Monday, January 26, 2004

I always find my mom giving me wisdom that she doesn't intend to give. It's just her personality, I guess, from which I'm able to draw wisdom. It's different than someone consciously imparting wisdom to you, which is nice, but if it's a big part of their personality, it can be annoying, even if the advice and lessons are good ones.

Like, a while back, I was going through a rough time in my life, feeling adrift and lost and everything I tried to do (even my "good" decisions) seemed to backfire. I was sort of down and out at one point, but I had been keeping all the negative aspects in my life from my parents. I think I was telling myself I was shielding them, but in the end I think it was me not wanting to face myself, because your family, if it's in working shape, often functions as a mirror. It does for me, to some extent. And at that time in my life, I rarely talked to them or visited. (Of course, some families don't work as mirrors, particularly if they have the inability to "see" or "recognize" who you are, but that's not the case with my family, or not with most of them).

So at my lowest point, I finally called my mom to try and talk to her about my problems. She answered the phone cheerful, as always, and before I had a chance to open the conversation, she started talking about a book she was reading to her fifth graders. It was about a boy who was trying to save the world, but everything he did blew up in his face. When he tried to save an endangered animal, he just made things worse. Things like that. So my mom told me the basic storyline, and afterward she said, "I keep telling my kids the important thing is that the little boy keeps trying."

Of course I started crying, first silently, then when my mother realized and asked what was the matter, I started sobbing. And it was all because of her story about the little boy. She had managed to create for me in one moment a symbol of a couple of years of my life. And she had done it without knowing what she'd done.

When I first moved into this apartment, which was a decision I'd made (one of the "good" ones) as a step to becoming more independent of other people (particular ones, of course) my mom brought me a plant that someone had given her at her brother's funeral. He had passed away around the same time I moved into this apartment. She said, "Take care of this," and we found a place to put it that looked nice. I didn't know if I could take care of a plant, though. I was having trouble taking care of myself at the time, so in my mind I was thinking, This plant is so dead. I gave it three months, tops.

But I've managed to keep it alive and healthy for almost two years now. But some of the fronds at the bottom of the plant have lately been yellowing or browning, and I was like, "Oh go figure, I spoke too soon. Here we go again, little boy thinking he's doing something right." But my mom came out for lunch this weekend and when I showed her the plant and predicted its imminent doom, she said, "Oh no, it's not dying. Look. Look how healthy and strong and thick the stalk is, and look at the top, it has a new growth coming in. It's just the bottom fronds that are having trouble. It just needs a bigger pot to grow in, and more soil, some new richer soil."

And of course she'd done it again, without knowing it.


Post a Comment

<< Home