Michal’s Mom

I met Michal in a professional seminar in one of Tel-Aviv’s beach hotels.
During one of the breaks, drinking coffee and watching the wintery-sunny beach, we had an acquaintance chat.  Michal is in her forties, nice looking and well expressed, she is an internal decorator, happily married plus four kids. When the conversation turned to the topic of misunderstandings between parents and children, Michal shared this touching personal experience with me

“I am the older of two sisters and growing up my relationship with my mother was always problematic and complicated.  Even when I matured my mother kept treating me like I can’t be counted on, like I’m always doing things wrong. She commented on and criticized everything I did, endlessly trying to educate me. Eventually I married, had children but it didn’t stop.
Gradually, I stopped sharing my daily events with her. During one of my pregnancies, in a very early stage, I had a miscarriage and I hadn’t even told her. I noticed that I wasn’t answering her calls and in the few cases I did I was just waiting for the conversation to end. “Will my kids do the same when I call them?” I thought in panic.
My mom’s 60th birthday party was then around the corner. I was expected to prepare something, to write or say something, but how could I do it being so loaded? Should I leave the ‘project’ for my younger sister?
It seems that this was the wake-up call that I needed. I found the right opportunity when my mother and I were alone and I shared my feelings with her. I told her that it had been very difficult for me to live with the feeling that she doesn’t trust me, that everything that I do is not good enough for her, and that she always has something to say regarding my life and my choices. “You keep on educating me and you forget that I’m already forty years-old and I’m a mother of four!”
My mother was silent. We looked in each other’s eyes (I didn’t remember when the last time we looked at each other that way was) and I knew she was listening.

“You are wrong, Michal.” She said quietly. “I do trust you, and everything that you do you do just great and I’m so proud of you. I’m ashamed to say it but I will – all my comments and advice are only said to remind myself that I’m still your mother. To prove to myself that I’m still important in your life, that I’m still somebody that you will listen to and that I still bring an added value to your life ….even now when you are forty…”
I warmly hugged her, both of us in tears, and in the silence of the room I could clearly see, for the first time in my adult life, her side and her fears…
A few days later I went to visit her. I wanted to help her arrange the kitchen and I was on my way to put a bag of bread-crumbs back into the freezer. My mother, as always, jumped at me, grabbed the bag from my hands and said: “let me put it back, you will not do it right.”  I thought to myself:  “Well, you don’t have to graduate from law school in order put a bag back in the freezer”, but then I remembered what she had told me and I just smiled.
“Next week,” Michal said “My mom and I are going away for a long weekend in the dead sea. It is the first time in our lives that we are vacationing ‘one-on-one’. It seems that I have gained back my mother.”

This was Michal’s story. I listened quietly and I felt empathy to her mother’s courage and candidness to admit her motives. Does it reflect the reasoning and motivation behind the behaviors of many other mothers? It was also so interesting to notice, again, how one can change relationships only by looking at the other side of the coin and by communicating.

(Michal gave me her permission to tell her story)

I wish all of you a Happy New Year,
Fireworks (45)
Shuka, Thursday, December 24, 2009

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