Thursday, February 3, 2011

My mom at the beach

I'm blogging from my nook at JAVAJOE'S in Hilton Head, SC. Our week of vacation is almost up. I've come to realize it's been much more of a vacation for Mom than for Dad and I. For us, the main difference was a change of location.It's been fun, for sure. An excuse to be even lazier than normal, languid walks on the beach, a day exploring the history of Savannah on a Spanish moss-strewn trolley tour. But for Mom, it's so much more. It's meant a whole week of freedom. A chance to decide exactly what she wants to do and when, and then actually do it, guilt free. I didn't realize how special and rare it is for her until I actually saw her, smiling the kind of smile I haven't seen in a really long time, a huge grin that stretches all the way across her face. A really genuine smile, not the mona lisa smirk she puts on for pictures. In fact I only recall ever seeing this smile on my sister, Esther. So it really surprised me to see it on Mom. she's never this kind of happy.

I take freedom for granted. It's been a fairly normal condition for most of my life. But even before she started working full-time, mom has considered her time to belong to her family, not to her. Every moment she gets to herself she feels like she's stolen, and is plagued with guilt about it. It's the same whenever she spends money - she feels like she has to justify every dollar. I can't imagine feeling like that all the time. No wonder she gets so frustrated with dad and me and the way we spend our days. But sometimes I feel like her sacrificial attitude is causing more suffering than necessary. She's so stressed all the time that seeing her relaxed is somewhat of a shock. She doesn't have to justify the way she spends her time any more than we do, but she always does. When I brought up the idea of her having her own private space in the house, like a little reading nook/study, she acted like it was impossible. "Moms don't get their own space," she said. Certainly not with that attitude. But as much as that frustrated me, I can't help but wonder if I'll feel the same way when I'm a mom. Is this just part of the deal that comes with motherhood? The older I get the more I notice all the thankless stuff moms do. Certainly makes you think twice before signing on. I can tell myself I'll be "smart" about it, not get into this guilt cycle, cut myself some slack, but odds are l'll be exactly the same.
Anyways, I'm going to enjoy Mom's big, guilt-free grins while they last. I hope she's having a really stellar vacation. She deserves it more than any of us.
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