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.)