In honor of my first Mother’s Day without my mom, I share this essay I wrote in response to those who don’t understand why I left home to find my happiness.
It’s okay that freedom is important to me. There’s nothing wrong with my sense of adventure or love of the world. I am Anita’s daughter. I enjoy freedoms not available to those before us. Advances in laws, attitudes, transportation, medicine, and computer technology have opened opportunities that are not lost on me.
I will not feel guilty for having a life so different from my grandmother’s. I would have created a great life for myself on the farm, even as property of my grandfather. But I don’t have to. I can enjoy hot showers in my “think tank” and magazines in my “reading room”. I can Google that building’s namesake and deliver an E-mail to the mayor, asking him to add a historical plate explaining the significance–from a device in my hand. Also from that device, I can book a flight to Paris and AirBnB rooms across the globe, the worst of which are probably still more comfortable than the log cabin Grandma Lula grew up in.
I might have loved her life in many ways, but I don’t have to replicate it to honor it. I can love both worlds–and all worlds.
Likewise, I can love the lives of my sisters, even if they differ from mine. Two of them had children out of wedlock and were single moms for awhile–lifestyle choices likely unheard of when my mom was 19. My other sister left home, had a long marriage, freed herself, and greatly influenced me.
I love all of their lives, where they make them happy.
It’s not that I didn’t want children or marriage. For much of my young life, I wanted little more. I dreamed of having a big house for all of the unloved children I would adopt and save from sad lonely lives (like mine sometimes was). But I was chasing that life for many unhealthy reasons. Thus, my relationships didn’t last. I was too blinded by my own pain to see the addictions, homosexuality, and other incompatibilities. I was no better partner than they were.
Work, school, sports, and career were what I was good at, which is why I let them lead me. These were choices my mother and grandmother didn’t have, and I always assumed they would eventually lead me home. They did, just not a home in Louisville. At least for me, home truly is where the heart is, and my heart is (hopefully) always within me.
My home, like my office, is wherever I am. That is, in part, because of the love all around me. It has never been absent, even when I couldn’t feel it. I often deflected it. At other times, I tried to hoard it. When I set love free, I became free.
It has taken a lot of therapy and personal development that I still work on every day, but this is what works for me. It’s not better or worse than what works for you. It’s just different. Be different, yet be kind, and welcome the unique qualities in others. They don’t change or threaten yours. There’s room for all of us.
Hating me will not change me; it will change you–from the loving, happy person you were created to be. Be love. Be happiness. Be you. These are among the things my mother taught me, and now I live her dream.
Happy Mother’s Day!