I wanted a water filter that removed fluoride and had been saving up. My mom texted me on Easter, wishing me a happy one, asked if I had plans and if I needed a new spring dress. “I’ve been looking at some for you and I want to buy one for you if you need.” The only thing I’m displeased with about my wardrobe is that I have too many clothes so I told her this, and about the water filter. She said she’d definitely contribute to that fund and would send a check. It arrived on Friday. And I was a sodden woman.
It was more than I anticipated, but the tears were about something else. My mom didn’t just send a check wrapped in a loose leaf of college-rule paper to make it less attractive to thieves. She’d traded her typical packaging for a purple card with butterflies on it. It said thinking about you today. “Hope you’re doing okay,” she writes at the end of her message on the inside. Why does a simple card in my mom’s handwriting bring me to tears? It wouldn’t have a few weeks ago, though that’s not because my mom doesn’t usually do things like this.
I’ve had a strained relationship with my mom my whole life. This had no doubt impacted my (current lack of) relationships with my siblings, particularly my sister. I struggle mightily with feeling loved; there is plenty of mutual misunderstanding between me and the rest of my family. Breakthroughs have happened, but I find them difficult to trust. Also, as I’ve said, I simply don’t know how to receive comfort. So that contributed to the inundation. My mom did a nice thing that I want so much to feel is a nice thing and I can’t.
It contributed by cracking the dam, though. “I was looking at dresses for you,” my mom says. She was thinking about me without my having to ask her to, without my having to remind her of my existence. From what I know about my sister (admittedly not much these days), shopping and dresses and new clothes in general are more her thing. But this was my mom trying. Doing a thing I didn’t have to ask for or arrange or explain, like I mostly always feel I have to do with people in my life. How many times have I missed these actions from my mom? How many chances at receiving love have I simply not seen?
From her or anyone else? I’m not saying we shouldn’t know each other well enough to speak the love languages our friends and family speak. It’s actually probably partly because this did not happen in my family (for me) that I’m not fairly sure I’ve missed a lot of attempts at loving me. But thinking about me, especially during a time I’m enduring exhausting isolation, when I did not have to do anything, is the first step. I guess I’ve assumed that most people don’t think about me and really, I’m not going to be able to know if people are unless they take action. My mom did, and went to the effort of finding a very cute card and then writing a long-ish personal message when all she committed to was contributing to my water-filter fund. Seems she has contributed to more than one fund relating to water.