“You’re a territorial mother bear. Just like me.”
This is the greatest compliment anyone has given me, not because of the words, but because of who spoke them.
My mom has been a confidant always, especially in the last few weeks. In my intermittent seasons of restlessness, she is the one who gets the phone calls at random times of the day and week. She listens and tries to convince me to stop crying. I know she wishes she could be near me in those moments. She listens and responds when I’m yelling and screaming, mad at the world for this injustice or that unfair treatment. Sometimes I just want her to laugh at how childish I can act in my most vulnerable moments.
Last week, before my lunch break, I vented my frustrations in short, clipped texts to my mom. The number of blue text bubbles increased by the second. Her response, in white, was the greatest compliment I have ever received.
“You’re a territorial mother bear. Just like me. Lol.”
Then as I drove home for my lunch break, I called her. Angry, frustrated, cornered and already crying, I poured out my heart to her. She tried valiantly to fix the problem until she had to lovingly admit defeat. The problem could not be fixed. At least not in one phone call.
“You’re a territorial mother bear. Just like me.”
Work was frustrating me. My writing goals were making me restless. My loneliness was exasperating every emotion coursing through me.
She listened, and with a calm voice she told me,
“Be confident. Be strong. You’re here for a reason.”
The compliment then the encouragement. They are the subject of a good amount of my dwelling over the last couple of days. And since it is her birthday today, I wanted to write something for her.
If you ever meet me, or if you know me, then there’s a good chance you see pieces of my parents in me—specifically, you’ll see my dad’s influence.
I can recall the time when my coworkers told me their first impressions of me. I made my presence known early on, I guess you could say. I intimidated some, came across very strong and steady to others. As some got to know me on a personal level, they learned how I protect others at all costs, how opinionated I can be, how I stick to my guns on the issues I am most passionate about, how I fight for what’s important.
Once they got to know me, they asked about my parents. I told them as much as I was comfortable sharing. They safely assumed I got all these traits—protective instincts, strong opinions, fighting spirit—from my dad.
Truth is…yes, I got them from my dad, but my mom refined them…and added even more to them. She taught me how to have these perceived masculine traits with a ladylike attitude to back them up.
Moms. Everyone has one. The relationship that exists between a mother and her daughter can be a difficult one to navigate at times. For some it is a connection containing pain and heartache. For others it is a friendship between two likeminded people. Still for others it is a link requiring constant repairs or upgrades.
The connection I have with my mom…it feels like it fits all the mentioned categories. Rather, the evolution of it fits the categories.
The only way she could have had the ability to temper and refine such traits as mine is through her superior mom skills.
Growing up, I always wondered what it would be like to have a creative mom, or a mom that loved to go out to the beach all the time, or a mom who found all the fun things to do around town. I simply did not know what it was like to have a mom different from the one I had…obviously.
She was organized. Maintained schedules properly. Always had some wisdom to share. She parented from caution rather than recklessness. Fostered responsibility in her children. Practiced patience when we just could not understand or apply what she was saying. She worked to attain balance even though I am sure she went to bed most nights feeling like a failure and questioning her decisions.
She loved us according to who she was and is.
Looking at my own life now, I clearly see I still maintain my protective nature and my fighting spirit, but it is now tempered with my acquired mom skills.
Her organization has rubbed off on me. I get excited when I get to vacuum my home. I can relax a little easier when I have all the clutter in its place and it is no longer congregating on my dining room table. I enjoy my weekends more after I clean my bathroom and kitchen on Friday nights. I take pride in maintaining my home as my mom was a consistent top-notch homemaker.
Her caution and wisdom come out when I counsel and encourage others. It taught me to be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading in my relationships with others.
Her patient spirit complements my fighting spirit, because sometimes those you want to fight for require a bit more patience than the rest. Mom had to endure the balance between these two for each of her three kids at one time or another, and it consistently taught me. I fight to find the balance on this scale every day.
Balance has been the biggest lesson. A fighting spirit paired with patience. A free spirit paired with organization and pride. A growing relationship with Christ erring on the wise and cautious side. These traits comprise who I am, yet this would not be a true statement without my mom.
Her teaching, her example, her instruction and her wisdom led to receiving the greatest compliment.
Thus, it is only fitting that the greatest compliment I have ever received came from her.