Day Forty One: Her Pearl of Wisdom

My Wedding Day, 1999. Photography by Todd Plitt.

My Mom didn't really dole out too many pearls of wisdom.

Growing up, what passed for motherly advice was more like her shouting the obvious at a speeding car. And, yes, that speeding car would be me.
"Slow down!"
"Don't do it!"
"Be careful!"

I don't know if she meant to say more to me. I was too impatient to sit still as she struggled to express herself in English--which was not her first language. Life was passing me by and my Mom was in the way.

When it came to matters of the heart, my Mom had a lot of opinions that were not necessarily expressed through words. A withering look, a cluck of her tongue, and tightly wound but polite exchanges were often the tell-tale signs of her feelings of disapproval about the boys that streamed in and out of my life. But there were a lot of boys rather than men, so the chance of my heart getting broken was not much of a concern for either her or my Dad. They were more worried about my--eh, hem--virtue.

When I fell in love for the first time, it was to a man that shared too many things from my past and present. I will only say that our relationship was intense, overwhelming, and bound for failure from the start. During the 2 plus years we were together, my Mom endured my stupid mistakes and thoughtless choices. I put this man before everything else. She witnessed my demise, but said nothing. At the time, I thought that she didn't understand or care, and swept it under the rug with the remnants of that volatile period in my life.

When I did fall in love again, I learned that she did perceive the folly of that first love. On the day I formally introduced Dave to my family, my Mom pulled me aside said this to me: "the man has to love you more. You can't love him more. And then when you get married, it should always be equal." Her one pearl of wisdom was a brief 3 sentences after which she looked at me expectantly, searchingly. My response was to laugh, which left her puzzled. So I gave her a hug, which softened her expression somewhat. "Don't worry about me," I said to her. "I got this one." When we announce our engagement a year later, the relief that came across my Mom's face was almost comical. And it was her turn to laugh--a riotous, belly laugh that made all the years of worrying about me disappear.

I hope that my own daughter is not as impetuous as I was regarding matters of the heart. But I'll hang on to this pearl of wisdom, just in case.

Thanks, Mom.