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Mother’s Regret

If you would only listen, child. My words fall silently on a closed door as you sit alone in your room. Just moments ago, I envisioned you coming to me with arms open wide. Now, regret comes in wave after wave threatening to drown me in sorrow.

The things I was thinking. The concerns for your future. Those sentences did not come out the way I expected. The meaning of each word got crossed in the delivery. The tone of my voice was supposed to be filled with love and admiration, not anger and disappointment.

When you woke up late, I let you know how I felt by the look on my face. Then you chose to hang out with friends instead of keeping our plans. My anger could not be contained. It was the moment you turned to say goodbye, that gave me one last shot. I didn’t want to miss my chance so I let you know how I felt as condescendingly as I could.

Darkness took over the light of day and you were back, friends in tow. All day long in my mind, I had made a laundry list of your bad behavior. Without hesitation, I humiliated you in front of your friends by recapping everything you should have accomplished today. Reminding you how tired I am of doing everything, and I wasn’t going to do it anymore!

You didn’t stay home but when you returned later that night, I was waiting. Before you closed the door of your room to sleep, you came to my office. The look on your face said the words you would never speak but I was tired and irritably asked, “What do you want now?”

Tears welled up in your eyes, the eyes of a young adult not long ago a child. You shook your head no, saying nothing. Then you took a few steps forward, leaning down to wrap one arm around my neck, pressing your lips against my cheek. Only God could put that kind of love in your heart after years of a mother’s chastisement.

Without a word you were gone. As I returned to my work, I had a sudden and overwhelming epiphany. Where had I gotten so off track to believe constant fault-finding and belittlement was going to help my child to become a successful adult? Was this the reward my child deserved for being born and doing their best? The epiphany was: I expected too much from this teenager. Now was their time for mistakes and freedom to figure out who they are and what they want to accomplish. It was the fear of impending responsibilities of adulthood that replaced my natural ability to love without condemnation.

Ashamed, I shook my head silently at your door over this foolishness. Closing my eyes, I cursed my pride. Then I remembered how good-natured and loving you are to your friends and family. Day after day, through acts of kindness and your overwhelming ability to forgive show exactly who you are and what you stand for in this world. It’s your heart of gold that shines brighter than all the stars in the darkest night sky.

My hand reached up to knock upon your door, but I know my words would just get crossed and never explain why I seem harsh toward you, my child. With newfound enthusiasm, I lowered my hand, walked back to the office and make a new plan for our lives. Tomorrow will be different. I’ll be different. Every time I feel the words of judgement coming up against you, I will remind myself that you are not an adult. When you speak, I will listen and do my best to hold my tongue when advice or opinions surge up from my gut.

Now I see you for who you are… a child. You may look like an adult, speak like an adult, want to be treated as an adult, but you are a teenager. Yesterday you were a baby in my arms, safe and protected from the world. I know now that I have expected too much from you and for that I have many regrets. As the time quickly passes by to teach you how to live in this world, I only have one last request. Keep showing me, my beloved child, how to be carefree and trust that everything will be alright.