the gift

[This was a story that was part of the Christmas gift I gave to my family 2 Christmases ago. Kali brought it to my attention that I never posted this one, and she asked that I would.]

The Gift

When I was younger I always knew the things that were expected of me: Buckle up before we're out of the driveway; If you dribble on the toilet seat, wipe it up; Wash your hands with soap and hot water; Keep your shirt tucked in all day; Don't hit, bite, scratch, pinch, or provoke your sister; Set the table-- forks go on the left-- and eat with the family; When it's bedtime, it's bedtime and don't come back downstairs.
Rules and requirements for living. Boundaries.
Battle lines.

When I was living in them I didn't necessarily think of escaping, but I didn't necessarily think of obeying. My sister was a great rule follower. If she ever felt she had broken a rule, she would rat herself out, usually with tears and a lot of remorse. I, on the other hand, admitted my fault only when caught, kicking and screaming.
At the age of six I went forward during the altar call at our small Baptist church. It was revival that week, and something must of hit me and I remember shaking slightly as I stepped out into the aisle on the faded mustard carpet. My pastor was up front and I waited my turn to talk and pray with him. I'm sure my parents were praising God as they sat in the pew-- not only because I made a decision to accept Christ, but because this might mean a little more peace would now enter their home.
I'm sure the first few says were alright. I remember I even read my bible when I thought of it, my six year old mind wondering over the titles like Habakkuk and Zephaniah. I traced the maps in the back with my small fingers, not sure who Paul was or why his "missionary journeys" were important enough to follow.
But soon I was tormenting my sister again and finding myself in trouble. I couldn't always help it though. One time we were going to play Operation and she wanted to play upstairs, which didn't suit my plan of playing downstairs. Before I knew it she was already walking up the staircase and I panicked and I grabbed her arm and dug in my fingernails. I don't think she has the scar anymore.

Although my misbehavior eventually grew less as I grew older, I soon found another source on which to target my mischief-- my mother. Junior high was rough for her and me both. I thought it was just me going through puberty, but I realize now I forced her to go through it with me.
I knew at this point in my life what was expected of me as well: Don't laugh when I'm getting on to you (but it was just too funny when I looked in her eyes); Don't hang out with her too much, she'll get you in trouble (But you don't even know her!); Don't wear that tight skirt our of the house-- leave something for the imagination (But Valerie, Lacy, Jackie, AND Ashley all got this dress).
And so on.
One day though we had a fight and I don't even remember what it was about, but she came back in my room later that night. She said, "Kels, you wear that WWJD bracelet, but do you even think about what that means?" This is all she said.
I know it's probably unrealistic to say that from that moment on I was a changed person-- but it was a pivotal moment. I recall her words many times and the waves crash against my body the same..."Do you even know what that means?"

I respect my mother now beyond what I can show her. I'm turning into her and I don't even care. I've had students laugh at me when I'm scolding them and I know what she felt like when I did the same and I wonder why I'm still alive. That girl she didn't want me to hang out with ended up with drug and alcohol problems and there isn't an outfit I put on that I don't run through a filter that sounds a lot like her voice.

As I am preparing to soon be out on my own and be a mother some day, I realize the gift my own mother has given me. She gave me the gift of motherhood. On the nights when she could have skipped a fight and let me stay out an hour later. On the days she could have turned her face and skipped the discipline that would result in her seeing my actions. On the years she could have dropped me off at a daycare and worked and skipped the struggles with a discontent, impatient, and crying two year old at home. All the times she could have tried to be my friend, she instead chose to be my mom.
She gave me the gift of motherhood and I look forward to passing this gift along to my children, in the hopes that they will one day look at me in the way I look at my mom-- as a friend.


Anonymous said...

Have you started that book yet? It's never to early. I'm serious.

Kali said...

Thank you! And yes, I think that scar is almost gone. And somehow I think I got in trouble for that whole thing.

Anonymous said...

Just so you know, now I'm the one that's honored when you call me Mom. I'm so proud of you. Thank you for the beautiful words. ~Mom

*carrie* said...

Brought to tears . . .

Thanks for sharing this.

Brent said...

Just wanted to let you know that I still love to read what you write.