I’ve never felt as empowered and justified as I did this past Monday afternoon.
This past Monday afternoon was spent at a Korean fried chicken joint because the cafe next door was packed.
The people that accompanied me were my mom, my cousin from Korea, and her husband, a recently graduated seminary student.
My cousin and hubby were in town for the graduation and while we were hanging out a couple days prior, I asked if they’d be willing to meet with my mom and me, just to talk, get an outside perspective.
They agreed and Monday afternoon happened.
For those who don’t know, I’ve struggled in my relationship with my mom for way too many years. Some may say I’m too sensitive, too begrudging, too petty. I agree. But I can’t deny that what bothers me more is that I’m still bothered.
I had tried countless times to explain myself to my mom, to get her to understand my side, ultimately to gain her approval and acceptance. Those attempts always ended in raised quickened voices, and they usually ended in tears. Mine.
I’m not sure why I could never just walk away, let her do her thing, and excuse myself to do mine. Perhaps it’s because I’m a stubborn human being. Perhaps it’s because I feel like it’s still possible to talk it through. Perhaps perhaps perhaps.
So this meeting was an attempt to understand our relationship. I considered it my last attempt. I decided, after bringing in an independent party, if we couldn’t get through this, I could brush my hands off and move on.
I expected to be like so. But it wasn’t.
Sitting in the booth, the back of my knees sweating profusely – whether from the lack of air conditioning or my nervousness of the moment, I don’t know – I began to talk about what I felt about my mom.
It got real. Because there was nothing to lose. There was no time to waste. I broke it down to this narrative because it would have been impossible to recount every single damn thing we argue about.
She doesn’t know me, yet she judges me. I am always in the wrong, even when I come to her asking for her availability as a mother. Her worrying and nagging reveal her lack of trust and understanding in me as a person, as a woman. Rather than a living breathing human being seeking her own truth, I’m reduced to a prayer request and source of constant worry. I find myself fighting, begging, and debating for her acceptance. I’ve now come to understand her acceptance and approval are not necessary for me to live a good life. I simply value it at this point and want to reconcile our relationship so I, and hopefully, we can get peace of mind.
My cousin and her husband listened.
My mom sat through the whole thing. She defended herself at certain points. But I made it through. Then my mom had a chance to respond.
My cousins and her husband listened.
Then they broke it down so my mom could understand. They did a way better job than I ever did all these years. Partly because they weren’t emotionally involved lol. And partly because they empathized with both sides.
In the end, they gave us homework. We were to hang out once a week, or whatever was feasible. Just hang out. Nothing heavy, nothing crazy. Just hang out and get to know each other. During our hang outs, we’re not allowed to argue, to complain, to get in each other’s faces. We simply let each other be and enjoy it. Or learn to enjoy it haha.
And that sat well with both of us. Tonight, my mom and I are hanging out. We are hitting up a cafe or bakery (she LOVES pastries) and sitting down and talking. One adult to another. One woman to another.
Things take time. But damn, it’s about time for some serious reconciliation. Wish me luck.