Late Sunday night just a couple of weeks ago, my daughter calls and tells me that she has something big to share with me. She then hesitates and prefaces whatever is to come with: “I am going to need you to trust that I know what I am doing.”
I am pretty sure she has told me these exact words on the phone before, usually followed with the news of something which would not have been my first — or tenth — choice.
How different can this be?
When she shares with me that she has gotten married, I am temporarily unable to remember how to speak. I know I can because I do it a lot, but for a few long seconds my brain is refusing to let my mouth have a turn.
Instead, I am suddenly aware that there are three of me holding the phone, which feels all sorts of both weird and intensely present.
While my mouth catches up to my brain, I am suddenly my mother.
My mother who incidentally might have been doing that funny thing she used to do with her legs when she laughed so hard she thought she might pee. If she was indeed watching me from somewhere up above, there is no doubt she was loving this special family moment. So, yes — I am suddenly my mother. My mother who 31 years ago received the same phone call from me. I think I had started mine with: “Hey mom, remember that sailor I told you about?” To which she answered that no, she did not remember me telling her about any sailor — and what about him? This made sense because really, I probably had not had time to tell her about the sailor, having only known him a very (very) short time. The conversation progressed painstakingly from there and I announced that well … I had married him the night before. I remember her sharing the news with my dad while I was still on the phone. This was the first time that I had experienced silence as an actual tactile thing. She later told me that I broke his heart with that one call.
At the same time, I am my daughter.
When I made my call, I was a couple of years younger than she, and drunk with the fullness of having made a huge life decision on my own. Part rebellion, part overinflated self-confidence, I never mentioned that I had woken up that morning suggesting an annulment. This was about me, about a new us that I knew little about, and no part of me was oriented towards my parents’ feelings nor imagining that this could concern them a whole lot.
And then, I was me.
Me who was trying to catch pieces of words and thoughts to make them play nicely with each other. Me who wants to champion my kids always and foremost and me whose heart (or was it my ego?) was developing a little purple bruise at not having been included in the event. Finally me who really, was in shock. At first glance this would qualify as one of these “not my first choice” ideas. Thank god life sometimes gives up opportunities for many glances and this is one of these times.
My voice came back, we talked a bit longer and then she was gone. All three characters suddenly melded tidily into one woman who looked a lot like me.
A few days later, I found myself experiencing this “Three of Me” thing again. Talking with a young and cherished member of my team, for a moment I felt one part life coach, one part mom and one part business owner. They all had different things to say.
It’s weird, this ability (is that what it is??) to see things from a couple of different people’s eyeballs and hearts at the same time. It’s inconvenient. It’s messy and it makes things much less black and white. It can be painful, too. Whether my mom was laughing from wherever she is now or not, I welcome the sobering opportunity to glimpse at the impact my decision may have had on her life, three decades ago. I also welcome a bit of re-living the thrill of eloping. Finally I welcome the invitation to show up at my most loving, most humble version of myself as my daughter’s mom.
Life ain’t for sissies and living it wide awake tends to add an extra bit of brightness to the flavors.
Today, I invite you to pay attention to however many of you decide to show up uninvited to the big moments of your life. And to consider making them all a little place at the table, no matter how noisy it might get in there. Then to delight at the richness of it all.
Finally, I invite all of us to consider that whenever big stuff shows up our way, the kind of big stuff where our opinions like to make themselves known, Love is probably the best Essence to Declare and partner with.