Today is my mom’s birthday. My mom died when I was 16. And even though she is gone, I think about her everyday. And as I age, my understanding of my mother grows. My mom fiercely loved her family–not only me and my dad but also her brothers and sisters–they were her very best friends–I believe they were her favorite people on the planet. She would do anything for them and they would do anything for her. I remember occasionally hearing her frustration with one of them, but she deeply and unconditionally loved her siblings. She thought the world of them. And with this love of siblings she was guarded with others. She didn’t really associate with our neighbors, she liked one family and the rest she thought were nosy. She had friends at work and became friends with the parents of my friends at my school and Irish dance. But I never understood her guarded nature–although she raised me to see the good in people, she would guard the gate into her inner circle. Her inner circle was full enough.
As an only child and losing both of my parents (and subsequently aunts and uncles who were like second parents) I had become the opposite of my mom. I had no guard up. I was like a dog eager and happy to greet any new person that entered my life. I wanted to be loved and not to lose any more people in my life. I felt that if I had a large circle of friends, I would not feel the sting of loss and loneliness. Judgement regarding people’s character was not in the mix. I just wanted friends. I had no filter, no guard at the gate. I let anyone in, regardless of how they treated me.
However, always seeing the good in people has allowed me to get burnt. I filled my life with people who were judgmental and oftentimes unkind. And it has taken me twenty plus years to understand my mom’s guarded nature. I finally get it and I am cutting out the unkind and selfish people from my circle.
I am blessed with my husband and his mom and aunts who are so giving, loving and self-less to my children–and also self-less to me. I appreciate and am so very thankful for the kindness and generosity they give to my children. I am also blessed with a small group of friends who are genuine, funny, loyal and kind. They make me a better person and I am grateful and blessed for their friendship. And because of my mom’s fierce loyalty to her family, I have great relationships with cousins. They are kind and funny–genuine and loving.
And so today, on my mom’s birthday, I will talk to my children about my mom–I will tell them about her fierce love of her siblings and hope that they too, as they age, will be loyal, loving and dedicated to one another. I pray that they will be part of each other’s inner circle–as I have witnessed the beauty of sibling love through watching my mom and her brothers and sisters share their best and worst moments–together–always together.