Working on changing a less than perfect mother-daughter relationship sure isn’t easy. After all, you’re dealing with another human being here and your history together is long and winding. I, myself, have found that there’s a lot of progress, then back-sliding, then some progress again. I spend a lot of time talking to myself, too, reminding myself of some of the strategies that have worked for me in the past, or that I vowed to try again in the future.
So, the other night I had a chance to put one of these strategies I had in the back of my memory to work once again. I had had a stressful day, lots going on, hormones raging, whatever. During my daily phone call with my mom, I found myself getting irritable, short and impatient. I snapped at her numerous times. She wasn’t really doing anything wrong, other than maybe just being herself…she certainly wasn’t purposely trying to antagonize me or anything. But I just felt myself getting more and more annoyed with her, feeling like she wasn’t listening to me, or was telling me what to do. Other times, she might have snapped back at me and a full blown argument would ensue, but, for some reason, that didn’t happen this time. She just hung in there and didn’t retaliate. We finally ended the call.
But then I felt badly…ok, maybe even a little guilty. I tried to let it go, but then I started to think about all those tips we put on the website…I tried to see my mother as a person with her own challenges and feelings; I tried to think of the good things about our relationship; I realized that our time left together is short; that life is short; that some small things just don’t matter, but the big things do, etc., etc.
And I picked up the phone and called her back. “I felt that I was irritable and impatient with you on the phone earlier…I’m not sure why…and I just wanted to apologize.” I think that was just about the greatest gift I could have given my mom. She was so appreciative that I had called back and said that. And I felt so good about acknowledging my errant behavior and making amends. Hmmm…this wasn’t so hard after all. Maybe practice really does make “perfect”…or at least better.