~the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses.
~a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression.
~intuitive understanding and insight.
The way a person sees an event or actions.
Each person has their own perception. No two people see things the same way. How boring would the world be if we did? Somehow in our own perceptions we need to be able to bend our view to the views of others.
Sometimes even our friends can teach us a thing or two about perception.
In having a conversation with my friend about parents I realized each of us was raised in a different way.
My friend unfortunately lost her father at the age of 13. It was and still is devastating. He was her daddy. He loved her the way only a dad can love a daughter. He protected her, and guided her. She misses him. I could never begin to comprehend losing my father like that, because I didn’t. That does not mean I can’t be friends with her. It means I have to bend my view to reflect hers in moments of intense emotional conversations.
We started talking about life while she was nursing her daughter. It hit a spot with me. I love my mother dearly. We are both teachers, we both have the same personality, and we both even end up wearing the same outfit on occasion. Very often we end up wearing the same color pallet on the same day, and even comment how we almost wore something else, and we both say the same thing. We have a bond that is close. Psychologist Erik Erickson would say this bond was formed while nursing. The whole Trust vs. Mistrust stage of life. Unfortunately, my mother tried, and was unable to breastfeed me. She never told me. She never harped on it. She didn’t have the internet to search for my symptoms, find a friend, complain to the world and then get support. She just fed me. Breast or bottle, she fed me. Thankfully, because I am here. I only know this as an adult because I asked when in school we talked about breast vs. bottle. I asked again as an adult nursing my first child. I wanted to know if nursing felt for her the way it felt for me.
I had sleep apnea as an infant. This meant that I stopped breathing in my sleep. To this day, I have problems breathing through my nose. This obstruction would make nursing difficult for sure because while you nurse, your nose is your primary source of oxygen. My mother spent months sleeping upright in a recliner, with me on her chest, so that I wouldn’t stop breathing in my sleep. She sacrificed her own mental health for my life. During the day, she walked around with a smile on her face. She brought me to preschool and dance and the zoo. She is my mom. She did what she needed to do. She never once brought this up. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized what my mom sacrificed for me to live.
As a teen, and even into young adulthood I resented her for a long time for nursing my sister and brother and not me. I have even gone as far as to blame my weight issues on her lack of breastfeeding efforts to her face. The say “Ignorance is bliss” I say that “they” (whomever they are) do not realize how powerful knowledge is. How powerful empathy is. The depths of knowledge we gain as we age are unlimited.
I gained perception…
I know better now.
I was her first.
She tried, and cried, and decided to love me to life. I choked when I nursed. I cannot imagine how much that scared her. So, she held me, slept upright with me, sang to me, and fed me a bottle. In turn, I survived and was loved. As a parent now, I would wish nothing else for my own children. The love a mother brings is special. It is different than other love. The pressure we have as moms today is huge. I imagine the pressure then was no different. Just different.
As I journey further into motherhood, and teaching, I realize that the moments my mother frustrates me the most, are the moments she is holding me up to be certain I don’t fall. I often revert to teenage brat who does not need my mom to tell me how to do it. The moments she is choosing to speak up, are the moments I am screaming with my fingers in my ears “I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!!”. The moments she tries to show me how to do something, I am three and screaming “I do it myself!” And yet, she keeps talking, she keeps holding, and she keeps showing. After all, that is what our moms do.
I wish I could do it over.
I wish I could grab that three year old, swoop her off her feet and say, “Do you see your mommy crying in the car? That is because she has to go to work and leave you with her parents and she just wants to be with you!”
I wish I could grab that 13 year old brat by the shoulders and say , ” you are so ungrateful!” ” your mother is working two jobs full time and finishing her Masters degree and she dry walled a room in the basement while your father is ill so you could have your ‘privacy’ you so desperately asked for!” “Thank her, love her, do you know what she sacrificed for you?”
But I can’t.
I thank her now. I drive her to the doctors when she needs a ride, or just a companion. I talk with her on the phone for hours about nothing because we both need a bent ear. I buy her books for school because we both love them, she buys them for me as well. I go on vacation with her because I can. We drink “Blue Drinks” and dance in the pool. I want to be with her now, because I overlooked all of those years. I did not want to be with her, I resented her presence because unfortunately that is what children do when they are teenagers. We both are a lot alike. Stubborn and brave.
Now I choose to spend my time loving my parents. Being present. Making phone calls. Just listening. Why? Because I get it. I don’t get it. But I get it. As our perception changes, so do our parents and our children. In reality, we change.