My mom looked up at me one day and her eyes were filled with insecurities. She was looking at me for answers with regard to caring for my grandmother. And I remember thinking to myself, “How can my mother not know what to do? She’s my mother.” and it dawned on me – my mother is exactly like me, like anyone else, she just happens to have lived on this earth longer than I have. The only reason why my mother seemed so confident when looking over my homework when I was younger, or when advising about boys and their hidden agendas (no offense guys), was because she had done it before. The only reason why my mother could always show my brother and I the positives in life was because she had already lived through and had overcome the negatives. My mother had “Been there. Done that.” But my mother never had to make decisions about her own mother’s care and well being before. I know for sure that new territory was and is always scary for me and it is scary for my mother too. My mother and I are mirror images of each other in more ways than one.
I can’t imagine the strength it must have taken for my mother, any mother, to look at her younger child for guidance; to admit that she needed help; and to trust in her daughter to give that to her. I won’t lie, there were times when I thought to myself that I too need someone to go to for help when it comes to the caring of my grandmother. I am so used to going to my mother that for a while I was upset that she took that away from me. Where was my rock, my foundation, my guiding force in life to help me make the tough decisions? And then I looked inward. I remembered in the faith I have in my instincts and I trusted in my husband for support while I sorted out what to do next. I trusted in the lessons my mother and grandmother and friends and family had already taught me – not afraid to ask anyone I held dear to me for guidance and I focused on what I would want if I were in my grandmother’s shoes.
We are all, on a global level, mirror images of each other because we are the same person. We just choose to ignore the obvious signs. If only we could start to see ourselves in others, maybe we would be able to relieve ourselves, and others, of that desire to be perfect – to know it all. What a burden it is to feel like you are not allowed to fail, to be unsure, to doubt yourself or others, to doubt the questions you have or even to ask for help. While I can appreciate the importance of standing strong in your own confidence, there comes a time when we all need to realize that we are the same and it is okay to stumble during our journey because everyone stumbles. We may not express our confidences or insecurities the same way but know for certain that we are all one and the same, just on a different path. Stumbling on this journey to find ourselves; to find our calling; to find our soulmate(s); and to give the love that we have received or, that we wish we received, to others, you/we should be willing to remove the label from that box we are sometimes all too eager to place people in (including ourselves) and be gentle with people, just as we wish they would be gentle with us. We are all the same…
Buzzfeed shows that we are all the same in this beautiful post a little over a year ago. I mean, we’ve all had a bad moment, behaved badly, or had devious thoughts even if we don’t realize we have. That should not keep us from finding ourselves in others, even those we do not get along with.
For me, I have to learn to let go of the labels because, in the case of my mother, I have to accept that this new life of caregiving is new to her too. Not only do I have to accept that my mother is scared, I have to make sure she feels safe to be scared because there is nothing wrong with being scared. Being scared doesn’t mean you stop. My mother always made sure that I knew and felt that I was safe when I was scared. How did I know I was safe? Because my mom always said she would be by my side and then, she always was by my side. It’s my turn now.
It takes a village, right? And we’re stronger together than apart, right? At least that’s what they say and I’m choosing to believe them. I hope you do too and you find your strength and love in life by looking inward but also, look for the strength and love you need from the folks in your own little “village”. And if you don’t have a village yet, recognize yourself in others and start your village.