The relationship between parents and children are not all sweet and loving, warm and joyful. It also consists of rage and anguish, tears and regrets. It is a complex and messy part of being human.
Even so, with the realization that all of us are flawed, eventually we learn to come to terms with such condition, just like how I constantly have to make sense of the mother-and-daughter-relationship that I have with my mom.
My mother is not perfect, which is completely fine because growing up made me realize that she does not have to. She has this tendency to think bad of other people and is against the idea of doing something out of pure kindness, and the one thing that I cannot stand the most about my mom is her temper. It was very easy for her to get angry, and by angry, I mean shouting and occasionally saying hurtful things that would almost always wear us out.
To be fair, I myself is far from being a perfect daughter. I admit that it must have been very difficult to love a daughter with too many bad habits. To name a few: lazy, frequently throwing a tantrum, not responding to what her mother says, and delaying (or even avoiding) her house chores. I was even sure that half of her anger was caused by me.
Even so, I know in my heart that things would have turned out so much better if only she had a better temper. Sometimes, when the situation got very bad, nasty thoughts swallowed the inside of me, ones that I would regret because I know it would hurt my mom if it was ever spoken aloud. These outbursts of anger that I often have – maybe I owe it all to her.
And that is the thing about this whole mother-and-daughter-relationship, we get to experience first-hand our ugly sides, and we learned to live with it. For 22 years I have been learning to accept and love my mother during her worst, which made me love and appreciate her even more during her best.
Furthermore, having to experience the love of a mother even until my adulthood, I realized how my mom’s love grew exponentially throughout my lifetime, in terms of both depth and capacity.
To illustrate, the farthest I could go during junior high school was Pejaten Village, a mall in South Jakarta where my family goes for monthly shopping. However, during college mom let me fly 12.787 kilometers and 20 hours away from home accompanied by only two friends.
In elementary school every time my friends wanted to come over, I would always need to tell her a few days before, so she could clean up the house and prepare some food. Now, mom can hardly get mad or surprised whenever I come home with a friend intending to have a sleepover.
And when it comes to cats, mom had never allowed me to adopt the stray cat that I fed in front of our house initially. But I was both stubborn and naughty, so I took care of the cat anyway. And just as my mom feared, the cat would not leave. Eventually, she softened up and allow the stray cat to become our first pet.
Ever since, she has named our others cats using pop culture references, talking to them in funny voices even when my friends are around. She has also developed extra sympathy and begun to pay attention to stray cats she sees on the street. What amazes me the most is how she effortlessly laughs while playing with our cats, and how she cried even harder than I did when one of them died.
Reflecting on these and many more things, I realized how my mom’s love is capable of accommodating something she used to refuse, practices that opposed her ideals, and ideas that were alien to her.
I have witnessed how my mother came to love the things that I love, how she tolerates my behavior as the consequences of growing up, and how she suffers from my negative personalities and still loves me nonetheless. And there was nothing more comforting and powerful than that.
Therefore, no matter how many times she angers me, how many moments of rage she has exposed me to, and how many tears she made me shed, I know that her love is bigger than all of those.
She is not a perfect mother, but neither am I a perfect daughter. What keeps us going is none other than her love that keeps on evolving to be more understanding and forgiving. A love that I want to cherish for as long as I can.
Indeed, not every family works the same, but we can always try to understand the many forms of love that parents expressed and hold on to the good things instead, no matter how subtle or small it can be.
Miriam enjoys fangirling as much as she enjoys (online) campaigning about environmental issues. She is currently juggling between deepening her passion and earning money because apparently, she cannot kill two birds with one stone.