since they define love differently from the other people in their lives they often wind up feeling unloved, depressed—and maybe even suicidal.
All that said, the bottom line is you alone are responsible for loving you. And that is a subject for another time.
Tomorrow I will tell you how my mom and I healed our relationship.