Have you ever been given a label that doesn’t seem to fit with how you’d describe yourself?
Sometimes, the label itself isn’t negative, but we attach negative meaning and assumptions to what wearing that label must say about us.
After working through one of the many, many rounds of editing my book How Mommy Got Her Groove Back, my editor, Carol, finally said, “You know, from everything you’ve written, it’s quite obvious you’re a mama’s girl.”
Really? I’m a mama’s girl? I thought. I mean sure, I love my mother, but is that really how you’d categorize me?
To be honest, as soon as Carol made her assessment, I found myself taking offense to that label.
I didn’t want to be labeled a mama’s girl.
The label seemed to make me appear weak. Pathetic. Incapable. Like I couldn’t stand on my own two feet.
Certainly not strong, bold or competent–all the words I’d desire to be described by, if I were to pick.
I didn’t seem to fit.
This fall, my parents started building a new home.
After over forty years of living on the original homestead where they started their life together (and my dad’s mother lived as a young girl) my parents are going to sell it.
My brother and I were brought home from the hospital to that home. The business that prompted our return to Oakes was started on that farm. My mom’s heart and soul are evident in every nook and cranny of the house, the yard and the never-ending flower gardens.
It’s going to be a tough day when they say goodbye to the place. (We are slowly but surely, trying to come to terms with this. We’ll get there.)
But the kicker?
My parent’s new home is almost within throwing distance of my house. I think I could actually hit their house with a rock. No kidding.
That’s right–my mom and dad are going to be my next-door neighbors. Are you just dying reading that?
If you had told me this would be my fate fifteen years ago, I would have laughed you out of the room–I was not returning to my hometown. I would not need my mom like I do and I would not have the same street address as my parents.
This is one of those life events I like to refer to as “off-plan”.
But here’s the thing: in my heart, I’m genuinely, thoroughly excited about this.
Being an emotionally sensitive woman, I typically am in tune with how I feel about things. And in this case, I can see very little downside to my parents living next door to us.
Then? Enter other people and their opinions.
Since the construction of their new home broke ground, I’ve fielded variations of this question: “Wow. So, your parents are going to be living next door? How do you feel about that?”
I mutter some casual response alluding to the fact that I’m actually happy about it, all the while watching the other person legitimately struggle to understand.
Every time this happens inevitably, I start to question why I don’t have the doubts looming over me like apparently, so many others would if in a similar predicament. Inevitably, I start to wonder if being thrilled for this change does in fact make me weak, pathetic and incapable.
And then I realize something–none of these concerns are grounded in feelings of my own. I feel this way only because I want to be validated. I want to be justified in my excitement. I want other people to get it. I want other people to support me and tell me it’s awesome.
I want approval.
But like with anything, waiting for other people to validate or justify my decisions is a complete and utter waste of time. Why?
Because other people aren’t me.
Other people don’t share the same values that I do.
Other people may not have the relationship I have with my mother.
I can’t expect nor should I wait for other people to get on board with the decisions I’m making. If I have to wait for people’s approval to be excited about my decisions, I could be waiting a long, long, long, long…you get the point…
Often times, while discussing this situation, people will say, “Oh lucky you! You’ll have a babysitter that lives right next door!”
For real, this has occurred to me. I mean, really, who wouldn’t love having that kind of support with three children, a farmer husband and a busy job that often requires out-of-town travel?
But my mother is so much more than a babysitter.
Since moving back to Oakes and becoming a mother myself, I have come to know my mother in a way that I never believed to be possible. Mom is extremely private, she holds her feelings close to the vest and she doesn’t allow many people in.
If you’re wondering, yes, we are nearly the complete opposite in every way. (Except the neatfreak and perfectionist thing–we’re cut from the same cloth in that regard)
But my mother is fierce. She is wise. She is nurturing. She is thoughtful. And above all else, she is my biggest cheerleader, she supports me in the pursuit of my dreams and is the rock that grounds me when I’m struggling–like right now when it’s harvest, my husband isn’t around much and I’m ready to pull out my hair.
Some of my friends would do anything to have their moms back on this earth again. Many women I know live far away from their mothers and are getting by without the daily support of their moms.
But I don’t have to. And because I truly love my mother, I don’t want to.
My mom’s presence in my life makes me better. My mom’s presence in the lives of my children makes them better.
So instead of worrying that loving her, needing her and thinking of her as home makes me weak, pathetic or incapable, I’ll own it. For as long as she’s on this earth and no matter where my journey takes me, without shame, embarrassment or fear, I will proudly declare it.
And wear that label like the badge of honor it is.
I am proud to be the daughter of a woman for whom wearing the label is worthy.
As it turns out, I always was and still am a mama’s girl.