My mother grew up in India. She was raised a certain way. Feminine women didn’t talk about certain things. They were circumspect with their words.
Did I know my mother loved me? Yes. But talking with her could be an exercise in frustration, in guessing at hidden meanings and stepping in mine fields. Sometimes I felt she tore me down as much as she built me up.
When I was diagnosed with a metastatic brain tumor, all of that changed.
I no longer have time for niceties. I have become brutally honest. The guard rails are gone because I don’t have the energy for caution anymore. Now I speak the truth as I see it and I confront people if I need to.
It’s wonderful and it’s freeing, but it’s changed my relationship with my mother.
I used to pander to her because she is the mother. So even if I knew she was wrong, I’d give in. That is what dutiful Indian daughters do. No more.
This morning I told her I may need to move.
Mom lives with me. “I don’t want to move,” she said.
“That is fine,” I told her. “You don’t have to. But I will do what is best for me, and if moving is best for me, I will do it. So you need to be prepared for that.”
She was shocked.
“Sometimes you are right, mother,” I said. “But sometimes you are wrong and I know better. Sometimes I need to do what is best for me.”
“You are right,” she said. “Sometimes I am wrong. I am human.”
That affirmation was all I needed. “I’m wrong sometimes too, Mum,” I said, giving her a hug. “I’m only human, too. The important thing is that we love each other no matter what.”
We were both in harmony again. We now understand each other in a way we never did before.
I don’t know how much longer I have, but however long it is, I am glad I finally have a truly authentic and honest relationship with my mother. I love her so much, and now I also feel an emotional intimacy I never have before.
This post was previously published on a Few Words.
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