Saturday, November 21, 2009

A child's lament

I've been with Paul for almost a year and a half, but yesterday I had this moment where I felt as though I was really seeing him for the first time. Paul had a test in some crazy accounting class that he had studied for all week. He was feeling comfortable with the material and thinking he would do well. I wanted to make sure he was well fed before he left so I mixed up a batch of whole grain pancakes. As we sat down at the table, Paul cheerfully telling me about his goal for 100% on his test, I buttered my pancake and waited for the prayer. Paul said it. He blessed the food and thanked Heavenly Father for some of our blessings. Before his said amen, he reverently asked for divine assistance for all of his classmates taking the test today-- that they would do well. As the prayer ended I looked at him and his sweet, innocent face. Even though it would make his score look better if others did worse, even though it might insure him top score in the class, he didn't care. He wanted his peers and friends, people he'd studied with and people who he didn't, to do their best too. And that selfless and sweet prayer changed me somehow. I want to be more like that.

Today at church we talked about service in almost every meeting. I led the music in Relief Society and chose "Called to Serve" as the opening hymn. Before the second verse began, our Relief Society President stood up and the rest of the sisters followed. As we stood singing fervently about serving God and others I was touched. It seemed so appropriate somehow that at this Thanksgiving season we would learn to show our gratitude by giving back. What a good sabbath.

But neither of those things are what I originally sat down to write about.

There was a time not as long ago as I'd like to admit where I was a teenager and thought I was a good one at that. I didn't do drugs or get a tattoo or do naughty things with boys. I was on the honor roll and had church callings and participated in nerdy but wholesome things like yearbook and band. And I thought I was a really good teenager.

At the time I felt that my mom's gentle nudges for me to be even better, because she knew I had that potential, was criticism wrapped in parental justification. I wanted her to see me as an equal and leave me alone about the things I wasn't doing perfectly. It stung that she saw my flaws because I was trying so hard to mask them with worldly accomplishment. It all came to a chaotic crash when my mom and I had our first real argument. I shook and cried and even raised my voice. It was ugly but made me conclude that my mom really didn't care what I had to say or what I was feeling. I decided then to only talk when asked a direct question and to give as short of an answer as possible. Almost a week passed and my mom made desperate efforts to speak to me kindly and joke around to make me crack. But I was stubborn and treated her coldly.

Finally, Sunday before church she asked me to come to her room to help her put on a necklace. I did so silently and my mom began to cry. I turned to leave when she called my name. Tears streaming down her face she said, "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I want my old Kayla back. I want my happy Kayla back." We hugged and I told her it was okay and I would stop. I felt like my silence had done it's job. I had given her a dose of the misery I was feeling.

I cannot adequately describe the pain I have personally suffered from that event for the past three years. I don't remember what the topic of the argument was that prompted such behavior, and that's what kills me the most. I put my mom through anguish over something so trivial I can't even remember. That woman has stood by my side through every stupid thing I have ever said. She has listened to hours of ridiculous dreams. She has patiently held her tongue for years of "detail oriented-ness" and endured my sassy mouth. And then she gave me everything she had to teach me how to be the best person and. . . and I treated her terribly.

I am so sorry, Mom. If I didn't say it then, I'm saying it now. I am sorry. And thank you for never giving up on that freckle faced little firecracker with a whole lot of attitude and not enough judgement. I love you. Happy birthday!

(More birthday details to come later this week.)

1 comment:

  1. Now you have made me cry again...but for a much more pleasant reason. No need to apologize. It was worth it all to see you grow up to be such a fine woman. I'd do it all again...but wait...Tessa is only 12 so I guess I will get to do it all again ;-) Hope it turns out as well. I love you!
    PS I can't wait to hear your version of my WONDERFUL birthday.