There is a look that teenagers only give to their mamas – a combination of disgust accompanied by an eye roll and often a sigh. A look that conveys, How can you be so stupid? Maybe not all mamas know this look, but I do.
I recognize the look because it was a frequent occurrence at my house during the teenage years. I’ve seen it displayed between other mama-daughter pairs, so I don’t think I’m alone in receiving the look.
Today, I’m visiting my 85-year-old mama – the sweetest woman on the planet — and I’m remembering the looks I gave her when I was a teenager.
I’m embarrassed to admit it, but our relationship was turbulent. Argumentative is a good description – it paints a picture of my part in the relationship. I questioned her every move, I doubted her every act, and gave passionate speeches in debate form to prove my points.
I didn’t think she knew much.
Now I know better. Now I look at my mama with a mixture of awe and wonder. How could she do it all? Work so hard, be so kind, get so much done? She can out work me, out serve me, out shop me, out do me in almost any endeavor.
My relationship with my own daughters during their teenage years was turbulent. I will admit, during this season I could not envision a healthy adult relationship with either of them. I was wrong. Things changed. They grew into adults who appreciate and value family – even their mama!
These same daughters who rolled their eyes at me and argued with anything I said and fought my every decision, now call me for advice. They even like to visit and spend time with us. Much to my surprise, our relationship changed. I didn’t expect their maturity to bring them so far into positive communication, mutual respect, and understanding.
Today, visiting my own mom, I am aware of the years gone by, and with it some of her memories. Her mind is fading. The edges are blurring. She no longer remembers what she ate for breakfast. Sometimes, for a brief moment, she forgets if I’m Sandra or her granddaughter, Kristin.
I forget that these things matter. I’m just with my mama, in her sweet presence — listening to her ask “How’s Tom doing? What’s he up to today?”
Always concerned with others. That doesn’t change. She cares. Always. She loves her family. I feel it. I know it. I no longer ask her for the recipe to Swedish Meatballs to serve for company, because she doesn’t cook much anymore. My dad does the cooking.
All that doesn’t matter.
Today, I just want to sit by my mama’s side, at the kitchen table I grew up at. Grasp her hand. Hug her thin frame. Listen to her questions – perhaps five times. And give thanks for her.
I could never have imagined this moment sitting here with my mama when I was 20. You need to grow into the good things in life. You need to experience some hard so you can recognize some good. Our vision changes as we age – more than just physically.
At 20 years old I saw with a critical spirit – now I see grace when I look at my mama – sweet acceptance and kindness proven over a lifetime.
I could never have imagined as a teenager how my vision of my mother would alter. Let me be clear: my mama never changed – I did.
Oh, for clearer vision, right vision. To see that which is good and true. To recognize the gifts right before our eyes.
Lord, open my eyes to see with Your eyes and love with Your heart.