By Heather O.
I’ll admit, I hold grudges. Not big grudges, and not like, ruin a friendship grudge, but I nurse small wounds longer than I should. My husband calls them my golden nuggets. Tiny little pieces of rock that I carry around in my soul. They don’t weigh a lot, but every now and then, I bring them out to shine them (read: emotionally obsess over them until my husband tells me to relax and go to sleep).
Recently, somebody said something to me that stung. Not a slap, just a sting. It bothered me, and I talked to my husband about it. I said, “Am I overreacting to this?” (something else I do—I am a chronic overreacter. Sadly, knowledge of this trait does not diminish it.)
I was thinking about this tonight. My family had a little fire in the backyard, and they all ditched me when it started to drizzle. I sat by the fire, stoked it up, and enjoyed a few quiet moments of solitude by the firelight and thought about this, about my grudges, my nuggets, and why I have them and who I have them about, and how I’ve let some of them go and why I keep some of them around.
I thought about the people in my life, and realized that I have no nuggets for my children.
My relationship with my children isn’t perfect. I wish I was a better mom, and I always hope and pray that I get credit for trying. But I can’t think of anything that they’ve done that has made me keep a nugget with their name on it.
It’s not that my children are perfect, either. They’ve done dumb stuff, stuff that makes me go, “What were you THINKING?”
I get angry at them sometimes, I get frustrated with them sometimes, I even disagree with their choices (and I’m sure as they get older I will disagree with even more choices), but I never stop loving them. My love for them is unconditional, and I will love them, no matter what. I will always want them to be a part of me and a part of my life. And so they are easy to forgive, because of this great and unconditional love I have for these small people who changed my world forever.
A parent’s relationship with her child is uncomplicated and straightforward. A mother loves her children, no matter what.
A child’s relationship with his mother, or his father, or his siblings—less straightforward, way more complicated. Do you know anybody who doesn’t have any issues with his or her mother? Even people who have great relationships with their parents have something that bothers them. And the siblings—well, forget it. Those relationships are potentially fraught with drama.
Family relationships are what keep therapists employed.
But mothers? Say what you will about the wacky bunch of us, we love our kids. Fiercely.
I pondered this as I sat in the dark, wondering if the reason I carry these nuggets around is because I don’t have it in me to forgive the slights, because I don’t have enough love for the people who slighted me.
Sometimes anger feels righteous, doesn’t it? “He was SO AWFUL to me, treated me like CRAP!” We deserve our anger, because we’ve been wronged. And most people (most sane people, anyways) usually have good reason to get angry. We, as a race, are fairly good at hurting each other.
But I wonder if I could muster up as much energy to love somebody as I do to be angry at them. What would that look like? A lot of work, I would suppose. Anger not only feels righteous, but it’s easier, too. At least for me it is. I admit there are calm people out there who feel that anger is just not worth the energy.
Anyway, I’m not sure I have a huge point to this, or even how to end this. Just that I should probably love more and be mad less.
And next time we build a fire in the backyard, I should make sure we have marshmallows so my kids will stick around.
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